Gubatbp. featuring Alvira “Vie” Reyes | March 28, 2021
Hi everyone. Welcome to Gubatbp. podcast. I’m Onggie Canivel, Executive Director of Forest Foundation.
And hello I’m Bryan Mariano, Knowledge Management Specialist at Forest Foundation Philippines.
In this podcast, we tell stories about the forest, plants, and people. Gubatbp. comes from the wordplay of “gubat”, which translates to “forest” in Tagalog, and “at iba pa”, which means “and others”.
At Gubatbp., we find familiarity in the forest and its relation to our everyday lives.
Hi, My name is Vianne and I’m from Quezon City.
Hi, I’m Allison from Tagaytay City
Hi I’m Becky Poe from Quezon City
So Hi, I am Casey from Laguna
Hi I’m Erika from Las Piñas
I am Jenna from Angeles City
Hi I am Kyla and I’m from Pasig
Hi everyone, I’m Ivan Itchon from Taguig City
Hi, I’m Lia Querijero, a post grad student. I’m currently in Baler, Aurora and I love coffee.
Coffee to me is a cultural icon.
[beans poured into a coffee grinder]
Coffee, for me, signifies hope.
So for me, I think coffee is a means to a conversation.
To me, coffee is an instrument for connection.
[beans poured into a coffee grinder]
Coffee for me is nostalgic. I like the smell of coffee since it reminds me of family gatherings and taking a sip or two from my mom’s cup.
Yung coffee conversations kasi it kinda suggests a relaxed talk without pressure. For me, drinking coffee is good for a first meeting and yun nga, a coffee conversation suggests na yung interaction pwedeng short and pwedeng matagalan. Also, I think coffee is a great way to easy into relationships, whether through friends, romantic, or work. Pwede siyang pang first meeting, pwede siyang pang gala with friends, pwede siyang coffee date na romantic. Pwede rin coffee over work, like kung gusto mong makipag brainstorm with friends
ELYZA DELA FUENTE:
It’s comforting because drinking it while having conversation with a friend or a loved one is very calming for me.
Coffee to me is basically my “on switch” in the morning. You can’t have a substantial conversation with me if I haven’t had my cup of coffee.
[coffee beans being ground]
Coffee to me is something that I should have before I start my day. It’s a must.
Coffee for me is the first order of business. When I start my day with coffee, my mood instantly shoots up and I feel more prepared to take on my responsibilities.
Coffee is something that I need to start my day with. Parang nagging habit na I drink coffee with my breakfast. Parang drinking coffee would be like, may signal na, “Ok it’s a new day.”
Coffee to me is basically a cup of happiness because it keeps me awake, energized, and in a good mood…most of the time.
Coffee is something that makes me happy because it gives me energy and keeps me productive throughout the day.
To me, coffee is something I drink to keep me going and to keep me motivated, especially when I have a long day ahead of me.
Coffee, for me, helps me get through the day by making me feel more energetic and more awake. It is also something that I drink when I want to be more productive and whenever I want to get work done.
Actually, drinking coffee reminds me of the times when I feel very productive.
So to me, it’s something that elicits productivity and being creative and getting things done.
I think coffee, for me, is an everyday necessity, whether it’s for relieving stress or helps you keep awake throughout the day.
Coffee is both comforting and energizing for me. I start my day with coffee to focus on my work and I also end my day with coffee. However, recently, I’ve been dialing back on my caffeine intake since I found myself to be too dependent on coffee.
Everywhere around the world, people have their coffee made in different ways and each comes with a story.
[brewed coffee being poured]
Honestly, I think I don’t have a favorite type of brand or anything. I’m really open to any types of coffee, whether it is local o kaya international, imported pa yan, or mamahalin or mumurahin pa yan na chupipay. Kasi, at the end of the day, yun nga, I don’t see coffee rin naman as a drink just to consume. It’s something deep-rooted na rin sa culture ng tao.
I like coffee that’s cheap and convenient so I’m good with Nescafe Creamy White or Kopiko Blanca. Or really, any of the 3-in-1 packs available in the market. If it wasn’t obvious yet, I like my coffee sweet and creamy because I find that it’s easier to drink especially in the morning.
I usually like coffee that’s sweet and iced, per honestly I would drink any naman. Basta cold.
[ice cubes dropping into a cup]
I enjoy my coffee best when it is iced because it helps me beat the heat given the weather in the Philippines. I also enjoy adding soy milk and caramel syrup because it enhances the flavor of the coffee.
My favorite type of coffee is iced coffee because it’s not too bitter and helps me feel refreshed, lalo na when the weather’s hot.
My favorite coffee is something sweet and filled with ice because I like cold beverages and I have a sweet tooth.
ELYZA DELA FUENTE:
I like my coffee iced with vanilla because it is energizing and at the same time, very tasty.
So my favorite type of coffee or kind of coffee is the iced Americano because it is easily made and brings out the true flavor of the coffee beans.
My favorite coffee would be cold brew. But if I’m lazy, I’ll just go with a 3-in-1 hazelnut. I like it with milk and a lot of sugar.
I like my coffee dark roast, iced soy latte if the weather’s hot, and hot-brewed with sugar if the weather’s cold.
My favorite coffee is a homemade cappuccino because I love the froth on top of the coffee and I also feel like a barista while making it.
[brewed coffee being poured]
It was only during the quarantine that I found the perfect blend for me. My tita introduced me to 7-in-1 coffee mix from Glorious Blend. It contains stevia and other plant-based extracts which I actually enjoy.
My favorite coffee would be any classic roast with almond milk and a few pumps of vanilla. I like my coffee this way because I know it wouldn’t be giving me palpitations after drinking this cup of coffee.
My preference would be barako. I put a bit of cream and brown sugar.
My favorite coffee is brewed coffee. I usually just do the coffee maker pot method of making coffee. I use Kalinga beans and I like it because it has a full, round taste. I also like my coffee balanced with milk and sugar.
My favorite is Starbucks’ Pike Place roast and I have it with half a sachet of Splenda. That way I can really taste the coffee without it being too in-my-face.
My favorite type of coffee is a caramel macchiato because I like it sweet and milky, but also with a tinge of bitterness in the end. For me, I think they all mix really well.
[brewed coffee being poured]
My favorite coffee is just black with no cream and sugar because I think I get to taste the flavors of coffee more.
My favorite coffee is barako. I enjoy it black, no creamer, no sugar. I really like to get the taste of what coffee I’m having.
[coffee beans being poured]
Well, normally I get my coffee from Batangas but I also prefer the ones from Benguet and Sagada.
I’ve been sourcing my coffee from Shopee since the pandemic hit and I haven’t had problems with my coffee from the coffee stores. I know that it’s locally sourced from the Cordillera mountains.
I source my coffee from local shops here in the Philippines and I believe they get their coffee in provinces. I think they call it “single origin.”
[coffee beans being poured]
My family really enjoys coffee so we try to source locally, whether it is instant or fresh-ground. Our current blend is a medium roast from Sagada.
I source my coffee from…if I do cold brew, we buy the beans from Mahogany Market. But then if I’m lazy, we go to Robinsons and buy white coffee hazelnut.
And I usually source my coffee beans from the local grocers.
I buy my coffee from convenience stores or groceries nearby. In terms of where I source my coffee, I usually just buy from the grocery and make my own.
I source my coffee in any S&R, Landers, or Starbucks store.
I get my coffee whether it’s in Landers or S&R.
I buy my coffee beans from anywhere interesting. But mostly, I buy from local coffee shops.
We usually source our coffee beans from coffee shops such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean.
I source my coffee from McDonalds because that’s usually where I’ve been getting my coffee ever since I was in high school up until now. I usually get my coffee from McDonalds, Tim Hortons, or in grocery stores. Like the 3-in-1 coffee mixes and I just put ice so that it’ll become iced coffee.
My source of coffee…I usually drink coffee na 3-in-1 because it’s more convenient but I also buy from outside like Dunkin or Starbucks, ganun.
[coffee beings being scooped]
I’m not really particular where and what brand I get my coffee from, as long as it tastes good. But I usually get mine from Starbucks.
Usually I source my coffee sa mga groceries o kaya sa mga supermarkets or in stores like Starbucks. Yung mga madadali. But although I really want to try coffee na mas…healthier…o kaya I’m open to anything, basta masarap siya and it’s accessible to anyone.
I don’t really source my own coffee, but I really love to discover local cafes around QC or other parts of the Metro.
Featured Musician: Oh, Flamingo!
Song: Two Feet
Thank you to all those who submitted their recordings sa prompt questions natin about the meaning of coffee to them. Onggie, ikaw? What does coffee mean to you?
Habang sinasagot nila, andami kong reflections. Yung coffee ko parang dalawang two kinds: the first cup of coffee I take in the morning is what fuels me up, it wakes me up. I start preparing for the day. Yung unang cup of coffee ko, yan yung where I run through my to-do list habang umiinom ka…”Wednesday ngayon, ano ba ang kailangan kong gawin? Ah eto.” Yun yung first cup of coffee.
But during the rest of the day kasi I still take coffee. Much like yung mga nag-respond sa tanong natin, it’s a good conversation starter. Pero sa akin, may isang use pa sa akin yung coffee. Parang break talaga siya sa akin. I take that coffee pag antok ka na or pagod ka na. It’s almost like a reset. Inom ka ng coffee para reset ka for the day. Madalas, yung reset na yun after lunch. Yung tapos ka na sa umaga pero marami ka pang gagawin sa hapon. I want to reset things. Yun yung pangalawang coffee ko.
That’s coffee for me: fuel tsaka reset button.
Nakaka-ilang tasa ka ba ng kape sa isang araw?
I think down to three or four na yata ako ngayon. Mas marami pa dati tsaka depende sa dami ng gagawin. When we have meetings, masarap magkape so dagdag din yun sa dami ng iniinom.
Actually almost same din sa akin yung functional na aspect nung coffee sa paggising mo sa umaga. Parang bago mo buksan yung laptop mo, bago mo magbasa, or bago mo isipin yung gagawin mo parang, “Wait, coffee talaga muna.” Pagkatapos, “Ok. Game.” May ganun eh.
And then interesting din yung coffee conversations na nangyayari dun sa binanggit mo na after lunch. I guess doon sa sumagot na it elicits creativity sa conversations, I remember itong podcast na ito napag usapan natin after lunch habang nagkakape. Yung idea ng podcast, yun yung napag usapan natin.
It gets me started doon sa araw ko. Siguro yung isang value rin ng coffee for me ay symbolic, in a way. Number one, yung creativity. Secondly, nag start akong uminom talaga ng brewed coffee siguro mga 2016. Growing up, instant pa yan. College, instant pa rin yan. Pagkain and allowance. 2016 una kong natikman yung Ifugao kape sa Lagawe. Yun yung first ko na experience na, “Oh, ganito yung experience talaga ng kape.”
From there, sabi ko na yung kape, it’s really meant to be experienced. Doon ko din natutunan na iba iba talaga siya ng amoy, lasa. Pag sinabi mo na yung kape mo masarap, kailangan mo pa siyang i-deconstruct. Ano yung kasarapan niya?
I came to realize na yung paborito kong lasa na kape ay earthy, full bodied na black. Yung iba kasi gusto nila yung hints of citrusy and fruitiness. Sa akin mas chocolatey.
Siguro yung generation ngayon ng mga millenials ang hugot generation. Ginagamit din ang kape na reference na parang, “Oh, kamusta yung kape mo? Tapang ng kape ko. Tapang na kaya kang ipaglaban.” Yung mga ganyan. Yung culture ng generation na nirerefer sa kape ay very, very interesting din for me.
Nabanggit ko yung favorite ko na lasa ng kape na may pagka-chocolatey. Ikaw ba, ano yung gusto mong lasa ng kape mo?
Paborito kong kape brewed coffee with milk and sugar. Alam ko maraming magagalit na, bakit mo nilalagyan ng milk and sugar? But the reality is, nag rereact yung katawan ko kapag purong kape. Pagnilalagyan mo ng milk and coffee, medyo nakakayanan mong uminom ng stronger coffee. Ako, umiinom ako ng kapeng barako. Maraming nagsasabi na, “Nako! Best taken black.” Pero yun nga eh, nagrereact yung tiyan ko so ang naging timpla ko may gatas at asukal. Hindi creamer, gatas at asukal.
Kaya pala kapag may mga meetings tayo sa coffee shop, ang order mo ay Flat White.
Tama! Kasi yung gatas yung habol. But I appreciate naman yung iba ibang amoy, lasa. I suppose nasanay na rin ako na may halo siya na milk at sugar. How about you, Bry? Ano yung para sa iyo? Pareho lang ba na black parin?
Yes, actually black parin sa office, sa bahay di nagbago. Pero recently, nagtry na rin ako pang break nga doon sa usual na black na lasa. Nag-add na rin ako ng milk pero wala parin sugar. Yun yung wala talaga, pati dito sa bahay ko walang sugar so there’s no chance na magkaroon ng sugar yung coffee ko.
Interesting din because sa pagtry ng ibang klase ng kape…yung una kong na-try sa Cordillera, sa Bukidnon, and other parts ng country. Doon ko na-realize na, “Ok sige. Ito talaga yung gusto kong lasa.”
Pero open din ako doon sa iba pa. Sometimes I order yung Flat White din or machiatto kung gusto ko ng matamis. Yung tamis na hanap ko, mas galing sa caramel keysa sa sugar.
Saan naman ikaw nakakahanap or nakakabili ng kape mo na iyon?
Ang sarap sagutin nito pre-pandemic at tsaka now na nasa pandemic. Isa ito sa mga real na, hindi naman problema, pero sa qualms ko dahil hindi ka na makalabas, hindi ka na makahanap na ng sources, limitado na talaga yung kape.
Before the pandemic, ang favorite sources ko ng coffee ay Baguio Public Market at yung Cafe de Lipa. May gas station where you can buy yung Cafe de Lipa. Baguio City Public Market coffee, marami na rin siyang good memories. Yung memories of lining up habang ginigiling nila yung beans, amoy na amoy mo diba? Lahat kayo. Yung mga kasama mo sa pila, parang nagiisip na, “Meron pa kaya ng kape na gusto ko?”
Part ng experience ko yun so gusto ko yung kape sa Baguio City Public Market. Masarap siya, malasa. But also, may alaala na na-invoke. Yung sarap ng kape and yung pagaalangan mo na, “Meron pa kayang matitira sa akin?” Then, pagkabili mo ng half kilo, one kilo o anuman ang napili mong light or medium roast…meron kang feeling na, “Ay! Meron akong maiuuwi.”
Isa yun sa ni-rerelive ko every now and then pagka-iniisip ko yung kape. But because of the pandemic, ang source ko tulad ng marami sa atin ay local coffee suppliers. Marami sa web. Ang favorite ko actually ay ang Basilio coffee, yung Tinatangi Blend. I get beans and then gina-grind siya and then brewed coffee siya. Ito yung morning coffee. Ito rin yung reset coffee ko ngayong pandemic.
How about you, Bry?
Actually yung beans na binibili niyo rin. Yung experience ng grinding pag uwi niyo ay part din talaga ng overall…actually doon palang nandun na yung smellscape ng kape sa pag grind mo palang.
Doon lumalabas yung amoy.
Parang nag start na talaga yung pag-elicit ng mood sa kape. Actually sa Cordillera din. Simula noong nakwento ko yung Ifugao sa 2016 nagbebenta na rin sila online. Sometimes I order. Pagnapapadaan din diyan sa north, sa Bencab Museum, meron din sila doon na kape. Isa yun sa mga inuuwi ko pabalik.
Tapos this quarantine last year, yang Basilio na kape na binanggit mo, yan ang nagsalba sa akin last year sa aking longing sa kape. Actually, medyo nag struggle din ako noon kasi hindi ata sila makadeliver sa LBC dahil very limited pa ata yung ECQ noon. Nakahanap ako sa Lazada so may naorder ako. Kung Tinatangi Blend yung sa iyo, sa akin yung Munimuni Blend. Yun yung tinry ko at yun yung naging kape ko last year, buong taon.
Pagbalik ko sa Makati this year, may mga nagbukas naman na local na coffee shops. Yung kape ko right now ay galing sa Commune coffee shop sa Makati at meron din ang Bote Central, yung nagproduce ng Basilio na instant na kape. Meron na silang powdered na coffee. Pagka sobrang nagmamadali ako, late ako nag stay, may meeting na, yun yung pinakamabilis na way doon sa aking caffeine kicks.
Actually, pinaguusapan natin itong personal natin na affinity and experience sa kape at pinaguusapan din natin yung Basilio na isa sa mga common na iniinom natin na kape. Doon din sa mga nagbanggit sa survey natin o sa audience natin na nagsabi na they’re actually willing to experiment with their perfect type of coffee or are interested to know or to source local coffee, good thing we have a special guest for that.
So joining us in this coffee conversation, or I’d like to say “kapihan session,” is Alvira Reyes. Mas kilala natin siya na Vie. She’s the acting President of Philippine Coffee Alliance and also a grantee ng Forest Foundation Philippines.
Yung Philippine Coffee Alliance is a network of smallholder coffee farmers and key players in local agribusiness. They promote local and of course, local coffee farmers sa kanilang livelihoods and enterprises.
Tayo sa Foundation, and in partnership with Coffee Alliance, are currently working on a project titled, “Empowering the Coffee Value Chains of Forest Communities via Community-based Social Enterprises” which is a sustainable livelihoods program para sa mga farmers ng Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.
So without further ado, welcome natin si Vie Reyes. Hello Vie, magandang araw sa iyo!
Hello, Vie. Magandang araw din!
Magandang araw din po sa inyong lahat! A very, very good afternoon to everybody.
Kasalukuyan din ba kayong nagkakape ngayon?
I’m on my third cup for the day.
Ako second pa lang.
Kami ni Vie, third!
Usually, third cup after lunch na yan. My schedule is after lunch kasi fueled by coffee yan.
Actually, pinaguusapan namin ni Onggie kanina yung ibig sabihin ng kape para sa amin at yung paborito namin kape at saan namin sinosource.
We’d like to ask you din sana ano yung coffee para sa iyo?
Coffee, for me, coffee is life. I was listening to some comments kanina, “what is coffee for them,” “what is coffee for each one.” Ang ganda ng mga sagot. Mostly, siguro 98%, very positive ang sagot. What is coffee to each and every one?
For me, talaga, lifesaver…hindi lang lifesaver…coffee is my life.
Can you tell us more about, doon sa kung paano ang coffee ay buhay? Sa inyo ko din narinig ito before, na ang bawat tasa ng kape ay may kwento. Can you share with us stories siguro of coffee sa Philippines?
Sa dinami-dami ng tasa ng kape, ang dami rin kwento niyan. Let me see, one cup-story at a time. What comes to me right now is nagumpisa ng Alamid. We started with Alamid. That was my entry point in coffee. I wasn’t a coffee drinker, not even instant coffee. I didn’t have any inkling before about what coffee was about before we became coffee entrepreneurs.
So Alamid, the most expensive coffee in the world. We’re selling it right now at 24,000 pesos per kilo…was our entry-level sa coffee industry. At the time, we were really bankrupt. My family and I were getting crumbs…talagang bankrupt kami. This is public knowledge, that we went bankrupt and it was coffee that saved us, literally. Even my marriage…hugot yan, pero that’s another story!
Ayan na nga ang hugot generation. Mga anong taon po ito?
This was 2004.
Around this time, kasama na po kayo sa Coffee Alliance or Bote Central pa rin ito?
That was Bote Central only. It only became Bote Central because we were into the bottling business. We were not into coffee, so talagang 2004 it was a transition for us from bottles to vinegar to coffee. And we chose coffee because we saw the impact.
Yung effect ng coffee sa farmers, environment…we used to go up the mountains eh. My husband and I, Basil. We used to go up mountains and forests and we would meet a lot of people. We also go scuba diving and we meet a lot of people both in forests and sa dagat. We know the terrain and yung impact na ginawa ng coffee, not just on our lives, but on the people themselves na nagaalamid at the time.
Nagsabi sa amin na, “Please, ma’am. Mag regular coffee na rin kayo.” That was the starting point why we entered into the regular coffee business.
Yung coffee business niyo, ma’am…it started with Alamid and you worked with small coffee farmers? Or meron malaking plantation? Is there a difference kung plantation ba ang approach or ating smallholder, small farmers?
Very good question, Onggie. Alamid was just for a target few. Only the people living in the forests. Yun lang ang kausap namin doon. It was an eye opener for us. What it was to them, mga pickers…these are people living in the forest communities doon sa baba at banda sa gitna. They were the start of our contact points.
Yung pinursue niyo, ma’am, mga maliliit na farmers? Hindi siya pang malakihan? I’m always thinking of anong scale ang pinaka-maganda and of course both on part of the environment and on part of the product.
We found ways na both macro and micro should work together. Pag sinabing smallholder, alam mo talaga who is the smallholder. When you talk about industry, you should know who the industry or what the industry is all about. The landscape. Then you merge the two, you see the gaps, you fill in the gaps, and whatever is needed by both the smallholder and the industry, you combine the strategies. And you have a formula. The formula doesn’t have to be what is being given at the moment by the industry players. You should look at it from outside the box, always.
That’s how we do it, because if we look at it inside the box, everybody is just looking at the same thing and we won’t be able to give a solution that we think will work for the two players that we’re working with. Remember, we’re talking about industry and the smallholder farmer. You can’t go either or. It has to be both.
So interesting yun. I always thought na parang…I guess this is my ignorance coming into play…either industry ka or kampi ka sa maliliit na coffee growers. What you’re saying, Vie, is you have to find a way na makakatrabaho mo sila pareho at yun ang best way forward?
My heart will always go for the smallholder farmers. But I have to see in a perspective that is not just pangkabayo. I have to have 360 degrees, otherwise it will not be sustainable. That’s why, when we talk about industry, very, very few people or players in the industry look at coffee as a partner of the environment. Pero kami, that was the first and foremost entry level sa coffee. It has to be working with the environment. Alamid..being wild and natural. You cannot work against nature, you can’t work against the environment. Kailangan kakampi ang environment. That’s why, even when we communicate what is Alamid, or what is civet coffee…civet coffee is a gift for us from the environment because it made us understand how coffee should be.
Very interesting and inspiring yung idea na iyon na working with nature sa sustainability aspect din ng coffee. Vie, can you share with us yung observation mo doon sa landscape ng coffee farming? Siguro ten years ago noong nag start kayo and yung observation mo right now during the pandemic?
When we were starting before in 2004, nobody wanted to sell us coffee. We talked to the farmers in Cordillera, in Benguet. We were asking coffee from them and they said, “There’s no coffee here.” We were inside their homes…lo and behold they had coffee na naka sako. Pero…very bad quality. But we bought them anyway. We bought those sacks pero we had to tell them, “This is bad coffee.” But we bought because, kung hindi mo bibilhin, who will buy?
So that was the first thing we did. We bought coffee from the Cordillera farmers and we increased the price from 60 pesos per kilo or 40 to 60 pesos per kilo at the time, binili namin siya at 80 to 100 pesos per kilo.
Doble kami, and sabi ng mga players sa amin, the first ever Filipino conference that was nationwide was held in 2006. It was also in Baguio. Doon nakita na namin kung sino yung kakampi namin and kalaban namin sa industriya. It was really apparent who we should be working with and we made the right choice. So that was the first thing you should do, that was the first thing we did.
I’m very happy to note that at the present, yung state ng coffee farmers ngayon…they are alive. I will sum it up in just one word: alive. From the time we started in 2004, alive na ngayon ang coffee farmers and I’m referring to them talking at the same time. Ang dami kong ka-text, ka-phone chat, ka-Messenger chat.
They are all talking at the same time. Pakiramdam ko nga na nakakapagod at nakaka-draining everyday, but it’s alive and they understand. They want to understand what is happening now, they want to learn more. I see that they are starting to have passion in them.
If you notice, lahat ng mga coffee questions kanina, the answers were full of passion and we see that now in the coffee farmers.
Yeah, very interesting you mentioned and described the coffee industry right now as alive from kape na nakakagising to kape to gising na gising sa panahon ngayon and very interesting yun for me.
Also Vie, kanina din diba may tanong tayo doon sa audience natin. Saan nila sinosource yung kape nila at napansin ko na kung ano yung pinakamalapit, kung ano pinaka available sa kanina yun yung binibilhan nila. Pero ano ba yung pathways or mga paraan siguro para mas makarating sa mas malawak na consumers yung local coffee natin?
I’m a very positivist person. Yung attitude ko is always on the positive side. So when I see negative, I always see the other side of it. But I think there is room to communicate right now. There’s a lot of opportunity for the market to understand better. There’s a lot of room to build awareness, market awareness, communication.
It’s all of a matter of messaging it. Giving the right communication, yung sustainability, yung kwento ng nationalism, yung kwento ng hope. It’s all about giving back the values that’s why when you mentioned Basillo.
Basillo as a coffee, Basillo as a name that we use because we believe that we should revolutionize the landscape of coffee kahit man lang sa kape makapagdulot kami ng pagbabago dito sa ating bansa. Yun lang ang aming selfish reason why we are pushing this. Why we are committed to this. We want to see hope and nationalism at least through coffee.
Not selfish at all Vie.
Kanina narinig ko yung iba, pati ako, I’d like to imagine na I’m getting my coffee from single-source origins or ways na pinaka-mababa yung carbon footprint. As one of the pillars of the coffee industry and as a great supporter of small coffee holder farmers, how can we, yung coffee drinkers, support further yung locally sourced coffee?
By consciously buying and supporting one cup at a time. I believe in the domino effect. I believe that you start with the cup today, this morning, and you drink another one this afternoon, you drink the third cup tomorrow…it’s one cup at a time and I’m willing to go at that rate because I believe na it’s either word of mouth.
Alam ko when something good is happening, yung mathematical equation niya is dimensional agad. Nagiging different dimensions yung effect. Sorry, I’m not making sense right now. What I’m trying to say is when you do something good one cup at a time, iba yung effect niya. Iba yung pagdami.
Actually it makes sense. Nakakatuwa nga na that’s how you phrased it na we can make changes, we can support locally-sourced coffee one cup at a time. I guess very clear sa amin na purposeful siya, hahanapin mo. At yun, pag natikman mo, tuloy-tuloy na. It’s going to be part of yung ritual mo, yung routine mo, yung pangaraw-araw mo. Salamat sa paglarawan na ganun, Vie.
I believe in collectivism na collective efforts. Although we each have our own individual efforts and individual interests, but when we are collective as a nation, as a community, as an enterprise, as one big major unit. Naniniwala ako na ang diversity natin ay magiging asset nating lahat.
I really like this idea of coffee as a resource or commodity that can contribute to nation building. I like that message, Vie. But if I may just return siguro, connected sa mas magiging conscious natin of buying and supporting local coffee farms…can you share yung experience ninyo sa Philippine Coffee Alliance in terms of supporting yung livelihoods ng smallholder farmers natin? Can you expound pa the idea of working with the environment, how do we conserve forests while also meeting yung needs ng communities natin doon sa pagpapalago ng kape?
Again, another good question because it is an opportunity for me to mention the fact that the communities we work with, as in partnership with Forest Foundation Philippines and Philippine Coffee Alliance, in the Bukidnon-Misamis Oriental landscape over there in Mindanao, has made some changes in their culture of drinking coffee.
Because they now want or favor, prefer, to drink the locally-produced coffee and locally-processed coffee. It is, for me, napakalaking transformation niyan because instead of drinking instant coffee, they see it as aspirational.
When the base of the pyramid market drinks instant coffee, they see it as aspirational for them. Maganda kasi yung packaging ng instant coffee, maganda yung marketing, maganda yung mga influencers. It works for them, everything. They’re the king and the queen of instant coffee because the instant coffee manufacturers are talking to them. But when we find that niche of communication to talk to the market that we are really talking to, we want to transform and convert.
That’s what I’m really gunning for. That’s what I’m aiming for right now. If I am able to communicate to the 85% market for instant coffee, for soluble coffee in the Philippines, this is already something for us. Maka-10% or 5%, sabi sa amin when we were starting with coffee in 2004, there was someone from agriculture who told us that you should be able to move at least 5%. I’m still aiming for that 5% if we are able to get that 5%, we know we can move further.
Such a big dream but we’re not stopping.
I suppose it makes sense na target mo yung mas maraming nagkakape at gusto nila yung what is accessible sa kanila. Pero yung isa sa gusto kong balikan at pagusapan, Vie, perhaps it’s a perception na pare-pareho lang ang lasa ng kape. Para sa akin, iba. May kaibahan yung iniinom ko na kape sa Maramag as opposed to yung sineserve sa mall. Ano yung pinagkaiba? Or meron ba talagang pinagkaiba in terms of coffee flavor, o guniguni mo lang yun? Appreciation lang?
Meron bang pinagkaiba ang local coffee as opposed to yung inimport natin or yung pinasok ng Starbucks?
Meron po. Bawat lupa, bawat tasa, bawat farm. For example, if you were in one mountain and 10 or 20 farmers nakapalibot, they have planted the same trees. Bigyan natin ng isang scenario na pare-pareho sila, but iba po yung soil condition sa lupa na iyon because may pakinabang yung araw tuwing umaga, may area na tuwing hapon lang yung araw, meron yung slope ng soil. These little factors all contribute to the quality of the coffee that you make. From soil to cup, each and every step along the way will contribute to a change. Yung roasting naman meron din na bawat temperature there are different chemicals that are formed sa bawat temperature at change in degree of temperature. Sa pagtitimpla ng kape…ang air coffee press iba sa moka, iba sa coffee maker, iba sa espresso. Ang laki-laki po ng mundo ng kape. One day kulang pa iyan, introduction to coffee pa lang yan.
Yung narinig ko sa iyo kanina, Onggie, you are a milk and sugar drinker. I don’t mind! You drink coffee the way you want to. Don’t let anybody dictate how you should have your coffee. That is the number one rule on how to drink coffee. Dati po, akala ko din walang pagkakaiba but when you start to taste different kinds of coffee, different varietals, different origins, your palate will be taught. Natuturuan ang dila.
May memories tayo. Each one of us has particular memories to particular coffee. Sometimes masarap uminom ng kape sa bundok na malamig, mataas. Iba ang feeling ng kape pero, have you ever thought that the water there was different from the water that you’re drinking at your own place? So may tubig na nagfafactor doon na hindi natin nakikita immediately.
So there are a lot of nuances that will make you different. Now, is local coffee really different from Indonesian coffee? Ang sagot ko lang po diyan ay, kahit siguro yung kakambal mo na hindi mo pala alam na may kakambal, nabuhay sa Indonesia, then you find out. Of course you will always find the similarities between the two of you, but you will be different from the other one even if it’s your twin at tumubo siya sa Indonesia because the environment is different.
Not only the environment, but also all the other factors that I mentioned a while ago. Every step along the value chain. So local coffee will be different. Filipino coffee will have the mark of a Filipino coffee, no matter how much is alike or similar to a Brazilian, Indonesian, or Vietnam coffee.
Sobrang complex talaga ng pagtimpla ng kape, ano? Ito yun, once you opened up yourself doon sa consciousness na yon, magkakaiba yung lasa ng kape. Actually paghigop mo iba yung sa una at may middle pa yan, iba din sa last, tapos may ibang temperature yung kape mo nagiiba din yung lasa.
I guess, just build your own bodily memory sa ganun. Yung isang naexperience ko before is that nagtry ako magamoy ng kung ano-ano sa supermarket na hindi mo pwedeng gawin in this pandemic. Hindi siya pwede.
Just to build yung vocabulary ko, yung olfactory na experience para pag sinabi kong, “Mabango siya,” may, “Anong klase ng bango?” May associated memory.
Sorry, Bry. Susundan ko lang train of thought mo na napaka-swerte ko in that point dahil ang dami kong kape na naiinom dito at naaamoy. Iba ibang klase ng kape. I’m very fortunate to be in that position as compared to you na hindi ka pwede mangamoy ng iba iba.
At tsaka yun, magkakaiba talaga tayo so pwedeng merong naamoy mo siya na masyadong citrusy pero sa iyo hindi. And that’s ok. It’s ok na hindi tayo magkapareho ng preferences, amoy, or panlasa sa kape as long as it suits yung idea natin doon sa kung paano yung value ng kape ay para sa atin.
Siguro, Vie, isang katanungan din doon sa nabanggit mo kanina. Sa bundok, nakakamiss tuloy yung magkape pagkatapos mo mag hike sa taas. Iba nga ang lasa na iyon.
May mga current na pagaaral na nagsasabi na because of changes sa weather and sa climate, naapektuhan din of course yung estado ng mga kape natin. Yung iba, mas prone na sa diseases, or yung iba mas hindi na tumutubo sa certain areas kasi mas mainit doon.
Sa experience niyo sa Philippine Coffee Alliance, may mga observations ba kayo ng challenges sa coffee farmers natin?
Yes, as I’ve said, dahil coffee is a natural plant that grows best in an ecosystem or forest ecosystem, prone siya sa mga climate change. Lalo na yung mga micro-climate changes natin. Minsan bigla na lang siyang mahuhulog…bakit kaya? Maraming tuloy-tuloy na pagsasaliksik ang kailangan natin na dapat inoobserve natin ang mga mga coffee trees natin. Yung behavior niya sa bawat pagbabago ng panahon. Because, gaya ngayon, bigla na lang tayo na-COVID last year out of the blue. We are in lockdowns and a lot of things, as turn of events. Iba na talaga ngayon. Not just in climate change, but change would really happen…naging solution natin diyan was not to be too dependent on the production of coffee alone, but to do a strategy wherein we can do value-adding in coffee. Whatever existing production we have right now, but we do not stop planting.
Planting in the sense na not to cut down trees, but to plant coffee together with the trees. Kailangan natin yung root system, yung ecosystem. We want the ecosystem to protect the coffee trees and vice-versa.
The production shall always be there. Effort to campaign for supply, to promote supply, will always be there. But we need other mechanisms like…ang nakita nga namin na solution in the Coffee Alliance program was the Kape at Buhay.
Again, andiyan na naman ang coffee at life because it has to be coupled with enterprise. We have to see an economic value of coffee and we saw that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the business model that we espoused and advocated in fact worked to the advantage of the communities and the market itself that it serves within the congruent areas.
Because of the lockdowns, we were discouraged from trading with one another, but if you had facilities inside your communities serving the local market within and nearby, we were able to support the farmers’ needs and requirements not just by trading green beans but also by drinking their own coffee and selling coffee that already has added value.
In that case, roasted coffee na siya. Whether it serves the high-end market or the mass market, it really doesn’t matter for as long as we’re able to serve the needs and requirements of the market, good na kami doon.
Nakita na namin na it would work because we witnessed it.
Thank you, Vie, sa pag share mo. Actually, meron online documentary series na Kape at Buhay na uploaded sa Facebook ng Philippine Coffee Alliance. Gusto pa natin malaman yung kwento at buhay doon sa kape. Thanks again, Vie.
Maraming salamat, Vie, sa pagbahagi ng life story mo with coffee. Ang galing ng pagpapaliwanag kung paano iuugnay natin yung kape at papaano rin mapapaigi din natin ang pagpapalaganap at pagtatanim ng kape at pagbibili ng kape from small farm owners. Kasama niyo kami na magmomove towards more people looking for sustainable coffee sources one cup at a time.
Right, one cup at a time. I like how yung coffee can be personal and also a collective that can bind us as a nation. I like that idea, and gusto ko rin pasalamatan lahat ng nag send sa atin ng kanilang recordings. As a token of appreciation, sinabi ninyo ang coffee for you ay “means sa conversation at connection,” so nagpadala kami sa inyo ng Life Stories: Cards for Conversations na ginawa Where to Next, with the support from Forest Foundation. To know more about where you can get local coffee beans or grounds, please visit the Facebook page of Philippine Coffee Alliance. So I hope ipagpatuloy natin yung ganitong klaseng conversations over coffee, mindfulness doon sa mga iniinom natin na kape, and pagbuild ng further relationships with the help of coffee.
Gubatbp. featuring Alvira “Vie” Reyes | March 28, 2021
Alvira Reyes is the Executive Director of Bote Central and Acting President of Philippine Coffee Alliance. The Philippine Coffee Alliance is a SEC-registered network of smallholder coffee farmers and key players in local agribusiness. They aim for promoting and empowering local coffee farmers by preparing them for entrepreneurship.
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