Coffee is becoming increasingly popular in the Philippines, both as a beverage and as revitalized agricultural industry. Here are some fun facts about the coffee industry, culture and traditions of the Philippines.
- Coffee is strongly associated with family and traditional holiday celebrations, such as Christmas, a time when many people enjoy coffee with friends and family after mass services during the many festive celebrations leading up to Christmas Day.
- Coffee is often a popular addition to so-called “balikbayan boxes”, which are care packages that are often sent home by family members working overseas. Such boxes usually contain sought-after items such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and magazines.
- The growth and export of coffee beans was once a major industry in the Philippines, which 200 years ago was the fourth-largest coffee producing nation in the world.
- The coffee growing industry was struck by a bout of fungus known as “coffee rust”, which spread through much of Africa and Asia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, devastating the industry in the Philippines in around 1889, and forcing many farmers to switch to other crops.
- The Philippines now has a comparatively small coffee industry, but efforts are being made to revive it, as coffee popularity and consumption continue to rise.
- The Philippines is believed to be one of the few places that can grow all four primary coffee bean varieties — namely Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa.
- One particular type of Liberica coffee is known in the Philippines as Kape Barako (in English, Barako coffee), and is said to take its name from the Tagalog word for wild boar — because apparently the animals are fond of snacking on the plant’s leaves and berries.
- In a 2012 report by the Philippine Coffee Board, it was noted that the Philippines was producing an estimated 30,000 metric tons of coffee a year, up from 23,000 metric tons just three years earlier.