Filipinos are known to be great consumers of coffee. While coffee is a global commodity, and Starbucks is a global phenomenon, the global culture surrounding coffee has eclipsed the fact that Filipinos hold a special place in their hearts for coffee.
If you've ever taken a trip to the provinces, you'll find that the early morning ritual is similar across the provinces, across the landscapes, and with different faces:
As the sun rises, the farmer with the life-weathered face picks up his tools, and makes his way to the fields. As the sun inches its way across the horizon, the farmer starts hacking at the weeds growing amongst his crops. After a while of this hard work, he brings his tools, starts towards a shed in the middle of the field, leans them on the wall, and goes inside the shed. Inside are meager stocks; things for refreshment throughout the day. Outside is a makeshift stove. He fires up the stove, heats water, and waits. When the water comes to a boil, he takes the brown makeshift sieve and pours the boiling water through it, and into a cup. Out comes a golden-black liquid, that marks the start of the day.
In another man's morning, the sun peeks through the kitchen windows. Ornate glass frames the sunbeams as they shine their way through, gently forcing the breaking darkness out of the way. He takes a stainless steel kettle and fills it with water. He fires up the gas stove, and waits for the water to boil. He finds a chair and opens yesterday's newspaper, as his wife bustles to make their breakfast. As the kettle whistles, he puts his paper down, scoops instant coffee, non-dairy creamer and muscovado sugar into his mug. He takes his mug, sets it on a side table beside his chair and goes back to reading yesterday's paper. In a while, his day in the provincial city will start.
Coffee marks the Filipino's daybreak. It also graces the Filipino's midafternoon snack. It may even find itself as a Filipino night owl's post-dinner treat. And for the modern-day Filipino BPO worker, coffee will find itself in his hands, whatever time of day: Pre-work, mid-shift, and post-work, so he can still work on his daytime tasks.
That is why the Philippine coffee industry has found more room to grow. Just when everyone thought that no one could break Nescafe's monopoly on coffee production, San Mig Coffee found a niche for itself. Then, Kopiko took the 3-in-one niche by storm with its delicious Kopiko Brown Coffee. Of late, people can now enjoy Brown Coffee from Nescafe, Great Taste (highly recommended), and the trailblazer, Kopiko. Of the 3-in-one brands that have taken the market by storm, these three have passed this coffee lover's discerning taste buds:
- Kopiko Brown Coffee
- Great Taste Brown Coffee
- Great Taste White Coffee
And while Nescafe still rules the market, San Mig Coffee and Cafe Puro rule these palate. But that's just me.
The burgeoning coffeeshop industry, the bustling instant coffee market, and the growing brewed coffee market is the tip of the iceberg in terms of clues to how the Filipino loves his coffee. Next time, this coffee lover will discuss how some traditional Filipino food shops have found their place in the sun -- or their market's hearts -- by serving great coffee.
This weekend marks Dinagyang in Iloilo City. If you're in Iloilo City during that time, try savoring a cup from the renowned Madge's in LaPaz Market, or Iloilo's own Coffeebreak. If you'd rather hang out in Smallville, try Yogu's unlimited brewed coffee for only Php 40. Kopi Roti is also in Smallville, and this Singaporean franchise serves one awesome cup of Kopi.