Why coffee brands are pushing sustainability and lokal in this pandemic

Published October 1, 2020, 6:27 AM

by John Legaspi

In the web series hosted by the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, Pacita Juan, co-chair and president of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., shared her knowledge of coffee and how it was associated with the country. According to her timeline, the Philippines was first introduced to coffee in 1740, thanks to a Spanish Franciscan monk who brought it to Lipa, Batangas. In 1880, the country became the fourth largest coffee exporter, but that ended in 1889 due to coffee rust. The ’50s was when we saw the rise of instant coffee. 

She pointed out that our history was rich with coffee because of our colonizers. Both the Spaniards and the Americans preferred coffee over tea. But our current desire for coffee reached new heights when we adopted a 24/7 lifestyle, when the BPO industry dominated the country. The good thing is that the Philippines is in what is called the coffee belt—areas of the planet where the soil and temperature are just right to cultivatea coffee plant—to help answer Filipinos’ growing demand for more cups.

While many Filipinos still sip a hot cup of coffee every morning, this doesn’t mean that the industry has been spared from the pandemic’s repercussions.

“The supply chain has been shaken,” Pacita tells Agriculure.com. “We recently had a consultative meeting with major Philippine roasters and all of them had suffered a drop of about 80 percent in demand from all sectors—HoReCa (hotel, restaurant, and cafe), as well as supermarkets and groceries.”

To make the coffee scene lively again, brands have bravely taken new actions to reintroduce their products while in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis.

REIMAGING FOR INSPIRATION

For more than a decade, locally grown coffee has been at the center of Kick-Start Coffee. Led by its founder Mike Asuncion, the company is not a stranger to a crisis. In fact, it was born out of one.

“I started the brand at a turning point in my life where I pivoted careers after the 2008 financial crisis,” Asuncion says. “Much like today’s global pandemic shifted people’s plans, the world economic changes at that time rocked my world. I was an investment banker with Lehman Brothers abroad and came home to Manila to become a start-up coffee entrepreneur.”

Growing up in a family that made a living out of coffee, Mike wants to channel the positive impact coffee has on drinkers at home, reflecting the need among Filipinos to focus on sustainable partners in a time of constant adversity. 

With that, the brand comes up with a broader coffee variety for the modern Filipino. Also,the brand’s new design features the Philippine flag, with positive messages that mirror the company’s resiliency and dedication to better, positive days. 

“It reflects the evolution of the brand and its entrepreneurial journey milestones,” Mike says. “We hired a firm from San Francisco to preserve the essence of the original design, while modernizing it with a global appeal to prepare Kick-Start Coffee for new markets abroad. I hope our story can serve as inspiration to Filipinos who are currently evaluating how to pivot in the new normal.”

Facebook and Instagram: @KickStartCoffee

The Philippines is in what is called the coffee belt, areas of the planet where the soil and temperature are just right to cultivate a coffee plant.

OPENING DOORS FOR SUSTAINABILITY

At a time when many chefs, food entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs are in deep doubts and worries about their physical stores, Nepresso took a bold step by opening a new boutique in Metro Manila. The international coffee chain brings its sustainability initiative to its new location at The Podium, featuring the upcycled works and designs of Universal Design Studio.

“From our beginnings more than 30 years ago, Nespresso has revolutionized the way millions of people enjoy their coffee every day. It is in our boutique, such as this one at The Podium, where you can experience what it is all about,” says regional business development manager Fabio De Gregorio. “The immersive experience provides deeper learning and coffee exploration to store visitors. Its specific elements and furniture stand to communicate the brand’s deep commitment to environmental conservation and adherence to circular economy.”

Apart from its eco-friendly-themed atmosphere, the new boutique aims to bring back the joy of dining out and having coffee outside to its Filipino customers. 

“Every innovation (as well as) sustainability solution is a means to a greater end: to benefit the earth, improve lives in the community we belong to, and encourage others to do the same,” says Patrick Pesengco, managing director of Novateur Coffee Concepts.

Nespress Boutique at The Podium is located at Level 2.  For opening hours, visit www.nespresso.ph

 
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