It's that time of the year again when everyone reflects about the highs and the lows of the twelve months that just flew by. Mostly, 2017 has been kind to us but there were also some brick walls that we had to climb over. Here are three thoughts and observations from this year:

1. Next-Gen Coffee Professionals

Looking at the local landscape with several coffee businesses opening up, everyone had to step up as well as develop talent to remain competitive. Companies had to structure a clear and defined career path for baristas, else this would lead to stagnation or higher churn rates. Local wages for baristas will not be able to compete with the likes of the Middle East or Singapore, thus making it imperative for business owners to think creatively to retain high performers. The next generation of coffee professionals are hungry and ambitious and it is up to leadership to pave the way for them. Success is succession.

2. Locally-Grown Coffee

The Philippines has always been proud of the coffee that it has produced and rightly so. Though local coffees have not made it to our inventory, we have seen and tasted the quality improve over the past four years. Efforts are being made in the public and private sectors, though fragmented. Filipino coffees are being recognized overseas and awards are being given but we think it has yet to reach that tipping point. Looking at what has happened in the region with coffees from Chiang Mai, Yunnan and Myanmar, we continue to wonder what is needed for that breakthrough. There will always be political challenges and economic dilemmas. With are not experts in this field and with a formula so complicated, national pride can only get us so far.

3. Slow and Steady Rise of Quality

A jump in quality does not happen overnight and that is something we have to constantly remind ourselves. One of our coffee peers did mention that specialty coffee has passed its cool/trendy phase and it's now slowly finding its bearings within the developing landscape of the Philippines. We agree. It is encouraging to see better coffee equipment in local chains and mainstream establishments like hotels and flagship restaurants. Coffee drinkers are now comparing local roasts with international counterparts. Conversations between hospitality peers have gone beyond 'art' and now focus on extraction, origin and operational requirements. Quality is indeed a group effort and we all just need to find our place to be able to effectively contribute in our common goal.

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Thank you to everyone who made 2017 possible. We are truly grateful and we cannot wait to show you what's in store next year. Coffee cheers!

December 31, 2017 by Yardstick Admin