FELICITAS B. PANTOJA, founder and chief executive officer of Coffee for Peace, said the organization will open a new café on the third floor of the Ayala Abreeza Mall in Davao City, free of rent, which is expected to mitigate some of the risks from the pandemic-constrained market.

Coffee for Peace, which is seeking to promote local farmers, has been granted a rent waiver under an Abreeza program to support social enterprises working with indigenous communities.

Coffee for Peace’s café at Ecowest Drive reopened in April after being closed for more than a year due to coronavirus-related restrictions. 

Business “is still slow,” Ms. Pantoja said in an interview with BusinessWorld, but Coffee for Peace could not have passed up on the Ayala Abreeza opportunity.

The café will require two baristas. Beyond the coffee shop business, the location will also serve to promote a deeper appreciation of the farm-to-shop coffee loop and its impact on communities and the economy.

Coffee for Peace teams, restricted in their movements for most of 2020, have also resumed engagement with coffee farmers in various parts of the country.

“We are busy training again, we have three new communities,” she said.

The areas where the organization is active include Kalinga in the Cordillera region, Capiz in Western Visayas, Mt. Kitanglad in Northern Mindanao, Davao del Sur, and Kidapawan.

Byron Pantoja, Coffee for Peace vice-president for operations, said training now includes modules on using social media as a marketing and trading tool as well as cashless payment options.

“Anyone who can afford a cellphone, which is most of them now, has a Facebook and that’s where they contact their buyers, make arrangements,” he said, adding that he has personally seen improvements in mobile phone connectivity in some of the upland areas.

Mr. Pantoja, a certifed arabica and robusta quality grader who is among the judges in this year’s Philippine Coffee Quality Competition, said the digital platform has also kept the annual event vibrant with even more farmers participating.

“Our coffee circle (in the Philippines) is growing,” Ms. Pantoja said.

With the opening of such spaces as the Coffee for Peace café in Ayala Abreeza, she is hoping that the market for specialty and high-quality coffee will also grow.