Journey of the Bean

It may look far from it, but this is the origin of your cup of coffee. Coffee cherries turn red as they ripen, which signals the time for harvest.

Without a doubt, coffee has become indispensable to our way of life. As the second most consumed beverage around the world (next only to water), its stimulating effects have powered cities through arduous workdays and mediated some of the world’s most pivotal conversations. As one of the most traded global commodities, the coffee industry has forged empires that have banked on its unwavering demand. And with an estimated two billion servings consumed daily around the world, have you ever taken a second to wonder how it gets from the ground to your cup?

As its popularity has exponentially grown throughout the past few generations, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this dark elixir has evolved along with us. Whether it’s a basic black brew in your favorite “kapehan” (local coffee shop) or a mocha Frappuccino with extra whipped cream in that chic cafe, the multitude of ways that coffee is prepared and consumed nowadays has made it accessible to every individual’s preference. But despite all the newly emerging trends, Paul Jasper Javellana, owner of Kapipat Cafe in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City, still believes that coffee is best made and enjoyed the traditional way. He tells us, “We are a coffee shop that is more on the traditional way of brewing coffee since we do not use espresso machines. The traditional way uses a ‘choreador’, or what we also refer to as ‘medyas’ (sock) or ‘katsa’ (cheesecloth). We let the coffee bloom first in the ‘katsa’ where we then filter it several times over.” When asked whether the juice is worth the squeeze when it comes to this meticulous process, he gave us his biggest smile and said, “Lain gid ya (nothing compares to it).” And after allowing the taste to linger after a few good sips, it truly was hard to disagree.

KapiPat is an eco-friendly coffee shop in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City. They encourage customers to avoid single-use plastics and opt for reusable containers.

Settling in and taking a glance around KapiPat’s interiors, you immediately sense something special about the place. This charming hole-in-the-wall fuses together the nostalgic atmosphere of old-fashioned coffee shops with a curated aesthetic similar to the artisan cafes that have populated the city. From the murals on the wall, the metal straws for their much-talked-about egg coffee, to the aquaculture display near the counter, every corner of KapiPat seems to convey a subconscious message that leaves a lasting impression.

KapiPat owner, Paul “Poks” Javellana. One of his main advocacies is supporting fellow local entrepreneurs in Negros.

Being a long-time ecological advocate, Paul remains grounded in his principles allowing it to reflect on his business practices as an entrepreneur. Kapipat encourages everyone to clean as they go, campaigns against single-use plastic, and gives discounts to customers who bring their own mugs. In 2021, along with other local establishments, KapiPat partnered with the Wala Usik (no waste) movement to save 600 kilos of potential plastic containers from being used. This culture endears KapiPat to its loyal following, who also appreciate being given the chance to pitch in on nature’s cause. 

Aside from all these conservation efforts, Paul takes it a step further by sourcing his raw materials from sustainable suppliers that align with his advocacy. He partnered with the Minoyan Murcia Marginalized Coffee Growers Agricultural Cooperative (M3CG-AgriCoop), a group of generational coffee farmers living in the mountains, and who aim to take coffee growing to bigger heights. To satisfy our curiosity on the coffee bean’s journey, we joined Paul up the mountains and into the woods to see where it all begins.

Through partnerships with other coffee enthusiasts, Teddy Cañete and his fellow farmers were able to widen their knowledge of coffee growing and production.

Upon taking our first whiff of Minoyan’s fresh air we were greeted by Teddy Cañete, chairman of M3CG-AgriCoop. Coming from a lineage of coffee farmers as well, Teddy has seen all the highs and lows of the trade. From an early age, it was already puzzling to him why the farmers continued to struggle despite being the backbone of a thriving industry. Determined to break the cycle, he attended seminars and workshops to gain extra knowledge to pair with his experience. Not one to forget his roots, Teddy started the M3CG-AgriCoop as a way to pass along what he learned to his fellow farmers, in the hopes of empowering them towards a more sustainable livelihood.

The Minoyan shade-grown coffee trees provide a natural ecosystem for both plants and animals while simultaneously producing fine-grade, naturally-grown coffee beans.

As we were getting ready for the two-hour climb to see where the coffee cherries are harvested, Teddy started us off on what felt like a first-class tour. He tells us about how their method of growing coffee under the shade of bigger trees is a stark contrast to the common orchard way of farming. Paul jumped in that this is what initially drew his attention to Minoyan, explaining that this style promotes the propagation of trees rather than cutting them down since a large portion of the world’s rainforests have been demolished to mass-produce coffee. Growing under the shade also allows the development of certain fungi that act as natural pesticides so no chemicals are used throughout their vegetative growth. Coffee trees produce cherries, 3.5 to 4 years after they are planted, but to ensure sustainability Teddy practices selective harvesting wherein cherries are only picked once they reach their optimal ripeness. When they’re brought back to the processing center, they undergo a scrupulous selection process and are classified according to their size and appearance. After the cream of the crop has been carefully chosen, the coffee beans round out their journey as they are dried, roasted, and finally packaged straight to your cup.

These fine-grade Robusta beans from Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental are among the top-notch quality coffee beans in the Philippines.

The farmers’ diligence to stick to these standards allowed them to consistently produce a world-class product and earned their native Robusta beans a “fine” grading during the 2021 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition, the highest honor given out. This also opened the door of opportunity for Teddy and the rest of the farmers to command a better price for their tremendous effort.

As we cap off the day back at KapiPat, we thank Paul for allowing us to tag along. He shares with us that more and more local coffee shops have been taking interest in joining this movement. He can only hope that more people support these businesses as their success is also rooted in the progress of the farmers in Minoyan and the welfare of the rainforest.

With the last few sips from our cup, we’re taken aback by the remarkable journey of this invigorating bean, and the stories of the people who guarantee we get our morning dose.    

Text By: Mayumi Espina
Photos and Video By: Unit A Creatives

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