What if every Filipino, no matter where they’re based in the country, can be a “force for good” simply by sticking to routine—like, say, enjoying their morning cup of coffee?
Davao-based Coffee for Peace (CFP) proves this can be the case as its CEO and co-founder Felicitas “Joji” B. Pantoja confirms that they are a growing community of farmers and business owners practicing and advocating inclusive development principles in the coffee industry.
“As a reputable processor for good beans and an experienced roastery, CFP means business continuity for business owners but equally: support for farming communities. CFP even gives buyers the option to create their own brand under a MOA where 10% of very kilo sold goes back to farmers,” says J. Pantoja.
“CFP by design allocates 25% of its net profit for its Peace and Reconciliation Teams, composed of volunteers from conflict-affected areas and international volunteers. They are trained in inter-faith dialogue, cross-cultural comms, trauma healing, relief and medical operations,” says J. Pantoja.
CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on fairer trade pricing. Once the training is complete, CFP offers to partner communities post-harvest services at cost such as: coffee pulping, coffee dehulling, and coffee drying. Coffee for Peace also offers to partner-farmers and those who buy from them shared services such as toll roasting, packaging, label design, and photography. The result is a higher quality coffee product produced by a community in the Philippines.
Nurturing community ‘farmerpreneurs’ and realizing the country’s potential for premium to specialty coffee go hand in hand. J. Pantoja says, “Only 25% of the country’s 111M population is served by Filipino coffee farmers. Local cafes are challenged in sourcing good beans. We partner with DTI on bridging gaps such as training, equipment and drying space but getting to a scale that boosts our national reputation as a good coffee producer will take time.”
Coffee is innate in the Filipino culture. “When we visit high-conflict communities, coffee served from a palayok is good quality. When I brought a sample to Canada where I used to live, the roasters said there was potential for premium quality to specialty. But we can only produce limited quantities. Opening opportunities for our farmers drove me to collaborate—inspire baristas to educate customers, get roasters to work with traders who source from farmer,” said J. Pantoja.
This distinction in quality can be a strength of the Philippines as a group of islands since we can’t compete with the land mass and harvest volumes of Vietnam, Brazil or Colombia, and we can’t produce for large coffee chains. “Instead, our edge is premium specialty coffee, with micro-lot orders of 1 to 2 tons that are of a quality and fetch a good price. Each island can produce a different taste profile depending on soil and fauna of that area,” Pantoja shared.