Philippine Coffe


Coffe beans

Coffee's History in the Philippines

The Philippines is one of the few countries that produces the four varieties of commercially-viable coffee: Arabica, Liberica (Barako), Excelsa and Robusta. Climatic and soil conditions in the Philippines - from the lowland to mountain regions - make the country suitable for all four varieties.

In the Philippines, coffee has a history as rich as its flavor. The first coffee tree was introduced in Lipa, Batangas in 1740 by a Spanish Franciscan monk. From there, coffee growing spread to other parts of Batangas like Ibaan, Lemery, San Jose, Taal, and Tanauan. Batangas owed much of its wealth to the coffee plantations in these areas and Lipa eventually became the coffee capital of the Philippines.

By the 1860s, Batangas was exporting coffee to America through San Francisco. When the Suez Canal was opened, a new market started in Europe as well. Seeing the success of the Batangeños, Cavite followed suit by growing the first coffee seedlings in 1876 in Amadeo. In spite of this, Lipa still reigned as the center for coffee production in the Philippines and Batangas barako was commanding five times the price of other Asian coffee beans. In 1880, the Philippines was the fourth largest exporter of coffee beans, and when the coffee rust hit Brazil, Africa, and Java, it became the only source of coffee beans worldwide.

The glory days of the Philippine coffee industry lasted until 1889 when coffee rust hit the Philippine shores. That, coupled with an insect infestation, destroyed virtually all the coffee trees in Batangas. Since Batangas was a major producer of coffee, this greatly affected national coffee production. In two years, coffee production was reduced to 1/6th its original amount. By then, Brazil had regained its position as the world's leading producer of coffee. A few of the surviving coffee seedlings were transferred from Batangas to Cavite, where they flourished. This was not the end of the Philippines' coffee growing days, but there was less area allotted to coffee because many farmers had shifted to other crops.

During the 1950s, the Philippine government, with the help of the Americans, brought in a more resistant variety of coffee. It was also then that instant coffee was being produced commercially, thus increasing the demand for beans. Because of favorable market conditions, many farmers went back to growing coffee in the 1960s. But the sudden proliferation of coffee farms resulted in a surplus of beans around the world, and for a while importation of coffee was banned in order to protect local coffee producers. When Brazil was hit by a frost in the 1970's, world market coffee prices soared. The Philippines became a member of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in 1980.

Today, the Philippines produces 30,000 metric tons of coffee a year, up from 23,000 metric tons just three years ago.

  • FROM BEAN TO BREWFrom the blooms of a delicate white flower, scented like a garden of jasmine and orange blossoms, every coffee bean embarks on a journey that takes it thousands of miles from its home on lush, green fields, to where it settles in a brew that warms the lip and lifts the spirit.

From bloom to cherry... Coffee beans come in four varieties little Robusta, its bigger brothers the Excelsa and Liberica, and the rich Arabica in between. The Philippines grows all four varieties.

Coffee can only be grown in the band surrounding the equator between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn known as the "Coffee Belt".

After three quarters of a year, the small green berries ripen and mature into ripe, red cherries. Coffee berries do not ripen at the same time, creating a peculiar loveliness as one is bound to find branches brimming with both red and green berries nuzzling each other―and on occasion pleasantly flecked with the delicate white of a few late-blooming flowers.From sack to sorting hands... 

Coffee beans are small and of a pale shade of green. Each cherry will normally house two. Sometimes, a cherry will have only one bean, egg-like in shape, which is known as a “peaberry.”

After they have been milled, the beans are taken to tables where women and men the perfect from the damaged, the heavy from the light, the hard from the airy―often over an entire day of gossip and laughter.

Coffee plays an integral role in the lives of the Filipino people. Often, the very first thing one scrambles for in the morning sometimes even before the sunrise is a hot cup of coffee. It warms the stomach, clears the head, and opens our eyes, and forces the nighttime drowsiness away, making room for the new day.

To many Filipinos, breakfast is not complete without a cup of coffee. In the provinces many pour coffee over their rice, turning it into a soup that adds heat and flavor to the meal.

Lunch is taken with yet another cup of coffee. Many times, this will be the third cup of the day, as a quiet little break between breakfast and lunch is enjoyed with the second cup.

At the mid-afternoon coffee break, the fourth cup revives the spirit and boosts the weary body. Then at dinner, coffee is again enjoyed after a meal and beyond as it accompanies late night conversations that fulfill the Filipino's need for companionship and conversation. Before you know it, it is morning again and time once more to be filled up with that hot cup of coffee.

Published on : 03/12/2017 by Puerto Parrot

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