The 2021 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC) is the Philippines’ most prestigious annual competition for the best Philippine coffee. This year’s champion in the specialty Arabica category, Marites Arellano, from the Mount Apo range in Mindanao, attributes her first-place win to the good agricultural practices she learned through the Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PhilCAFE), a program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implemented by ACDI/VOCA.

Mount Apo

For the competition, Marites said that she followed the processes she learned during a Coffee Quality Institute training organized by PhilCAFE. Two of the top six winners in her category participated in the same training, which strengthened their skills in post-harvest handling and processing of coffee products.

PhilCAFE invests in the Philippine coffee sector, which, despite its recent progress, remains in need of support to reach its full potential and deliver improved livelihood opportunities for farmers throughout the country. PhilCAFE mobilizes various coffee stakeholders using a market systems approach to address major barriers with partners and attain lasting change for the sector.

“We must combine diligence with great love for our coffee to produce high-quality products. Coffee farming does not only provide us income, but it also offers us a brighter future.”

— Marites Arellano, PhilCAFE participant and winner at 2021 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s competition saw 103 official entries spanning 12 regions of the Philippines, including 69 Robusta entries, 31 Arabica entries, and three Excelsa entries. Because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions, simultaneous judging of entries took place in Davao City and Manila. This included green coffee bean grading followed by roasting and cupping sessions performed by Philippine-based licensed Q graders. Final cupping of the top entries included international judges and took place in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

“Even with last year’s cancellation, the competition still managed to grow with the increased number of entries, particularly in the fine Robusta category.”

—TJ Ryan, chief of party of PhilCAFE

By helping smallholder coffee farmers compete nationally, the project is empowering farmers to earn premium prices for their award-winning products and further strengthen the Philippine coffee sector.

Learn more about Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise.