Cupping competition highlights emerging Ifugao coffee industry

The coffee industry in Asipulo, Ifugao got a major boost with the conduct of the first Cupping Competition during the town’s Kulpi’d Asipulo Festival on April 16, 2019. Asipulo has the biggest coffee planting area in Ifugao, a major Robusta coffee producer, with about 1,394 hectares or 55% of the province’s total coffee area.

Robusta coffee samples by 21 farmer members of the Hojap Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Hojap MPC) were rated based on the international standard of cupping and bean grading. 

Corazon Wangag, 35 years old, emerged as the first-place winner of the competition, with an average cupping score of 84.06%, followed by Leon Donato, 61, who garnered a score of 83.13%.  The third place went to Rosita Dumelod, 47, with 82.83% average cupping score.

According to Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), a non-profit organization working internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of people who produce it, coffee samples which score 80 points or above on a 100-point scale is graded ‘specialty’.

CQI created the industry’s first comprehensive guide of compiled standards and procedures that define fine Robusta coffee. The scoring is based on ten attributes: fragrance/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, salt/acid aspect ratio, bitter/sweet aspect ratio, mouthfeel, balance, uniform cups, clean cups, and overall defects, both taints and forms, of the coffee. The higher the score, the better price it commands in the specialty market.

The average cupping score is derived from the consolidated rating from the four judges tapped by the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. (PCBI), namely: PCBI’s Robert Francisco, panel chair, Mario Macalalad of Magellan Coffee, Bea Belardo of Belardo Coffee Enterprise and Jennifer Rimando of Ola Farms.

According to Rimando, the coffee submitted during the competition has shown how much the quality of coffee has improved in the region over the years.

May potensyal ang kanilang kape. Masaya ako dahil na-apply nila ang mga learnings (from the trainings). Suggestions were also given to the farmers to further upgrade the quality of their coffee,” she said.

Another judge, Macalalad, also recognized that Ifugao can now compete in the growing market of the coffee industry.  

Malaki ang inimprove ng kalidad ng kape at sa palagay ko ang mga ganitong mga competition ay makakatulong upang iangat ang kalidad ng Ifugao coffee. Kung mataas kasi ang kalidad it also dictates a better future for the industry,” he said.  

Hojap MPC’s Manager Shirley Tagtag meanwhile lauded the passion and dedication of the farmers to develop high-quality coffee products in the province.

“Ang requirement ng market kailangan ng quality. ‘Pag maganda ang kape mo, maganda ang presyo,” she said.

The competition was spearheaded by the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), in partnership with PCBI and Hojap MPC.