People all over the world reach for their coffee cups every morning, performing the act like a solemn ritual that simply cannot be overlooked. Coffee is what gets the world back on its feet after a night of sleep or a tiring day of work, and it is why the business of making coffee is one of the biggest industries in the world. From small sidewalk coffee stalls to global coffee brands, coffee is big business.
Cavite Coffee Tour
In the Philippines, it might sometimes take a bit of a stretch of the imagination to notice the volume and scale of the coffee trade. Perhaps, one of the main reasons for its subdued presence is the fact that coffee farming and production is mostly an unseen process.
Unlike sugarcane or rice, which is both grown in abundance along the main provincial highways of the Philippines, coffee requires a more thorough investigation before its origins can be discovered.
Coffee Beans from Cavite
Take the mysterious Civet Coffee, for example, the only way to find where it comes from is to hike across mountains and join the coffee gatherers in their back-breaking work of picking up scat in the jungle. Of course, in some countries Civets are kept in cages to make the work easier. But then, for true connoisseurs, Civet Coffee is just not the same coffee unless it comes from the wild. Apparently though, isolation is not limited to the novel and the unique. Even some of the biggest coffee farms take an effort to get to, if in case you were that driven to see a coffee farm for yourself.
I drink coffee a lot, but I am not as much a fanatic as this story would lead its readers to believe. What I mean is that I’m not so finicky with the magical black beverage that I drink all hours of every day.
I would not have gone to the point that I would actually try to figure out its source, or even how it’s made. But then, I got a curious invitation for a coffee tour with a side note that said “coffee will be served!”
First of all, the words “coffee” and “tour” when put together becomes a very interesting package to offer. The prospect of traveling for coffee seems like the deal of the century when you get invited to do so. Besides, it’s not easy to turn down coffee, believe me, I’ve tried. As it turned out, it was the Philippine Coffee Board that hatched the plan. And, as one might have readily guessed, the board is an organizations dedicated to all things related to coffee.
From growing the beans to roasting and selling them, right down to the genetic material of each type of coffee bean where foamy cappuccinos and toasty warm macchiato are derived from, the Philippine Coffee Board makes it their business to know all about it.
I met the other participants of the tour at a hip little café called Commune, tucked away among the glass and concrete buildings of Salcedo Village in Makati City. Commune is a cozy little hideaway, perfect for a quiet afternoon break and all those fake meetings we go to when we just need to get away from our office cubicles.
The café is decorated with comfortable furniture and has a real live barista who knows the difference between a Ristretto and a Doppio, just in case you really want to go nerdy about your coffee. For the tour participants, getting a free lesson in coffee preparation from Commune’s barista, and then getting to drink all of it afterwards, gave the day a coffee-induced jumpstart.
Cavite Coffee Tour Participants
From Makati, we travelled south towards the greener landscape of Cavite Province. We drove past pineapple plantations and houses sheltered by old mango trees and tamarind. Begonias and orchids bloomed by the roadside all the way to Amadeo, a small town where coffee grows everywhere.
We were there to meet with the coffee researchers of Cavite State University who are helping turn coffee farming into a science. Formerly known as the Don Severino Agricultural College, Cavite State University has grown to include eleven satellite campuses and over thirty-thousand students.
CavSu, as the university is referred to by its faculty and students, is also the site of the National Coffee Research Institute. We were there to learn more about the efforts to make coffee a profitable crop for Filipino farmers.
In fact, there was a time when coffee was a big deal in the local farming industry. Fluctuating prices for coffee and a lack of modern farming technology, however, led to a mass exodus of coffee growers towards more sustainable crops.
The research institute aims to change the future of coffee-farming in the Philippines, through hard work and a healthy dose of science. In partnership with the Coffee Board of the Philippines, the National Coffee Research Institute hopes to take Philippine coffee farming into a sustainable and profitable future.