DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 3 July) – Millennials posting photos of their favorite coffee drink on social media have helped promote the so-called “coffee culture” in Davao Region, resulting in the rise of “third wave” coffee shops here and the surge of demand for high quality “specialty coffee” beans grown by local farmers.
In an interview on Tuesday, Melani Provido, regional High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) coordinator at the Department of Agriculture (DA) 11, said there is a growing trend for local “third wave” coffee shops that do not only carry some local coffee brands but also serve high quality specialty Arabica coffee sourced from growers in the region.
She said the 27 third wave coffee shops that opened in the region last year reported 90 percent of their customers are millennials who take to social media their experiences, the effect of which trickles down to small coffee farmers who get paid higher for their produce.
Provido said specialty grade green coffee beans sell starting at P350 per kilo in the local market, whereas before going specialty, the farmers could only sell their Arabica beans at P150.
“Just imagine the population of the millennials, they are indeed of big help. Our millennials are helping our coffee industry. They post on social media and they are willing to pay high price for good coffee,” Provido said.
Despite the growing demand, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the country’s coffee production had been seeing a consistent decline from 75,454 metric tons in 2014; 72,341 MT in 2015; 68,822 MT in 2016; and 62,077 MT in 2017.
The region’s share of the 2017 production nationwide was 17% or 10,839.95 MT, consisting of Arabica (2,200.47 MT), Excelsa (1,258.09 MT), Liberica (75.47 MT), and Robusta (7,305.92 MT), according to PSA.
Provido added that they want to educate more local coffee roasters to encourage them to serve more local brew to the millennial customers as the coffee industry stakeholders believe the region’s specialty coffee can fare with imported brands.
“That’s why, we are telling the small farmers that we have to take advantage of that opportunity, of the pop culture of the millennials,” she said.
Provido added that they take in roasters who are also “cuppers” as members of the Davao Region Coffee Council.
Cuppers grade the quality of the coffee beans, she said.
“You can observe that we include them in the organization because they are the roasters themselves and that they can incorporate the coffee of the small farmers in their menu,” Provido said.
“We are raising the level of productivity of our farmers. We are raising the quality of their coffee for roasters to be able to appreciate it, buy it, and serve it to millennials,” Provido said.
Some of the third wave coffee shops promote local coffee to the market by conveying the stories of the farmers behind the coffee production, she said.
Provido said the government is also doing its best to capacitate the farmers on good agricultural practices, including fertilization, pruning, cultivation, and post-harvest processing.
She added they also advocate to the farmers to only pick the ripe, red coffee cherries to ensure better quality.
Provido said one of the success stories of the region’s coffee industry is the Balutakay Coffee Farmers Association (BACOFA) of Sitio Puto, Barangay Balutakay, Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
She said BACOFA has been known internationally as a specialty coffee.
BACOFA received post-harvest facilities from DA, including mechanical dryers, de-hullers, de-pulpers, and warehouse to store large volumes of coffee during lean months.
BACOFA manager Marivic C. Dubria said the farmers, mostly women, have become more empowered because of coffee growing.
Composed of 78 farmers, she said BACOFA has sped up production this year to meet demand from new buyers after discovering the quality of their coffee beans grown at the 400-hectare sprawl on the foothills of Mt. Apo that get enough cloud cover, good elevation, and minerals-packed soil ideal for coffee-growing.
The group plans to put up centralized processing for all farmers to consolidate their stock of beans to supply 1,200 kilos of specialty beans for 10 new local buyers and another 2,600 kilos for Japanese buyers at P500 a kilo.
This is over and above the existing 3,000 kilos a month sold to local buyers.
Two Arabica coffee entries from BACOFA won second and sixth places in the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC) 2018.
Other PCQC 2018 winners from Mindanao included Zaida Besto (4th), Eric Yap (11th), and Kalugmaan Agri Devt Corp. (12th) from Bukidnon; and Rogelo Giangan (10th) of North Cotabato.
The six winning entries for Robusta category from Mindanao included Lorna Libante (2nd), BMMPC Farmers (4th), Florentino Hermoso (7th), and Imelda Paulican Mendoza (8th) from Bukidnon; Delio Cesar (5th) from Maragusan, Compostela Valley; Lake Sebu Coconut Farmers Association (9th) of South Cotabato; and Rebecca Gacayan (11th) of Poblacion, Sultan Kudarat.
The competition aims to have Philippine specialty coffee recognized in the global coffee industry by performing evaluations signed with globally accepted grading and profiling protocols and standards of the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)