ONE of the growing suppliers of specialty coffee all over the country is working hand in hand with highland farmers to produce specialty coffee in Benguet.
PhilCana chief executive officer Michael McFadden discovered the viability of the province to produce coffee because of its elevation and climate. He then formed his team with farm manager Restie Tacio and Christopher Alos, head roaster and operations manager.
PhilCana now works with farmers to produce 100 percent Arabica coffee, all of which are grown, harvested and processed by Indigenous Peoples of Benguet.
"Some of our partner farmers are in remote areas where it takes eight hours of walking on foot to get to the road. It takes more than 10 hours to gather just one sack weighing 35 kilos which end up as 12 to 14 kilos of roasted specialty coffee," McFadden said.
PhilCana's specialty grade coffee meets the strict scrutiny of certified professional Q graders who assess coffee quality according to set standard accepted around the world, using three brands: The Red Hills coffee used for expresso's; Red Mountain Coffee lightly roasted with flavor notes of citrus, floral, and complex rich sweetness; and the Red Horse Coffee encapsulated with more caffeine and a blend of robusta.
Alos acknowledged the challenge to expand, but for now, they soar to grow at a manageable rate, increasing supply, and sustaining the consistency of bringing specialty coffee.
In terms of quantity, the company is at level 85 grade of specialty coffee that produce two tons in one season. PhilCana's coffee supplies more than 15 café establishments around the Cordillera region, seven in the Ilocos region, and targets all establishments in Palawan.
The company is now preparing to soon establish its own shop in the more than 1,000 meters above sea level in Atok, Benguet.
"As the customers tend to find consistency, we can supply the consistent quality. Our target is to be the pioneer to introduce specialty coffee to the world," said Alos, adding that the company utilizes direct trade, buying the coffee product directly from source, its farmers.
"Direct trade helps the farmers without the middleman. We will give them the full purchase price. And then we can explain to them directly feedback why their coffee is value at that price," said Alos.
Benguet farmers follow traditional method of growing and harvesting and do not allow any chemicals, pesticides part of the products.
Philcana's coffee is now produced with more than 30 partner farmers who earned top marks during the National Coffee Quality Competition.