“It’s an enriching coffee tour experience.”
“Coffee and friends make the perfect blend.”
“It made me appreciate every cup of coffee even more.”
“I wish there’s another one.”
The tour was only for a day. With comments like these, it can be said that the effect lasted beyond a day. In fact, just a few minutes after happy faces and coffee photos were posted on Facebook, it elicited immediate requests from the public that the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. (PCBI) organized another coffee tour after three months!
PH CAFEEE: BEGINNING AND ESSENCE
The coffee tour that got a lot of buzz on social media is the brainchild of Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez and PCBI President and Co-Chair Pacita Juan.
Through a continuing education for tour guides, the participants were given an in-depth look into some of the country’s sustainable industries like coffee. Thus, 19 accredited tour guides from Region 4A and NCR were part of the Philippine Coffee Activity For Earning, Education, and Enjoyment Program (PH CAFEEE) on November 22, 2017.
The coffee tour started with a morning briefing at the Department of Tourism office in Makati, where the tour guides were also given copies of The Ultimate Coffee Guide. Then, they got on board a coaster headed to Cavite and Tagaytay, where they learned about coffee from farm to cup. With them was PCBI Executive Director Robert Francisco, who shared his knowledge about Philippine coffee.
COFFEE AND MORE
The first stop and Gourmet Farms, where the tour guides were welcomed by Director Len Reyes. While he gave a brief background of how their 30-year-old business started and invited them to go around the shop to check out their various products, guests were served coffee buns, cookies, and a warm cup of coffee.
After they had their fill, they explored the 11-hectare estate and witnessed how Gourmet Farms stores, roasts, and packs its coffees. The cool breeze, the surrounding organic greens, and the aromatic smell of coffee left a good impression on the tour guides who went back to the store and shopped for more.
The next destination was the Nurture Wellness Village. The coaster passed by a few coffee trees that were beginning to bloom on the way to this healthy sanctuary. As the tour guides alighted from the coaster, they were given fresh pandan juice as they took photos and videos of the dancers wearing straw hats and in Filipiniana attire.
Geng Eclarinal of Nurture Farmacy gave a background on the company’s philosophy. The herb and vegetable gardens were just as Instagrammable as the first destination, with quotes that reminded why health and wellness matters. The tour guides were amazed to see a demonstration of a coffee scrub, one of Nurture Wellness Village’s spa offerings.
Across a quaint spot where a carabao looked lovely with flowers on its head, the staff had set up demonstrations of local arts and crafts like weaving, kite making, and forming a ball using coconut leaves. This showcase of culture continued with a demonstration of Old School coffee grinding and roasting. The tour guides were then treated to a coffee-themed healthy lunch.
Nurture Wellness Village owner Cathy Turvil explained their company philosophy: holistic, quality, proudly Filipino, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability. She then proudly introduced her team and invited everyone to dance for wellness.
“Our staff of 150 all belong here in our barangay,” she revealed. Turvil and her husband worked together to equip them with the needed skills until Nurture Wellness Village garnered their well-deserved Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for three consecutive years!
From Silang to Tagaytay, the tour guides” last stop was in Amadeo. Known as the coffee capital of the Philippines, its rich coffee history harks back to the Spanish era. After all, the town was named after King Amadeo of Spain. The staff of Cafe Amadeo gave a brief yet detailed history, showed them the facilities of the coffee shop, as well as the famous Pahimis Blend.
Pahimis is their local term for giving thanks. In the olden times, it was the coffee farmers’ tradition to share their last can of coffee harvest as a sign of thanksgiving. They believed that it would bring them luck in their next harvest. The tour guides also learned that the annual Pahimis Festival is celebrated in April, in an effort to boost the town’s agri-business and eco-tourism.
The coffee tour in Luzon was a good way to mark the start of the partnership between the DOT and PCBI. Plans are already in place for the Visayas and Mindanao leg.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Like coffee, it’s an experience that one needs to make time for. Beyond the caffeine fix, it’s a tour that will make you feel proud of our coffee heritage.
Photos by Keith Dador