Coffee cupping contest widens PH market

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There was a time when the most popular coffee varieties in Asia were those from Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, while those in the Philippines remained unpopular.

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That is about to change as the first-ever KP Coffee Cupping competition was held in the Philippines from February 28 to March 1 at the Cavite State University (CSU) in Imus, Cavite.

Four international judges reviewed and tasted almost 100 different coffee samples from the Philippines to find the best varieties. Five kilos of the best Robusta and Arabica varieties from the Philippines were brewed and sampled to determine the 10 best based on the “Q system” of the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) standards. A special award will be given to the best Liberica variety, also known as “Barako” locally.

Through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture grant administered under ACDIVOCA, the KP Coffee Cupping competition is one of the projects under Mindanao Productivity through Agriculture, Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) with CQI’s In Country Partner, the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI). ACDIVOCA is a non-government organization involved in international development based on Washington, D.C.

Since March 2016, PCBI and ACDIVOCA have been conducting trainings on Introduction to the Q-grading system, which will be the language taught to farmers and processors to find the better coffees that can compete with other coffees of the world.

“This ‘mini Olympics’ allows us to find the coffees which will score well and will be worthy of international exposure at the SCA Convention in Seattle in April,” said Nicholas Matti, PCBI chairman.

“It’s time for Philippine coffees to shine again,” said Dr. Andy Mojica PCBI director and host of the Cupping Competition.

The four judges of the competition are: Samuel Gruel from the US, president of Touch Coffee Company; Mbula Musau from Kenya, who worked for the United Nations and World Trade Organization; Shaun Ong from Thailand, a learning coach who had a stint with Starbucks Coffee; and Laida Sithipruthanon also from Thailand, the owner of Omnia Café and Roastery.

Gruel said that compared to other markets, Asia is the most promising market for coffee.

“Forget about the Americans, the Asia market is booming. South Koreans are willing to pay more money for coffee,” he added.

The cupping competition is envisioned to give Philippine coffee exposure, value and recognition in the international coffee community. Thelonious Trimmell, Chief of Party of the MinPACT project, will be bringing the winning samples to the US, and will invite the international market to cup them.

Besides the cupping facility at the CSU, two more will be established in Mindanao by ACDIVOCA to give farmers and producers access to cupping and grading facilities.

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