Region: Sitio Kisbong, Atok, Benguet
ROASTING WEDNESDAYS WHILE SUPPLIES LAST
A vibrant coffee, with tropical fruit flavors of pineapple, mango and brown sugar; vanilla, Hazelnut, distinctly sweet.
If you haven't yet had an excellent coffee - or any coffee - from the Philippines, start here. Quality Arabica coffee from the region had been difficult to come by until recently because 90% of the country's production is Robusta, and most of it is locally consumed. Yet the third wave cafe movement has been growing rapidly over the past 5 years, as has their export of quality Arabica beans.
Our friends at Kalsada in the Philippines have been working alongside growers to refine their coffees and bring them to the world stage. Our founder and green buyer Miguel first met the team from the then nascant Kalsada Coffee in Manila in 2013.
Shortly there after, due to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the social entrepreneurs at Kalsada Coffee were were able to raise $15,000 to set up a small wet-mill at Sitio Belis in Benguet, on the Philippines northern most island -Luzon. There a group of 50 families bring their coffee cherry for centralized processing.
Kalsada has sense set up mills in other communities around Benguet, along with one in Pigtauranan, Bukidon on the Philippines southern most island of Mindanao.
Each year we have featured a different Arabica from Kalsada. Yellow Honey, Natural, and Anaerobic Washed lots from Sitio Belis and Sitio Naguay communities in the past. This year it was their elegant Sitio Kisbong washed lot that stood out on the cupping table.
Sitio Kisbong is a community in Atok, Benguet on Luzon Island, a few hours drive north from the Capital of Manila. There are 33 smallholder growers in this area at 1400-1700m growing a mix of Red Bourbon, Typica, and San Ramon varieties.
In 2014, among Kalsada’s first purchases of coffee was from the small community of Sitio Kisbong in Atok, Benguet. Farmers processed coffees from their own backyards with their hand-cranked pulpers and dried them bilao, or winning baskets, on top of their roofs. Despite growing coffee for decades, most farmers regarded it as a secondary crop and only applied traditional ways of processing. Coffee quality was inconsistent, and production was low. On average, each farmer can only produce 35kgs to 50kgs of coffee.
In partnership with Bo’s coffee, a Philippine coffee house chain, Kalsada established a small community washing station in Sitio Kisbong in 2019.
For the washed process, farmers bring fresh picked cherries to the mill every day. These coffees go through wet fermentation for 36-48 hours before the mucilage is washed and the coffees in parchment are dried on raised beds. The coffees are then kept in grainpro bags and rest for 4-6 weeks before they’re hulled and hand sorted.