Tokyo, Japan – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) field office in Japan achieved a milestone for the Philippine coffee industry by spearheading a trilogy of events that introduced Philippine specialty coffee, specifically Barako and Pea berries to VIPs, industry players (large and small), coffee experts and the general beverage drinking public.
Commercial Counselor Dita Angara-Mathay and her team at DTI Tokyo organized these three events envisioned to help Philippine specialty coffee penetrate the Japanese market: the Independence Day Celebration hosted by the Philippine Embassy at Imperial Hotel last June 10, 2022, which gathered over 300 VIP guests from the Japanese government, business community and diplomatic corps; the Philippine Expo at the Ueno Park last June 11 and 12, 2022; and a Philippine Specialty Coffee Tasting Event at the Siazon Hall of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo last June 14, 2022.
The last event brought together about 41 industry players from key brand name industry players to coffee roasters, coffee shop owners, importers including an expert from a coffee academy and an entrepreneur to be hobbyist currently working at Starbucks.
Mathay said she got her inspiration from an article she read in Nikkei Asia entitled Coffee Revolution when she conceptualized and organized the DTI field office in Japan’s first ever Pour Over Philippine Specialty Coffee Tasting Event. She quoted Mr. Masahiro Kanno, former President of the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan, “Tea consumption has been the mainstream in Asia so far, but I think that the number of people who drink coffee will increase, as we have seen in Japan. Since Japan originally has a culture of drinking tea, we already have a custom of boiling water. I think it is easy to establish a culture of drinking sophisticated coffee, such as brewing pour-over coffee.”
“For the specialty coffee tasting activity, we wanted to focus on Barako from Southern Luzon and Benguet Peaberry Coffee from the Cordillera highlands in the North, and Davao del Sur Peaberry from Mount Apo in the South. These are rare and exotic coffee beans that we hope will satisfy the discriminating tastes of coffee drinkers on the lookout for specialty coffee. Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines and Cordillera in Benguet is described as the 8th wonder of the World. Both places are must visit tourist spots,” Mathay said. She added, “We want to push it in Japan, Asia’s largest coffee market as a niche gourmet product. We are confident a few Japanese coffee shops will feature it among their small-lot coffee lines”.
The Philippine Barako, considered to be a rare exotic coffee that has just come out from the brink of extinction until efforts were made to preserve it, is also known as the Philippine Liberica, a rare type of coffee bean that comprises only 2% of the world’s coffee production. On the back of growing global interest and awareness to revive and conserve rare coffee beans, the Philippine government, in partnership with the private sector, has actively been helping Filipino farmers and entrepreneurs promote their products in the global market. The Philippine Coffee Industry Roadmap plans to increase coffee production in the Philippines to attain par position with other coffee-producing countries.