By Nikka Garriga
PASAY CITY, METRO MANILA— One of the country’s notable export items would have to be our coffee beans. The Philippines grow all four coffee – Robusta, Liberica, Excelsa and Arabica.
In fact, the Philippines was once considered the fourth largest coffee-producing nation country in the world until the infestation of coffee rust and insects prompted farmers to shift to other crops.
Efforts have continuously been done to help revive the once-booming Filipino coffee industry, including cultivating exotic, homegrown varieties – like the “civet” coffee and tinawon-flavored blends from Ifugao – that are grown in special climates and soil conditions.
Renowned coffee expert Bruce Milleto believes there is a bright future in Filipino specialty coffee for both export and local consumption purposes.
“The Philippines has always surprised me. It has been advanced in retail even five years ago and is a leader in the specialty coffee movement in the Pacific Rim,” he says.
Milleto is recognized in the international coffee industry for his expertise in specialty coffees and has been named one of the “Coffee Luminaries” of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).
He recently conducted a two-day seminar in the country on the coffee retail trade organized by the Philippine Barista and Coffee Academy (PBCA).
“Only a very small percentage of the population drinks specialty coffee, yet enough people spur the demand so that there is growth in the industry,” he explains. “If we can grow that percentage higher, educate more and more consumers to understand the art craft of coffee, the industry will continue to grow.”
Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics in the Cordillera Administrative Region (BAS-CAR) indicate a steady increase in coffee production with Kalinga province as the top producer.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, meanwhile, has allotted additional lands for coffee plantations and is also looking at establishing partnerships with the private sector to further promote Philippine coffee.
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