The first time we met up was for my interview as the founder of the Philippine chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA). We emailed and wrote each other and finally met in a café in California. That was 2012. Soon after, she recommended our chapter formation to the head office of IWCA. And our Philippine chapter was born.
The IWCA has had Kat Mulingtapang in their Board/Chapter Relations committee for over five years now, and she takes care of Chapter Formation in Asia Pacific countries, the Philippines being the first on her roster of assignments.
Next up is Indonesia, then Vietnam and maybe even Papua New Guinea.
But more than being an active member of the IWCA, Kat is also a Professional Cupper, Certified Q Grader (the title they give professional coffee cuppers and graders) and now an IDP (Instructor Development Program) certified teacher of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (www.scaa.org). She had to go through thousands of cups of coffee to earn her stripes, and she did.
That’s not all she does though. Kat also in an entrepreneur having an events company on the side and when time permits, she also works as a Dental Hygienist for a professional dental clinic. She also does yoga and can teach the practice as well.
Now, if that is not what an admirable expert is, what would you call her?
She is home in Manila to do a series of events for coffee, which starts with a Coffee cupping session, tasting our very own Philippine coffee origins—from Benguet to Mt. Apo, Matutum and even Sulu.
She is also encouraging our women coffee farmers, roasters and retailers to join the IWCA to further their knowledge about the brew. Applications were sent to IWCA-Head Office and the International Trade Center (based in Geneva, Switzerland) just recently so Kat can accompany these Filipinas as they make their mark in selling our coffees to the world. There will be a Buyer-Mentor program which will benefit our women in the coffee business.
What does cupping coffee entail? Kat asked me to get 36 cupping bowls, 12 bean trays and 12 cupping spoons, lots of coffee to taste and enough energy to set up this cupping event on April 5 at Commune Café in Makati City.
What is sad about the state of our coffee industry is that farmers never get to taste their coffee. All they know is that the green beans or even worse, the dried cherries are bought by enterprising traders who pay them cheap and never get to show them what happens to their coffee. This is what IWCA and our “Women in coffee” program seeks to change. We want farmers to taste their coffee so they can appreciate what happens when you harvest it well, process it properly and then store it under good and dry conditions. This is the only way we can improve our coffee.
In a recent trip to Benguet. IWCA members Ros Juan and Nicee Matti took Arabica samples from different Barangays and then we cupped the coffees at Commune, in the presence of World Food magazine people, Aileen and Hector Jaraza, who happened to be coffee lovers. We now know who the winner is in the taste contest.
But all these need the second opinion from experts like Kat. So, we will repeat our “tasting session” but in a more professional manner, this time. There are many micro roasters in the country, a lot of enthusiasts, but I do not know if they have cupped hundreds of samples a day like Kat does.
It gives us much pride in the IWCA Philippine chapter to have a mentor in Kat- a bundle of energy and a breath of fresh air, because she is positivity personified. I have never heard any bad comments from her about anyone or anything at all. I wonder, could it be all that caffeine she has ingested over the years? Could it be her side job as a dental hygienist? Or her business as an event planner? Or are people like her just too busy to think or say anything negative about anyone or anything?
I know, it could also be the yoga.
Whatever it is, I am glad I met Kat. And to wrap up our Asia Pacific assignment, we both go to Medan in Sumatra to wrap up another chapter for IWCA- the Indonesian group of coffee women. This is all part of our never-ending coffee journey. And I am loving every minute of it.
Thank you, Kat, for making the Filipina stand proud in the coffee world.
The Coffee Cupping session is on April 5 at 2 p.m. in Commune Café, Makati City
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook:IWCA-Women In Coffee-Philippines. Or call 09088831218 and leave your name and number.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at email@example.com