Pushing Davao coffee to world standards

QUALITY Coffee is the key.

The local coffee industry with government organizations are bent on elevating the quality of coffee in the country to seize opportunities in local and global economy.

Philip Marco Dizon, chief financial officer of Mt. Apo Coffee Inc., said that coffee players now are focused on improving coffee quality.

“This is not a matter of supply but the need to improve the quality,” he said.

Dizon added that quality is important to be competitive in the market.

"We are focusing on producing specialty coffee as this commands a premium price," he said.

Mt. Apo Coffee Inc.’s products include Mt. Apo Civet Coffee and Mt. Apo Altura Coffee, where the coffee beans are sourced from the country’s highest peak.

Agricultural Cooperative Development International (ACDI/Voca) Philippines, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), introduced the coffee cupping process to grade roasted beans and help upgrade Philippine coffees from medium-quality to specialty coffees.

Coffee cupping is a practice done by licensed Q Graders.

During last Wednesday’s Hapi at Kape presscon at Abreeza, Daniel Byron Pantoja of Coffee for Peace, who also is a licensed Q Grader just recently, demonstrated the proper way of coffee cupping.

Provincial Director of DTI Compostela Valley Lucky Siegfred Balleque said that coffee cupping opens door to exporting opportunities.

He said evaluation from Q Graders is internationally accepted and can actually be used by coffee farmers to prove the export quality of their coffees.

Balleque added Balutakay coffee farmers from Bansalan actually scored an 85 percent when their coffees were graded.

With this, he is confident that Davao Region is actually capable of producing high quality coffees if properly guided.

Thelonious Trimmell of ACDI/Voca, who is in the Philippines for two and a half years, said the booming coffee shop industry in the country, particularly in Davao City, reflects the need to develop the country’s coffee industry to be able to provide high-quality coffees.

With the increase in the number of emerging coffee shops in the metro is the increase in the demand of high-quality coffees as well.

Balleque supported this idea by saying that even if major coffee shops in the region use imported coffee beans and powder, there are coffee shops like Bo’s Coffee who patronize locally-produced coffee. If local high-quality coffees are accessible, then coffee shops in the metro can just purchase coffees from local farmers.

He said DTI had started with the coffee cupping awareness campaign for coffee farmers since 2013 and most of these farmers are already aware of the process and how it could help them widen their market.

More than the exporting objective that comes with producing high-quality coffees, Balleque said it also brings in specialty coffees nearer to the Filipinos, who more than anyone, deserves to indulge in the locally-produced high-quality coffees.

To further promote the coffee cupping process, ACDI/Voca and the Philippine Coffee Board will be conducting the First Annual Cup Quality Competition that will be held on March 1-4 at the Cavite State University.

The competition is open to “anyone engaged in the production of coffee in the Philippines, including but not limited to coffee cooperatives, farmers, processors and exporters.
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