Meet Mr. Good Morning
MANILA, Philippines – The smell of coffee in the morning – or any time of the day – keeps people going.
The steam rising from the cup, the warmth that spreads through your fingers, and the taste when you finally take that first sip – for diehard coffee lovers, drinking it makes one feel like a whole new person.
Coffee is our go-to drink when we need an extra jolt of energy or a taste of comfort in the middle of a hectic day. Some even crave a cup as dessert after a full meal.
But have you ever thought about how your coffee ended up in your cup? Have you ever wondered who makes the coffee that you love so much?
The man who makes our coffee
Mang Felix Angcao, 63, is a coffee farmer from Amadeo, Cavite.
He worked as an engineer in Saudi for many years. Then one day, he lost his hearing on his right ear and suffered a condition similar to vertigo, which prompted him to go back to the Philippines.
He found a different trade, and today, he is a proud coffee farmer in Cavite. He gets help from his wife, Juliet, who was also an overseas worker back in the day.
Mang Felix said, “Wala na kaming trabaho, saan na kami aasa [kung hindi] sa lupa?” (We don’t have jobs anymore. What else can we depend on except the land?)
Farming has become Mang Felix and Juliet’s source of income and way of life. The couple intercrops coffee with bananas and a variety of vegetables. What they earn from coffee is set aside for their savings.
The money from their harvests support their everyday needs. Thanks to coffee, Mang Felix and Juliet were able to put their two children through school. Their son is now a computer engineer and their daughter is a registered nurse.
Mang Felix is just one of many coffee farmers who need all the help they can get to keep the Robusta coffee industry alive. This is where the Nescafé Plan comes in.
Helping farmers thrive
The Nescafé Plan was created to help coffee farmers thrive by increasing their green coffee yield and improving its quality. The program helps educate farmers on new technologies and initiatives to help them get the most out of their harvest and earn more.
Through the program, Mang Felix purchased high quality, high yielding plantlets at cost price and good quality planting material so that he can get more yield.
Technicians visited the farm of Mang Felix and showed him how to improve his farming techniques. They then encouraged him to go to Nestlé’s Silang, Cavite buying station near his farm where he could sell his coffee. They also taught him how to assess the quality of his harvest so that he can get paid a higher price for better beans.
Nestlé’s agronomists also taught Mang Felix the latest technology and standards for coffee farming, such as how to comply with Nescafé Better Farming Practices and 4C or the Common Code for the Coffee Community. This code is a sustainability standard that guides farmers to develop sustainable practices. They also shared lessons about proper use of fertilizer, farmer safety, and labor rights, composting, PPE, water conservation, reforestation, integrated pest management, solid waste management and many more. Through the Nescafé Plan, Mang Felix learned that if farmers are able to become 4C verified, they get an incentive of P1.50/kilo for their 4C-verified beans.
“Ngayon, kami ay nagigising na,” Felix said. (We have been awakened). Juliet added that Felix has taken the role of influencing other farmers and passing on the information and knowledge to the community.
“Iniisip niya di lang para sa amin, [but also] for the community,” Juliet said. (He looks out not just for us, but for the community.)
In the last 4 years, the Plan has helped distribute 10.5 million plantlets and trained over 30,000 farmers in the process. In Mang Felix’ case, it was more than just a lesson to improve his source of income. It empowered him to become a better person for others.
A surprise visit
Recently, Mang Felix had a special visitor – a young celebrity who wanted to meet the man responsible for growing the beans that made his favorite coffee.
In his visit to Mang Felix’s farm, Daniel Padilla experienced first-hand how coffee farmers would spend their day.
Mang Felix showed Daniel how he grew and harvested coffee. He said that coffee farming has become a big part of their lives. He also asked Daniel where Kathryn Bernardo was.
With Mang Felix’s help, Daniel planted a coffee tree, picked ripe cherries, and learned how to dry the beans. He even got to try carrying a basket of beans and inspecting the jute sacks where the coffee is stored. It wasn’t the full extent of what farmers go through every day, but Daniel was still able to appreciate the work, sweat, and love that they put into growing coffee.
The simple comforts that we enjoy every day are borne from the hard work and passion of others. Have you shown appreciation for those who provide your source of happiness? Next time you prepare your cup, don’t forget to thank coffee farmers like Mang Felix for making your mornings better. – Rappler.com