Care for a cup of coffee?
As more and more Filipinos are born, the demand for coffee also increases. Filipinos cannot do away with coffee and drinking coffee is a favorite pastime and an engaging social activity. Coffee shop nowadays is a thriving business and for coffee lovers no coffee can taste good without sending a sweet aroma to the nostrils. Aside from this, many people could not start their day without a cup of coffee to perk up their morning. That’s why Francisco Aranda “Frank” to friends and relatives invested in coffee production because coffee will never lose its market.
Determined to have a coffee plantation, Mang Frank settled in Sorsogon City in 1984. He started from scratch. He is popular among the Sorsogueños as the peddler of vinegar and soy sauce. Daily he would roam around the city carrying bottles of vinegar and soy sauce on his shoulder. His industry and perseverance paid off. He was able to buy five hectares farmland in Bgy. Cabid-an Sorsogon City.
How he started-
With the help of his children, Mang Frank cleared the area and started to make a layout. He brought a sack of coffee berries from their farm in Batangas and produced his own seedlings. “Producing seedlings before quite tedious” says Mang Frank. You have to prepare a raised seedbed because there were no plastic bags for use in propagation. He painstakingly planted the berries and was able to produce the seedlings needed for his farm. then removed the pulp by hand and soaked the beans for 24 hours to remove the mucilage. He removed the floaters as these are not good ones. He prepared a germination bed with 1 meter width and of convenient length. He sow the seeds at ¾ inch deep and covered with fine soil. After 7 to 8 months he was able to produce thousands of seedlings.
“Kapeng barako”or Liberica is well adopted in Sorsogon” says Mang Frank. The berries are plump, big and rounded. It is known for its distinct taste, aroma and flavor. It is tolerant to drought and could be grown in a wider type of soil.
Transplanting of seedling was done during the onset of the rainy season. He chose coffee seedlings with six pairs of leaves. He followed the 3 x 3 meters distance of planting. Mang Frank explains that he has to dig bigger and wider holes to accommodate the ball of soil attached to the seedlings to keep the roots intact. He also added compost and chicken manure. After a year he applied complete fertilizer (14-14-14) at 250 grams per tree.
Regular pruning is one technology he adopted. This is to ensure that the trees are shorter for easy harvesting and to facilitate other farm operations. Likewise, pruning shoots helps produce more branches, more flowers and berries. It also promotes better light penetration and aeration.
With a total of 4,500 trees he is now harvesting berries every 8 months. In Sorsogon harvest starts in October until March. Coffee is picked / harvested individually to avoid presence of pedicels. To maintain quality coffee, berries must be matured. Oftentimes it is colored red. He harvests an average of 147 sacks of coffee berries. He is happy because he is now providing jobs to his neighbors especially during harvest. Coffee is dried for 8 to 9 days in concrete drying pavement. The secret to quality coffee is the roasting process. Roasting is the process of applying heat to transform the chemical and physical properties of coffee beans into roasted coffee products. The right amount of heat, the right timing in a uniform manner are required to achieve the desired flavor from the beans. He said that coffee roasting involves proper heat application, and the common problems encountered include uneven distribution of heat inside the roasting chamber and the lack of insulating materials which results to excessive heat loss. Poorly roasted beans would yield poor tasting coffee drink. With the absence of hauler and roasting equipment Mang Frank has to bring dried coffee beans to Lipa City in Batangas to have the outermost cover removed and then roasted. He has to pay P8 per kilo for de-hauling and Ps 9 per kilo for roasting. Likewise, an added cost is incurred for transportation of the coffee berries to Batangas then back to Sorsogon.
Mang Frank emphasized that pricing depends on the quality of the beans and the variety. But coffee always commands a good price in the market. A sack of roasted coffee costs Ps 8,900. Mang Frank sells milled coffee at Ps 260 per kilo.With the help of the Department of Trade and Industry he already has his brand name “Uncle Franks roasted coffee”. His packaging was improved and he now sells coffee in 250 grams, 500 grams, and 1 kilogram packaging.
Mang Frank has a bit of advice to those who want to venture into coffee production: “Make sure that you get good quality product to make it big in business. Once you hit the market, make sure it attracts buyers”. That is why during exhibits, he displays his products and even provided free taste to visitors.
He readily offers his area for techno demo because he wants to learn new technologies and techniques. In return he also teaches his fellow coffee growers of the techniques he learned. He also hosted field days for them to see the crop stand and the effects or the impact of the technologies adopted.
As president of the Para Café’ kan Sorsogon City Association, Mang Frank shares his technologies to its members so that they too could produce quality coffee. They envisioned to place Sorsogon in the map of those leading provinces producing coffee in the country. The group is determined to realize their vision by producing coffee not only for its aroma and taste but as source of livelihood for the Sorsogueños.
When all these things happen, a brighter future will surely await the coffee growers of Sorsogon and no one will no longer say no to coffee growing. As Mang Frank’s slogan goes “May pera sa kape….tanim na!”.