After having been involved in coffee for over 20 years now, I always look forward to new learning and I find time to attend coffee meetings and tour new coffee places when I travel.
I was just tasked to be the Asia Pacific Mentor for the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Chapter Relations Committee, a most esteemed group of women in coffee from coffee-producing and coffee-consuming countries worldwide. While at the Seattle meeting, I went to my usual haunts—Caffe D’Arte where I took my first coffee seminar 20 years ago. My mentor had returned to his native Italy already but the coffee tasted the same as when I first sipped my Americano way back in 1992. Mauro Cippola is his name. And he does not know how that seminar he gave me decades ago changed my life.
Just for kicks I also went to the very first store of Starbucks in Pike Place where I saw a beeline of tourists photographing every nook and cranny of the now historical coffee store.
I told myself I would check out the third wave coffee pioneers so off I went for a whirlwind tour of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Victrola Coffee Roasters and Seattle Coffee Works, having a pour over (coffee method of brewing) in every shop all in one afternoon. As if that was not enough, I ended my coffee tour with a cup of Americano at Bauhaus, a café book store on East Pine Street.
And that was the second leg of my coffee tour. Much earlier in the week, my family and I went on a tour of San Francisco’s newest counter-culture coffee places: Four Barrel and Ritual on Valencia, Philz Coffee on Van Ness, and finishing with Arlequin on Hayes for some wine to balance all the coffee we took in.
Yes, I never tire of learning about coffee. There is a new wave—called the Third Wave of Coffee—which connects to what our organization, the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) has been doing the past 11 years.
Finding out who the farmer is, getting the beans straight from the farms, and processing it so it will not go to waste due to improper handling after harvest. In all these third wave cafés, attention is directed to the origin or provenance of the coffee, even to identifying the names of the farmers, what variety of coffee they grow, and how much care went into it after harvest.
I was surprised to learn that Arabica varieties we grow including Caturra and Catuai are named and given attention to, unlike before when the variety was just called Coffea Arabica. I was excited and perked up (with the coffee included) to know that what we are doing is the next step to giving our farmers better value. In fact, we now encourage export of micro-lots (small bags) of green beans rather than roasted coffee (which we used to promote) so micro roasters like Stumptown and Ritual can also feature our Philippine coffees in their shops. We strongly oppose the export of roasted coffee beans because the beans deteriorate quickly and will not give justice to our wonderful harvest.
My final stop was Blue Bottle Company in Oakland, where a Filipina Selina Viguera works. Selina and another Filipina IWCA member Kat Mulingtapang and I had done an instant cupping of coffee in March as Selina brought out small samples of coffees from Ethiopia, Sumatra and Costa Rica in her location. This time, I saw Blue Bottle’s roasting place and saw the small bags of coffee from different farms in far-flung places.
Traceable to origin, traceable to the farmer too. I know that someday Selina will feature a Benguet or a Matutum coffee among these selections.
Kat Mulingtapang capped my coffee tour by inviting me to cup coffees from a coffee shop we were not familiar with. And so the education about coffee goes on. We cup the coffee anonymously, and Kat asks me for my comments. “Was it caramel like? Did it taste of molasses or grass?” she asks. And since she could not make it to Manila for October’s seminar due to unforeseen events, she instead imparted to me what she has learned in six years of cupping 80 to 100 kinds of coffee a day. I may not have absorbed it all, but it has given me assurance that we are on the right track.
Coffee Origins. That is what third wave is all about. Knowing the farm, the farmer and the coffee; cupping it; then brewing it using a pour-over, a clever, a Chemex or a V-60 Hario. Yes, 20 years have passed since my seminar in Seattle and coffee drinking has evolved.
We never stop learning. Everyday is a new experience in coffee and in life.
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Coffee Origins happens on October 10 to 22 at Greenbelt 5 Gallery, Ayala Malls, Makati. Coffee seminars are in Enderun on October 19. E-mail us for more details.
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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, youth 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.