Sagada coffee wins international award in Paris

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Goad Sibayan probably has one of the least admired jobs, something to do with picking poop.

Sibayan had been picking the poop of wild civet cats in Sagada which happened to have eaten coffee berries, and collects them at Bana’s Café at the Poblacion.

The coffee farmer and the Coffee Heritage Project recently gained international recognition when their collaboration on producing heirloom coffee received an award from the Agency for the Valorization of Agricultural Products (AVPA), a non-governmental and non-profit organization that seeks to improve the quality of agricultural products amid the pressure of mass marketing.

AWARD. Bana's Coffee's Medaille Gourmet in the International Contest of Coffees Roasted in their Countries of Origin organized by the Agency for the Valorization of Agricultural Products (AVPA).

Photo courtesy of SGD Coffee

In late June, Bana’s Coffee received the Medaille Gourmet (Gourmet Medal) in the International Contest of Coffees Roasted in their Countries of Origin organized by the AVPA. Philippine Consul Rapunzel Acop received the medal on behalf of Sibayan and partners Butch Acop and Rich Watanabe at awarding ceremonies at the Peru Embassy in Paris.

Watanabe said in a message to Rappler that their winning coffee beans "are quality-focused farmed heirloom coffees that the Coffee Heritage Project helped plant and grow in Mr Goad Sibayan's smallholder lot."

"This project also focuses on developing enviromentally-sustainable and socially-responsible approaches to Philippine coffee farming," he said.

COLLABORATION. Goad Sibayan (left) and Rich Watanabe (right) at Bana's Coffee roasting facility in Sagada, Mountain Province.

Photo courtesy of SGD Coffee

Quality control

Sibayan said that he is more of a poop hunter, buying from Sagada farmers who happened to chance upon the droppings of civet cats in the wild. His buying station is at Bana’s Café.

When he is able to collect a sack, he used to bring them to Bote Central which sells the civet coffee poo under Café Alamid. He said that he had been trading in this expensive poo since it was only worth P5,000 per kilo many years ago. Now, a kilo goes for P24,000.

But with the tourism surge in Sagada,  the civet coffee in the café had become a sensation, making Bana’s Café as the brand of civet coffee.

Of course, to reach this almost gold standard, he had to make sure that the civet poo was really collected from the wild.

“I have to make sure of their purity,” he said.  

Sibayan said that he attended several workshops to ascertain that the coffee beans, for example, was not just dropped on or mixed into fresh civet poo or that it was not goat dung.

A no-no is coffee poo from civet cats that were caged and fed with coffee berries, as is the case with some of the kape luwak or civet coffee from Indonesia.

“I have to visit my sources to make sure and teach them how to properly collect,” Sibayan said.

“The purer it is, the higher the price” is the mantra for Café Alamid, he said.

In a coffee season (from November to April), Sibayan usually collects about 300 kilos. During the period, Sibayan often transports the valuable cargo almost every week.

He said that central to the civet coffee harvest is the preservation of civet cats in their natural habitat.

The civet cat was mostly hunted in the past for their musk glands which were used as perfume by the Spaniards of old.

“We have to teach the farmers that the civet cat is more valuable alive and free. They contribute to the biodiversity,” Sibayan said. –