Davao del Sur, Ilocos Sur farmers dominate coffee quality competition

Coffee beans from five farmers from the Balutakay Coffee Farmers Association (Bacofa) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur were among the six winners in the Arabica category of the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC) 2021.

Coffee cherries being dried in Balutakay, Bansalan, Davao del Sur

During the virtual awarding ceremony on May 26, coffee beans from the lot of Marites Arellano placed first with an average score of 85.86. Her coffee beans topped the 30 other entries that were sent to the PCQC.

Based on the datasheet, her coffee beans were of the catimor varietal and were natural processed. Following the sensory test during the final selections, her coffee beans had notes of peach, guava, chocolate, apricot, and almond. The coffee trees of her winning lot were grown at an elevation of 1,560 meters above sea level (MASL).

“This a very gentle coffee and it’s quite a fruit bomb, moving away from the typical spice notes and the typical nutty notes and tobacco notes from Philippine coffee. Quite an outlier. Also a catimor, so this speaks a lot to the efforts that you put in your processing,” Shaun Ong, Head Judge of PCQC 2021.

Coming in second is Lendilou Loon, whose natural processed coffee beans, which are of the catimor and typica varietals, scored an average of 85.07. Her coffee registered notes of orange, caramel, pecan, sugar cane, dark chocolate, and peanuts. The coffee trees of her lot were grown at an elevation of 1,490 MASL.

In third place is Jastine Mae Dubria. Her natural processed coffee beans, which are also of the catimor varietal, scored an average of 84.71. The coffee had notes of jasmine, brown sugar, milk chocolate, figs, orange, lime, banana, and hazelnut. The coffee trees of her lot were also grown at an elevation of 1,490 MASL.

“I must say that after four years of cupping the green coffees that various producers of coffee have submitted, I must say that the quality is improving year after year. The top three arabicas are easily some of the best Arabicas I have tasted from the Philippines,” Ong, who is also the head trainer at Bettr Coffee Academy in Singapore, said.

Coffee plantation in Balutakay, Bansalan, Davao del Sur

Placing fourth is Marifel dela Cerna with her honey processed coffee, which is also of the catimor varietal. Her beans scored an average of 84.64. It had notes of dark chocolate, orange peel, cacao nibs, and capsicum. The coffee trees of her lot were grown at an elevation of 1,490 MASL.

In fifth place is George A. Dapliyan from Sagada, Mountain Province. His coffee beans, which are of the typica varietal, are washed processed and had an average score of 84.36. It had notes of roasted peanuts, lemon, orange, tangerine, and pomelo. The coffee trees of his winning lot were grown at an elevation of 1,400 MASL.

Rounding up the top six is Maria Luz Dubria with her honey processed coffee beans, which are of the catimor varietal. It registered an average score of 83.07. Her coffee had notes of caramel, orange peel, cinnamon, almond, black tea, and lemon. The coffee trees of her lot were grown at an elevation of 1,600 MASL.

“It is very awesome to see catimor varietals up in the top six. Catimor gets a lot of flak in the industry as not being a tasty coffee,” Ong said.

Coffee plantation in Balutakay, Bansalan, Davao del Sur

The recent wins of our Davao coffee farmers are seen to open new or enhance marketing opportunities, which could benefit their income.

“Right after the announcement of winners in this year’s competition, we have received numerous queries and interests from various local and international buyers on how and where to buy the winning entries,” Emmanuel Quisol, Business Development Coordinator of ACDI/VOCA, said.

John Paul Matuguinas, Department of Agriculture-Davao (DA-Davao) regional focal person for the High Value Crop Development Program (HVCDP), said farmers who made it to the top six could sell their coffee beans at a higher price. Those in the top 10 may also be able to sell their coffee beans at a better price.

“Ang PCQC nagahatag og boost sa atong mga coffee farmers kay mas ma-increase pa ilahang income, especially katong sa mga nadaog. They can sell as much as P800 per kilogram (kg) sa ilahang coffee beans kung maapil sila sa top six or top 10 (The PCQC can help increase the income of our farmers, especially those who won. They can sell their coffee beans to as much as P800/kg if they made it to the top six or top 10)” he said.


Robusta category

Meanwhile, farmers from Ilocos Sur dominated the Robusta Category.

Mabini C. Ubuan of Sigay, Ilocos Sur placed first. The natural processed coffee beans from his lot, which is at 900 MASL, scored an average of 85.54. It had notes of cherry, almond, caramel, dark chocolate, dates, and prunes. His beans were also awarded the Best Natural Processed Robusta.

“I would say it is one of the best [that] I have tasted in the past four years that we have been tasting Robusta coffees for this competition. At 900 meters above sea level, it has sweetness and complexity pretty much like with an Arabica coffee,” Cherry Cruz, PCQC Technical Working Group chairperson and CEO of Barista & Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA), said.

She also noted how the judges were smiling while tasting the coffee.

“Good job to the farmer who did her best on this coffee,” Cherry said.

In second place are the natural processed coffee beans from Marielle M. Gannad of Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur. Grown at an elevation of 640 MASL, her beans scored an average of 84.39. Fruity, black currant, cherry, pineapple, and raising are the notes recorded for the coffee beans.

The coffee beans of Erlinda Dao-ayan of Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur placed third with an average score of 84.29. His natural processed coffee beans had notes of cherries, strawberries, berries, caramel, and almonds. Her coffee trees were grown at an elevation of 800 MASL.

“The top three robustas are easily the best robustas I have ever tasted as a judge in the last four years,” Ong said.

On the fourth spot is Rodolfo A. Aciong from Quirino, Ilocos Sur. His natural processed coffee beans scored an average of 84.07. It had notes of wine, cherry, guava, chocolate, and cinnamon. His coffee trees were grown at an elevation of 1,100 MASL.

Placing fifth are the coffee beans from Juana Bitongan from Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur. Her natural processed coffee beans had an average score of 83.68 and had notes of chocolate, caramel, red berries, orange, plum, and coco sugar. The coffee beans came from coffee trees grown at an elevation of 800 MASL.

Rounding up the top six is Pablo Helomoc from Pigtauranan, Bukidnon. His coffee beans had an average score of 83.46. It had notes of spice, white pepper, dried mango, caramel, and cacao. The coffee trees of his entry were grown at an elevation of 1,200 to 1,400 MASL.

Eljean Dagohoy’s natural processed coffee beans were awarded Best Honey Processed Robusta. With an average score of 81.46, it had notes of caramel, honey, cocoa, walnut, hazelnut, and soft durian.


PCQC 2021

The PCQC is a joint initiative of the public and private sector that started in 2018 to promote Philippine Coffee. It is being organized jointly by the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), ACDI/VOCA, Barista & Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA), and Coffee Quality Institute.

“The PCQC has become a platform that heightened the consciousness of Filipino farmers on the need to increase the coffee quality and enhance the competitiveness of their coffee products in order to do well in both in the local and international markets,” Quisol said.

He added that the PCQC has instilled in the minds of local farmers and coffee-producing communities the value and importance of quality coffee along with consumer safety, market trust, value-adding while ensuring sustainable livelihood among key players in the Philippine coffee value chain and market systems.

For this year, a total of 103 entries were submitted to the PCQC. Due to the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the entries were graded and assessed at the UCC Coffee Academy of Asia in Metro Manila while others in Davao City.

Fifty-five entries from the Luzon and the Visayas were graded and assessed at the UCC Coffee Academy of Asia in Metro Manila. Entries composed of 12 arabicas, 42 robustas, and one excelsa.

In Davao City, 48 entries from Mindanao were graded assessed. Entries from Mindanao included 19 Arabica, 27 robusta, and two excelsa.

“It is one of the most attended and supported years as far as the PCQC is concerned,” Cruz said.

The cupping and assessment in the finals were conducted virtually at the same time by both local and foreign judges.

PCQC’s international judges for 2021 included Krude Che-Hao Lin from Taiwan, Adi Taroepratjeka from Indonesia, and Ong. Ong is also the head judge of PCQC 2021.

This year’s cuppers include Victor R. Bas of Roaster Curve Cofee Collaborators, Daniel Byron Pantoja of Coffee for Peace, Joefel Manlod of Purge Cofee Roaster, Alexander Sumania of Jamaican F&B Training Center, Raul Roque, Ronald A. Yu of the Philippine Coffee Guild, Mimi Sabado of ACDI/VOCA – PhilCAFE Project, Gina Ellorango of Frog Kaffee & Roastery, Marietta D. Claver of JAC Farms, and BCAA’s Cruz.


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