CEBU, Philippines — Coffee for Peace, Inc., is inviting Cebuano coffee drinkers, coffee entrepreneurs and coffee farmers alike to be social advocates by patronizing local grown beans of high quality.
Coffee for Peace in Davao is a community of peacebuilders, business owners, and farmers practicing and advocating inclusive development principles in the coffee industry. Social entrepreneurship is a business approach to achieve justice and harmony in society and environment.
In an exclusive interview with The Freeman, Felicitas “Joji” Pantoja, chief executive CEO and co-founder of Coffee for Peace, Inc., in Davao, she said there is a need for Cebuanos to be aware of the high quality coffee produced by Filipino coffee farmers in the mountainous areas in Mindanao, and some parts of Luzon.
Compared to branded and imported coffee beans widely available in the market today, Pantoja said the Philippine coffee is no lesser in terms of quality. In fact, Philippines’ premium specialty coffee scored 80 percent special quality standard.
However, Pantoja, who is also a member of the National Coffee Council, said the Philippines cannot compete with Brazil and Colombia because of its archipelagic terrain.
“Different islands will have different taste-profile of coffee. The higher the elevation, the sweeter the coffee. Arabica alone has 3,500 subvarieties, while Robusta has 2,400 subvarieties. In fact, from Mt. Kitanglad beans, a coffee variant will be launched soon,” she added.
The Coffee for Peace community of coffee farmers, which now counts to over 880 farming families, from Mindanao to Kalinga, from Mindoro to Antique, and Roxas produced a combined annual harvest of 40 tons.
Aside from inviting Cebuano coffee drinkers to be participant in “peace building,” Pantoja also encouraged coffee shop operators here to join the cause by patronize locally produced beans and consequently become a social enterprise.
For every kilo of coffee, one can make 140 cups of 6 ounces, and a barista in Davao nets 5K a day with his own coffee cart.
The same can be done in Cebu, she said.
She also encourages coffee farmers themselves here in the Visayas, as well as individuals who may want to start off a pop-up coffee shop to promote local coffee beans.
“Imagine if every region’s farmers had their own pop-up café or coffee cart, neighborhoods will also be educated to buy local. And where you foster entrepreneurship among the marginalized, there is peace,” she explained.
In Cebu, the Municipality of Tuburan in the north-eastern part of Cebu, maintains over 2,000 hectares coffee farm.
The coffee farm, managed by Kafamco (Kabangkalan Agro Forestry Farmers Association Association Multipurpose Cooperative ), aims not only to give livelihood of the over a thousand farmers from coffee farming, but also taking advantage of the eco-tourism niche of Tuburan.
The farm alone has the capacity to produce P4.3 million kilos of beans a year. If this is roasted and sold at prevailing P600 per kilo, it has a potential to earn over P2 billion annually.
According to Pantoja, coffee farming communities in the Visayas, including that of in Tuburan have yet to join the peace-building efforts.
Because at the heart of Coffee for Peace’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans, 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.
“We want farmers to be confident about the business side of farming, understand their market, correctly price and inspire the next generation to be Farmpreneurs too,” added Pantoja.
Once the training is complete, Coffee for Peace 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 training result is a higher quality coffee product produced by a community in the Philippines.