Women Champions in Coffee

Coffee makes great conversation for sharing good news. 

Coffee expert Chit Juan teamed up once again with the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) for another Kapihan with the theme, “Women in Coffee: Quality consciousness needs the meticulous eyes and hands of women in the coffee value chain”, featuring exceptional women in the coffee industry.

Trish Rothgeb, Director of Q at Coffee Quality Institute and founder of Wrecking Ball Coffee in San Francisco Bay Area; Princess Kumala Elardo, a coffee farmer and founder of Sulu Royal Coffee; and Ross Juan of Commune Café talked about their experiences, opportunities and challenges in the coffee value chain.

According to Trish, not enough coffee is being produced. In order to increase yield, “vertical integration can be a good business model wherein there is a cohesive value chain – from the farmers being able to understand the process from planting up to selection of beans for roasting, until the coffee reaches the market and cafes and into people’s cups; and for other stakeholders like the traders, café owners, and marketers to understand this value chain as well”.

She recently conducted a Coffee Roasting course that discussed new technologies and a more sophisticated coffee quality grading attended by coffee enthusiasts such as Princess and Ross.

Coffee for peace

Princess Kumala, a royal member from the Sulu Sultanate, highlighted the importance of coffee in their community. “Coffee gives livelihood, giving more access to education and a better life to the families”, shared Princess. According to her, in 2013 during the Zamboanga siege, farmers opted to tend their coffee farms instead of joining arms. Coffee served as “platform for peace, not just livelihood”.

After taking the class by Trish, she’s excited to go back to her community to impart and apply the learning with her Sulu Royal Coffee and farmers’ organizations, so it can be more competitive in the market.

From crops to cups

A certified coffee aficionado, Ross is the owner of Commune Café, a café+bar proudly serving only Philippine coffee. By attending the course, it gave her more appreciation to the process of quality control. “I did not realize that it takes a lot of hard work to check the beans even at its green stage” said Ross.  As vendor and marketer, she purchased a roaster and would now roast her own coffee beans.

For Chit Juan, coffee grade is only one aspect.  Another important factor is distribution or getting the coffee out of the Philippines and into the coffee shops abroad.

“If Philippine coffee wants to make its mark worldwide, coffee shops like Rothgreb’s Wrecking Ball must be able to carry and serve our coffee”.

In support of the coffee industry, the Philippine Coffee Board has organized its 9th National Coffee Summit on Oct. 12-13, sponsored by PEF, where international coffee experts are expected to attend. PEF supports this initiative as it marks its 15th year of pursuing a mission of building self-sustaining communities.