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Philippine Coffee Roasting Competition awards best roasters in the country

In recognition of the significant contributions made by Filipino roasters to the coffee industry, the Filipino Coffee Institute (FCI) hosted the inaugural Philippine Coffee Roasting Competition, which took place from October 18–21, 2023, at the Xavier Estates Sports and Country Club in Cagayan de Oro City.

Coffee roasters from all corners of the country participated in the event, using it as a platform to demonstrate their roasting expertise, share knowledge, and foster collaboration within the industry.

The event also served as a platform to highlight local coffee farmers and promote their produce while forging connections between them, among various coffee roasters, and other stakeholders who were present at the roasting competition.

Jerry Acebes Cabalce, the founder and president of FCI, said that coffee roasting often takes a backseat in the coffee industry, hoping that through this competition, he will be able to foster a “healthy competition” and collaboration to create a platform where roasters can converge and exchange ideas within the coffee industry.

"Roasting is an integral part of the coffee industry. When we introduced the roasters and initiated the competition, they were given the chance to enhance their skills. With improved skills, we can also expect to have better-tasting coffee. This provides us with more opportunities to improve the roasting of Philippine coffee. Ultimately, this will enhance the marketing of Philippine coffee,” said Cabalce. 

The competition engaged the expertise of internationally certified coffee judges that included Reyner Herbert, Shaun Ong, Anuwat Kobnampetch, and Edward Choo. Their collective knowledge and experience greatly enriched the judging process.

The roasting competition was divided into two distinct categories: the roasting of single-origin beans and the blends. This structure allowed for a comprehensive showcase of the competitors' skills and creativity.

The event celebrated the talents of six winners: Mary Jane Cua, who won first place, followed by Arnel Francisco Cadeliña in second place, and Alexander Ray Sumania in third. The fourth to sixth places were respectively clinched by Salvador Mijares, Denis Cocoba, and Neil Barria.

“I saw the roasting competition as an opportunity to challenge my technical skills and gauge my growth since I started my roasting journey. Winning 1st place was the icing on the cake, validating that I’m heading in the right direction with my roasting,” said Cua, the Head Coffee Roaster and Production Manager for Coffee Central Philippines.

Cua enjoyed the competition, relishing the chance to meet and compete with both new and veteran roasters. The healthy competitive environment spurred everyone to excel. Cua appreciated the promotion of local coffees in both single-origin and blend roast. 

Despite the challenges in sourcing, Cua found satisfaction in roasting and crafting a blend using washed, anaerobic honey, and anaerobic natural processed coffees, having meticulously planned and envisioned the process from start to finish.

Cua entered the competition without expectations, driven by a strong desire to test her roasting skills. The competition boosted Cua's confidence in her craft, highlighting how coffee can inspire unimaginable achievements. 

The satisfaction derived from roasting, like any craft, grew as they progressed and mastered it. Cua felt blessed for the support they received from their spouse and friends. Cua's advice to fellow coffee professionals is to step out of their comfort zones, join competitions, push boundaries, learn from peers, and thereby enhance their professional growth.

In the Hoop Brewing competition, which was also part of the event, John Nangkil emerged as the champion, followed by Dan Christopher Timtim in second place and Ritchie Sabio, who finished in third place.

“I was pleasantly surprised to win the Hoop brewing competition, considering it was my first time using this brewer. Competing alongside skilled brewers taught me valuable knowledge and wisdom,” said Nangkil of

Representatives from the Soccsksargen region (Region 12), Cadeliña and Timtim, were overjoyed when they both secured second place in the roasting and brewing competitions.

“Taking part in the first-ever Filipino coffee roasting competition allows me to evaluate my current knowledge and skills, but more importantly, it fosters significant skill growth. The people I met, the connections we forged, the relationships we created, along with the wisdom and experience I gained, become enduring and priceless resources,” said Cadeliña, the owner of Tay Roming Coffee Roasters.

"I became even more passionate and committed to roasting and brewing because of the arduous work and effort needed to compete. We had the opportunity to speak with the judges after the competition, which made it a fantastic and exceptional experience,” said Timtim, the owner of Kape Padayon. 

“Their observations and compliments provided insightful information that helps us develop our skills. It was tough because we used unfamiliar roasting equipment and a newly introduced brewing vessel in our country. We learned from this competition how to adapt quickly and still produce excellent results,” he added. 

Cabalce further stated that FCI is committed to assisting and supporting those who are keen to explore opportunities in the coffee industry. They are ready to share their knowledge and network, all to enhance the industry as a whole.

"Let's support Philippine coffee. Because we have our coffee,” he said.

The Philippine Coffee Roasting Competition was also facilitated by the Filipino Coffee Competitions. They are committed to highlighting and enhancing the Philippines' rich coffee heritage through well-organized contests. Their goal is to cultivate excellence in the local coffee community, celebrate the country's diverse coffee varieties, empower local coffee producers, and foster a vibrant coffee culture that respects our heritage and inspires future generations.

The next Philippine Coffee Roasting Competition will be in April 2024 in Cagayan de Oro City. (Genory Vanz Alfasain/Soccsksargen Coffee Council)

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Harlem Jude Ferolino

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