#CafeAntonioLB

Monday, July 2, 2012

A New Coffee Community Brewing at Kapihan.ph


There's a new online local coffee community called Kapihan.ph. We invite you to register and join us for online discussions about coffee and the Philippine coffee industry. I've recently posted a few things under the topic, "Selling the Idea of Specialty Coffee in the Philippines." The topic is based on an article written by barista, Devin Chapman. I would like to share some of the points I made in the forum (for those who are not yet members of Kapihan.ph):

* here's an article by Devin Chapman posted in scaa.org. please share your thoughts about the article. he has many interesting points regarding the relatively young specialty coffee industry in the US. here's my favorite line from the article: "Sales-focus training should teach baristas the basics of engaging and welcoming consumers, encompassing hospitality training with specifics on how to approach those who know little to nothing about coffee."

here's the link:source: http://www.scaa.org/chronicle/2012/05/2 ... -industry/

in our small town of los banos, coffee is just coffee. in other words, coffee is the same no matter where you get the beans or where the beans are from. most of us associate coffee quality with the cafe or the shop, not the origin of the beans. but when we tell people that coffee can be so much more than what they're used to, that's when conversations start. it could be a huge task, especially for cafe owners, to explain with patience. we explain our coffee offerings every single day, every single order. but it's such a rewarding experience to see customers smile because they know that they learned something new that day. i hope we could pass that attitude of enthusiasm to our baristas and employees

* just checked if there were any replies to my post. i'm glad that people here are very optimistic about the direction of our coffee industry. i hope kapihan.ph will bring together like-minded people regardless of company or affiliation.

i've been a barista for 5 years and a cafe owner for 4 years, i'm relatively new to the industry. the better part of those past few years were spent on barista training and entrepreneurial development. now that I have somehow "matured" in my technical and entrep skills, i'm starting to realize the need for more coffee research. not just to help our own companies and shops but to help the local coffee industry as a whole.

using an analogy from racing, coffee professionals are the race car drivers, and our shops are our race cars. all of us should be helping one another so we can have a wonderful race track to compete in. the race track being the coffee industry.

i'm from los banos and my shop is near the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). i've always daydreamed that there would be a similar research facility for local coffee. to achieve this, i guess we need the combined efforts of coffee professionals (cafe owners, baristas, roasters, farmers), the academe (agronomists, chemists, social scientists), and the support of the local government. the task ahead seems daunting, but there's no better time to start but now! 

* it's good to hear that local coffee companies are taking steps to improve our situation. i really think it is these companies with resources that should lead the way. however, the scope of coffee is very wide. learning and understanding coffee needs a multidisciplinary approach. i hope that in this forum we'll be able to identify the specific problems the industry will face. we should also recognize who among us are knowledgeable in addressing and identifying the several agricultural, environmental, economic, political, social, and even medical issues involving coffee production and consumption.

in reality, not all of us are equally interested in coffee germplasm research, chemistry and soil science, espresso machine engineering, coffee shop management, health benefits of coffee, or even barista and latte art training. we may have common knowledge of these things as participants in the coffee industry but what we know are very limited to our own unique individual experiences.

the key here is to consolidate resources and expertise. we may not be able to raise financial resources here in kapihan.ph (for now) but what we can do is consolidate ideas and knowledge from different disciplines and technical backgrounds.

* that's correct. we're on the verge of an economic boom here, with coffee leading the charge. it may not manifest instantly, but it will eventually, with our efforts to help each other, educate one another, and have an attitude of humility, learning, and knowledge-seeking.

* it's a good thing you brought this up. we wouldn't want to be in an ivory tower all by ourselves talking about specialty coffee. there's no progress in that, it's just intellectual elitism. we should welcome and accommodate all discussions regarding coffee. but i guess, just to set this site apart from other forums, i think we should just put "special emphasis" on specialty coffee. rather than "force-feed" people about what we know, we should be able to educate with an attitude of patience and understanding. we can't expect people to immediately "grasp" a new concept. it takes time to effect change. it takes time to pass on an "idea" and make it grow. specialty coffee is a new idea here in our country, let's just be glad that kapihan.ph is in a position to be a tool for education and a resource for new and fresh ideas for the Philippine coffee industry.

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