Cordillera Mountains, Northern Luzon, Philippines
Producer: Ma'am Shirley of G-Sips Farm
Social Impact: Supports Women Farmers, Indigenous Communities Smallholder Co-Op
Roast Type: Medium - Dark
Notes: Brown sugar, Coconut, Currant
Altitude: 1327 masl
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
The Tuba Benguet Coffee Growers Association (TUBENCOGA) was organized in 2007 with only 35 members. Now, the community has 129 members—95 of whom are women.
Shirley Ignacio Palao-ay—who has been a coffee farmer since 2010—is the chairperson of TUBENCOGA. “People need to plant 50 seedlings before they become members,” she shares.
In 2012, propelled by her desire to improve the quality of her coffee, Shirley signed up for a class about packaging and technology. She shared what she learned with her community. The result was coffee with better quality and higher yield.
“It all starts with a seed, so make sure you select the good ones. Visit your trees not just during harvest time. By doing so, you are able to prevent pests. Clean it regularly and put compost. These will ensure more cherries. When they bloom, pick the ones in the middle,” reveals Shirley.
When I asked about their women members, Shirley beamed with pride because they are the active pickers. They are more diligent. “There’s something about picking red coffee cherries. It relieves stress,” she says with a laugh. TUBENCOGA applies wet and semi-wet processing. The members meet every 15th of the month to make sure these best practices are discussed and constantly applied.
Shirley’s lifelong commitment to farming coffee has, indeed, borne fruit in every sense. She and Dr. Val Macanes—her mentor in the packaging and technology class in 2012—were proclaimed by CQI’s international cuppers as two of the top ten producers of quality Philippine Arabica coffee in the recent Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality Grading Competition. Dr. Val ranked second and his student ranked eighth.
This natural coffee is brought to you by 12 farmer families, and all of their hard work and labor is evident in the cup.