Last January, the Philippine Coffee Board Inc.(PCBI), with the cooperation of Peace and Equity Foundation and Landbank of the Philippines, trekked to Benguet to kick off its 2015 PICK RED campaign.
Designed to simply show farmers the importance of waiting for coffee fruits to ripen for better coffee quality (and price), PICK RED is an easy “slogan”, imperative and campaign to remind farmers to wait for coffee cherries to turn red before picking them.
After picking red ripe cherries, farmers are taught about processing the coffee using the washed method or the natural method of drying it out to a desired moisture content.
Next, coffee farmers are taught to sort and separate special beans like peaberries (an aberration that is about 5% of every harvest) which are whole coffee beans that get special premium in price.
And of course, coffee beans are dried on raised drying beds to ensure its cleanliness and avoid foreign matter getting mixed into the raw green coffee beans.
The process may seem simple to a reader, but back at the farm level, farmers are hard-pressed to tell all their co-farmers to follow these harvesting guidelines. This, coffee beans are not uniform in quality and may not get the optimum buying price at the local markets.
In teaching farmers the whole value chain of coffee, PCBI with the cooperation of other NGOs like the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) also hold cupping demonstrations to let the farmer taste his coffee harvest.
It is only in illustrating the whole value chain that the farmer is convinced on why he must first pick red, process the coffee well and then dry it to a moisture level that is acceptable to roasters and specialty coffee purveyors.