Coffee is something that I had taken for granted until I first visited a coffee farm back in the summer. It was on that trip interviewing and speaking to coffee farmers that made me realize just how hard it was for farmers. People sitting in Starbucks or other fancy coffee corporate chains don’t think about how much hard work the farmer has to endure to look after the coffee and then harvest and process the beans. Any chance we have in helping out Kalsada and the coffee farmers here in the Philippines we are always interested.
Last weekend we were invited by the lovely folks at Kalsada to go on another trip to Benguet to build some drying beds for the farmers. The drying beds would allow the beans to dry more evenly and should ensure a better quality and consistent product allowing the cooperative to get better prices and hopefully raise the profile of Arabica farmers in the Philippines.
I think the best part about this trip though was that some younger Filipinos who are working in the coffee industry were accompanying us on this trip. Folks from Yardstick Coffee The Barista Box and Habitual Coffee joined the Kalsada team.
For many of the baristas and coffee shop owners it was the first time they had visited a coffee farm and the first time they had seen just how coffee farmers live and work. I think its really important that the new wave and the future of the coffee industry in the Philippines have a good idea about the situation of coffee farmers and work together to try and raise the quality and the sustainability of the industry. It was great to see so many young people involved in the coffee industry take an interest and get out of Manila and actually visit the place that the product their business relies on.
As well as building the beds we visited Benguet State University’s demo farm to look at the whole coffee process from coffee cherry to green bean, coffee research and also to meet the foremost academic on Arabica beans in the Philippines Professor Macanes.
The trip was a success with a number of drying beds built for the farmers and another trip scheduled during harvest season something, which we are definitely looking forward to documenting. One of the big surprises of the trip was receiving our own coffee seedling, thank you Kalsada!