LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – – The current coffee trends are a boost to the coffee industry and augur a better outlook for coffee farmers in the coming years in region and in the the country.
The trend now is the Third Wave Coffee Generation such as the proliferation of coffee shops and small coffee roasting and grinding in households, according to Director Valentino Macanes of the Benguet State University-Institute of Highland Farming Systems and Agroforestry.
Third Wave Coffee, as explained, refers to a current movement to produce high-quality coffee and its artisan methods of production. This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee bean growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers and coffee traders and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting to brewing.
Figures from the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. in 2013 show that the local demand for coffee has increased from 30,000 to about 100,000 metric tons a year and is increasing at 3 percent or 18,000 tons per annum.
The Philippines produces about 25,000 metric tons of coffee per year but imports Vietnam coffee yearly ranging from 30,000-35,000 tons worth P1-Billion.
The Robusta coffee grows at elevations from 600-1,200 masl. It is widely used for instant coffee. It yields 1,200 kg of green coffee beans per hectare.
Excelsa thrives at sea level to 600 masl. It has young leaves shiny with bronze violet color. It has wide leaves that are thicker than Robusta but thinner and smoother and more rounded than Liberica.
Liberica, locally known as “kapeng barako,” produces the biggest berries. It has thicker leaves than Excelsa and grows at elevations from 600-1,200 masl. Characterized by very strong pharmacopical taste and flavor, it is tolerant to drought and grows in a wider type of soil. It yields 1,000 kg of clean dry green coffee beans per hectare. It is exported to the Middle East.
According to the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc., the best Philippine coffee beans are produced in Benguet, Matutum of South Cotabato, Kitanglad of Bukidnon, Mount Apo in Davao, and Kanlaon in Negros Isle.
The Cordillera region boasts of its commercial coffee varieties and is one of the few regions in the country where four of these varieties are grown. It has a full advantage over other regions because it has a suitable climate for growing Arabica.
Among the coffee species, Arabica is the most preferred in both the local and global market.
But the region is still far from comparison with other countries in terms of seeds and seedling production.
For instance, there is yet a need for the establishment of certified nurseries with registered seeds for traceable of origin, a requirement of the global market.
The Department of Agriculture is addressing the problem by conducting the Forum/Clinic for Seeds and Seedling Producer Stakeholders of Arabica Coffee in the region.
Among the other business coffee that has penetrated the market are organic coffee, civet cat coffee, specialty coffee, and blended coffee. Coffee is the most popular beverage in the Cordillera region and is counted as one of the top high- value crops in the region, according to Macanes . Susan C. Aro/PIA CAR