Not all coffees are created equally, but they can all be made premium grade quality with improved cultural, harvest, storage, and processing practices. And that’s where coffee cupping or tasting comes in.
According to Jennifer Rimando of Sagada Ola’s farm, cupping in coffee is the process of assessing the quality of coffee before it reaches the market. By assessing the quality, growers can determine what practices need to be improved in terms of farm inputs, growing conditions, bean selection harvesting and processing, storage, and brewing. Rimando is one of the certified ‘Q graders’ invited to attend the Coffee Cupping Event of the Farms and Industry Encounters Through the Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) held in Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet.
The FIESTA, which had the theme, “Kinabaknang di Daga, Siya san Biag” (Wealth from the Land, Sustain Life) was organized and sponsored by the Highland Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development Consortium (HAARRDEC). Aside from coffee, it also promoted potato, strawberry, and sweetpotato.
With Rimando, other ‘Q graders’ who attended the event were Billy Ignacio of Equilibrium Intertrade Corporation and Susan Pablo of Mt. Kalugong EcoPark.
Ignacio delivered a short lecture on Coffee Cupping highlighting its importance to farmers, growers, and producers, emphasizing that with better and improved practices, coffee can have better quality in terms of aroma, flavor, and other attributes.
Currently, farmers do not see the relevance of coffee cupping. Prof. Val Macanes of the Benguet State University (BSU) Institute of Highland Farming Systems and Agroforestry explained that “like local farmers, he thought that all coffee varieties taste the same and there is nothing to be gained from coffee cupping.” But he later realized that, “coffee beans are like sponges, affected by their environment and surroundings. They take in both the good and the bad things in their surrounding and it would reflect on the taste. And cupping can help determine what needs to be improved.”
Participants in the Coffee Cupping Event include the La Trinidad Arabica Coffee Producers Association (LATACPA), Sagada Arabica Coffee Growers and Processors Organization (SACGPO), Tuba Benguet Coffee Growers Association, Inc. (TUBENGCOGA), Bird Club, Benguet State University, Magsasaka Siyentista-Coffee Growers, and other coffee enthusiasts.
As conceptualized by DOST-PCAARRD, FIESTA aims to show the complete sphere of research and development as it treats with equal importance the whole agricultural value chain from production to processing to technology mainstreaming.
Through FIESTA, PCAARRD and its partners gather the various players in agriculture, aquatic and natural resources (AANR) S&T, primarily the technology generators, farmers, and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to showcase regional AANR technologies, innovations, products, and services; assist in the diffusion of technologies for better farming opportunities; and provide a true encounter of various research and development beneficiaries to maximize the benefits of particular products and commodities.