COFFEE farmers from Ilocos Sur and Benguet topped other regions in the country for this year’s coffee quality competition during the 3rd Philippine Coffee Conference in Baguio City.

Shaun Ong from Singapore, one of the judges during the event, said the high-rating of coffee quality is testament of the improving coffee quality in the country.

"There is a dramatic increase of quality and it caught the judges, wondering what has been happening on the ground. Competition helps producers realize there is market for quality coffee," Ong said. “Anything above 80 should already be applauded."

Rodolfo Aciong from Ilocos Sur topped the robusta coffee variety with an 85.9 grade while Lorna Libante from Bukidnon made it to second place with Luz Dalapus, also from Ilocos Sur came in third.

Oliver Oliem from Caliking Atok, Benguet ranked first in the Arabica category with an 87.06 grade.

Other finalists include Leizel Siluano from Davao Del Sur, Belen Macanes from Benguet, Zaida Besto from Bukidnon, Restie Lebi Tacio from Benguet and Juanita Amaba from Davao Del Sur.

Oliem acknowledge the secret for the win was the coffee farmers and the environment of Atok Arabica Coffee Growers Marketing Cooperative.

Lead judge Charlie Habegger, green coffee buyer for Blue Bottle Coffee from USA and Asia said what made both finalists in the Robusta and Arabica bagged the first place is that all coffee beans were exemplary.

“Competitions are important because we identify those coffee and we could share those coffee as an example, “said Habegger. “Judges from different cultures, palettes, experiences, perspectives can agree on example of great quality [coffee] that is really significant.”

During the two day conference, there were 106 entries compared to only 80 participants in last year's coffee quality competition.