For the first time in its history, coffee from the Philippines won specialty coffee status when it was cupped and graded at the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, Washington. And with this win, smallholder coffee farmers may start to see premium prices for their products.

The achievement followed three years of efforts by the USDA Food for Progress-funded Mindanao Productivity for Agricultural Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) project to increase the incomes of smallholder cocoa, coconut, and coffee farmers in the Philippines. The MinPACT project, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, builds the capacity of farmers, and other value chain actors, in Southern and Western Mindanao for improved farm management, increased productivity, product quality, available services, and access to markets. In addition to farmer field schools, the project also supports improved agricultural inputs, encouraging the use of financial products and mobile technology among farmers to access market information.

Led by Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, the Philippine delegation showcased their coffees in a well-attended cupping event hosted by CQI and ACDI/VOCA at the Specialty Coffee Association expo on April 20–23. There was significant enthusiasm about this new coffee origin and excitement about the quality of the coffees, including a Robusta produced by Imelda Mendoza, of the Kape Maramag Association, and an Arabica produced by Bai Adelina Tarino, of the Inhandig Tribal Multi-Purpose Cooperative—both farmers from Bukidnon.

Both varieties also won at the Philippine’s first-ever coffee competition in March. ACDI/VOCA, along with the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI), and the US-based Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), organized the Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality Competition at Cavite State University. With competitions like this occurring in-country, coffee farmers benefit from knowing the value of their product before it’s priced.

MinPACT Global Specialty Coffee Expo bagsOn the global stage, the two varieties received scores of 83 and 84 out of 100 from certified Q graders using the Q Coffee System, which recognizes those that receives 80 points or higher as specialty coffee.

After the event, the Philippine delegation participated in a tour of facilities in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, to meet with top US coffee roasters and retailers. Together, they discussed roasting techniques, storage, transport, packaging equipment, and more.

Thanks to MinPACT’s support, smallholder coffee farmers in the Philippines stand poised to acquire higher, more consistent prices and to compete globally in the specialty coffee market.


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