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Philippines’ first virtual coffee expo explores the ins and outs of the industry

By Jose Oscar Magpusao

Junior Chamber International - Alabang, in collaboration with Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association (PYEA) and Collabox, kicked off the first virtual Coffee Expo in the Philippines on Friday.

The Coffee Expo Manila 2021 hosted a gathering of coffee industry experts, suppliers and coffee lovers for coffee enthusiasts and aspiring entrepreneurs to interact with on their highly interactive virtual platform available from September 3-5, 2021.

The 3-day event provided insights from 20 speakers from various backgrounds, all boasting years of experience in the industry, and urged participants to learn more about the craft and culture of coffee by listening to the insights of industry leaders, champion baristas, brand specialists, young entrepreneurs and many more readily available throughout the event via the plenary halls in the expo.

Speakers like Steve Benitez, Founder and CEO of Bo’s Coffee; Pacita “Chit” Juan, President of the Philippine Coffee Board; Joji Pantoja, CEO of Coffee for Peace; and Harris Conlin, 2019 National Champion Barista are among some of the industry veterans that came to share their knowledge and experience about the world of coffee.

Some of the topics discussed include the impact of the pandemic crisis on the coffee industry, business opportunities and information on, as well as the perks of, sustainable production, among others. Several speakers also taught the basics of brewing and other types of coffee preparation.

According to JC Martinez of Brewsco, coffee sales in 2020 amounted to P64.97 billion, with the share of fresh coffee sales decreasing to 3% from 5% in 2019 as sales of instant coffee went up to 97% from 95% the year prior.

He said the decline in fresh coffee revenues was due to the impact of the pandemic and the lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the virus, when restrictions made fresh coffee less accessible, dine-in services for coffee shops were halted, social gatherings limited and customers had lower incomes.

Despite the impact of lockdown, however, Martinez said there are still a lot of opportunities for the local fresh coffee industry moving forward.

“It boils to the question, why do we need to instantize brewed coffee, can we [do it] and what’s really the benefit of it… If you have an instantized brewed coffee, you can push your brand and reach the e-commerce space to sari-sari stores, you can have business beyond coffee shops” he said.

One example, he said, is to bring a new coffee value proposition by letting customers reach a sense of accomplishment and coffee shop-like sensory experience in the comforts of their home.

“Other things to consider to bring it out of your coffee shop is accessibility, this is an opportunity to make yourself accessible to most people. The next is affordable luxury where you introduce a new type of pricing for your products where you remove some of the operational expenses. [Lastly], you have a new sales channel [via] e-commerce,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chit Juan talked about “slow coffee” and the sustainability in ensuring there is fair trade, the entire practices, processing and scientific aspects are “good and clean,” as well as pricing is reasonable for both coffee farmers and customers.

She also emphasized the importance of building an authentic and lasting relationship with coffee farmers who supply the beans in keeping your networks intact

“You have to be there to help, you’re not just there during the buying season. What happened is people have defined relationships as knowing a farmer’s name but it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot of trust,” she noted.

Other discussions include Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia trainer John Paul Buhain’s walkthrough on how coffee travels from farm to your cup, Small Coffee Business Academy creator Faye Loraine’s tips on how to start a profitable café and many others all available in this expo.

What else?

The expo also showcased over 30 local and international exhibitors, presented as booths in their convention, and allowed participants to approach and interact with exhibitors in real time, providing them with a list of products and services offered, ranging from a diverse lineup of coffee products to equipment pertinent to starting a coffee business. all the necessary information and promotional material on the exhibitor.

Chatboxes and message boards are available in each booth for participants to directly engage with their services, allowing them to easily contact exhibitors, place orders, ask questions and leave their feedback.

Register to the Coffee Expo Manila 2021 now and dive in to the world and culture of coffee here before the weekend ends:

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