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The story of good coffee

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MANILA, Philippines - To know the story of coffee is as dark, rich, wild, and some might say, even erotic as the drink itself.

Chit Juan and her partners at Le Bistro Café believe that good coffee can be found right at home. Coffee beans come in four varieties — Robusta, Excelsa, Liberica, and Arabica — all of which are grown and cultivated in the country.

Filipinos are certified coffee lovers. How we are all connected to that single cup is still the best story yet. Philippine coffee is slowly getting back to its feet with the help of a few people who keep the local brew alive and within reach.

Le Bistro Cafés, together with the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., helps coffee farmers all around the country — from Sultan Kudarat, Bukidnon, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Oriental, Cavite, Bataan, to the Mountain Province, Benguet, Sagada, and Kalinga.

“We help the local farmers in their endeavors. We provide sustainable livelihood programs, technical assistance, and opportunities for growth in coffee farming. We also encourage them to have their own brands,” says Juan about the booming local efforts done to boost the industry.

Le Bistro Cafés promote locavorism, which means they make sure that its products are locally sourced, organic and natural.

Le Bistro Cafés coffees, except for decaf, are locally sourced. “Our coffees are sourced from farms from the different regions of the country. We train the farmers on how to care for their crops, how to pick the ripest coffee cherries, and how best to make a profitable living. From the farmer who grew the coffee to the man who roasted the beans — we have an emotional bond to it all,” says Juan.

A founding member of the Philippine Coffee Board, Juan started the advocacy of “Save the Barako” and is the author of three coffee books. In 2004, she also founded “Wild About Organic,” which promoted organic farming among coffee communities.

“Roasting where you are lessens carbon footprint. We get the coffee green from the farms. It’s dried to a certain moisture content that’s ready for roasting, then we roast it here in Manila because this is where our distribution is,” she says.

Le Bistro Cafés in NAIA Terminals 2 and 3 launched their local coffee roasted beans, starting with the Sultan Kudarat blend.

“We want our countrymen and our guests to know that we do have good quality coffee here in the country. People want to help the planet and their community, but they don’t know how and where to start. You have to start with yourself — drink locally-sourced coffee,” Juan adds.


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