Filipino Coffee Culture Is about History and Urbanity

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From espresso machines tocurvedglass fridge displays, cafe kitchen equipment is in demand for a reason. More Filipinos are embracing the coffee culture that other countries, such as the United States, are highly known for.

According to a 2015 survey by Kantar, Filipinos are either regular or heavy coffee drinkers. That is, they buy two to three coffee products a week.

This beverage is also a staple in most Philippine homes. In the same report, 30 pesos for every 100 pesos of spending on groceries went toward coffee. That’s 28 pesos more compared to coffee expenditure in 2014.

What brings about the coffee culture in the Philippines? Let’s begin with its history.

The Long Affair of Filipinos with Coffee

The relationship between coffee and Filipinos began in the 1700s when a Franciscan monk planted the first-ever coffee tree in Batangas. They propagated the plant than soon covered acres of land.

During this time, the Philippines was trading with Spain. Suez Canal opened, and the market further grew. By the 19th century, the country was one of the leading exporters of coffee around the world.

When the century changed, the once-glorious industry hit a curveball.Itexperienced coffee rust, one of the severe coffee diseases. It took a toll on some of the biggest coffee growers in the country, especially Batangas. By the time they recovered, Brazil was already comfortably sitting in the first place.

The Philippines tried to reclaim such glory for decades until the Americans came, and they helped change the coffee landscape of the country.These people introduced not only new types of disease-resistant beans but also coffee mixes and sachets.

Currently, instant coffees top many Filipinos’ shopping lists along with instant noodles, according to Kantar. A report by Statista also shared how the total revenue for instant coffee, such as 3-in-1 sachets, already reached $5 billion in 2019. Until 2023, it should grow by almost 6% annually.

Globalization and Urban Culture

Globalization and urban culture also play a significant role in the sprouting of coffee shops or cafes around the country.

In 2017 alone, the Philippines saw more than 250 Starbucks branches brewing their specialty coffees. Other popular global coffee brands in the Philippines are Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Tim Horton’s, and Seattle’s Best.

While Filipino taste buds look for frappe or Java, they are also becoming acclimated to local coffee beans. These include those grown in the mountains ofSagadaor Benguet, as well as Batangas and Cavite, where coffee originated.

Meanwhile, many of those who frequent cafes are young Filipinos living in urban areas where you can find most of these shops. These individuals are either:

  • Young professionals
  • Generation Z, who are usually students

Both benefit from factors such as a higher disposable income in the country. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), an average Filipino family earns 267,000 pesos a year. Their expenses were only 215,000 annually. 

The future of coffee culture in the Philippines is bright. Despite fierce competition among international brands, there are plenty of opportunities for growth among locally grown ones. After all, Filipinos’ love of coffee is already part of tradition and history.

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