Philippines Coffee Overview

Philippines has a long history of coffee production of many different varieties; Arabica, Robusta and Liberica.

Coffee production in the Philippines began as early as 1740 when the Spanish introduced coffee in the islands. It was once a major industry in the Philippines, which 200 years ago was the fourth largest coffee-producing on earth.

As of 2014, the Philippines produces 25,000 metric tons of coffee and is ranked 110th in terms of output. However local demand for coffee is high with 100,000 metric tons of coffee consumed in the country per year. The Philippines is one of the few countries that produce the four main viable coffee varieties; Arabica, Liberica (Barako), Excelsa and Robusta. 90 percent of coffee produced in the country is Robusta

There has been efforts to revitalize the coffee industry, but most coffee grown in the Philippines is consumed in the Philippines! There is little available for export. While general quality of taste is basic due to the species, cultivars and moderate altitudes, I have tasted some old arabica varieties that are being rejuvenated in the Philippines and planted at good altitudes. They are quite nice, a clean mild cup with delicate sweetness

History or Myth?

Most say that coffee planting was introduced in the Philippines as early as 1740, when a Franciscan friar planted the first coffee tree in Lipa, Batangas. Coffee introduced from the Philippines came from Mexico. Production was later promoted by Augustinian friars Elias Nebreda and Benito Varas in other parts of Batangas such as Ibaan, Lemery, San Jose, Taal, and Tanauan. Coffee plantations became part of the foundation of Batangas’ economy and Lipa was later labeled as the coffee capital of the Philippines.

Growth in the 19th century

Following the aftermath of the American Civil War, in the 1865, there was a sudden increase of demand for Philippine coffee in the United States since it became cheaper importing coffee from the Philippines than importing coffee from Brazil. Barako from Batangas was shipped from Manila to San Francisco. Half of the Philippines’ coffee export in that year were shipped to San Francisco. Coffee also began to be exported to Europe following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1876, coffee was introduced in the town of Amadeo in neighboring Cavite and the province began producing coffee. However, Lipa remained as the main producer of coffee in the Philippines and Batangas barako cost five times as much as Java beans. In 1880, the Philippines was the fourth largest exporter of coffee beans. Coffee production in competitor regions of Brazil, Africa and Java declined when coffee rust plagued the regions and from 1887 to 1889, the Philippines was the only source of coffee in the world.

Decline in the 1880s-1890s: In 1889, coffee production in the country saw a great decline following the introduction of coffee rust in the country and increased incidence of insect infestation. These elements virtually destroyed all coffee trees in Batangas. By 1891, coffee production in the country was reduced to 1/6 of its total production two years earlier. By this period, Brazil has regained its position as a major coffee producer. Surviving coffee seedlings were transferred to Cavite as many farmers in Batangas shifted to growing other crops.

Philippine Coffee Post-World War II

During the 1950s, the Philippine government, with assistance from Americans, introduced a variety of coffee to the country which is more resistant. Instant coffee began to be produced in commercial quantities which resulted to the increase of demand for coffee. Many farmers began shifting back to growing coffee in the 1960s. Importation of coffee were momentarily stopped due to a surplus in the world market due to sudden proliferation of coffee farms. In 1980, the Philippines became a member of the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

Coffee in the 21st century

The bean belt and the top 20 coffee producing countries in 2011 according to FAOSTAT which includes the Philippines.

Demand for coffee experienced growth. In 2002, the yearly coffee consumption of the Philippines was 75,000 metric tons. This figure grew to 170,000 metric tons annually by 2018. As of the same year, the Philippines began to import coffee due to low coffee production at only 35,000 metric tons annually. It imports about 75,000-100,000 metric tons of dried coffee beans amounting ₱7-10 billion from Vietnam and Indonesia according to the Department of Agriculture.

By 2016, according to PhilMech, an agency under DA, Mindanao is the leader of local production of dried coffee beans. Sultan Kudarat is the province that produces the most coffee in the island. Coffee production in traditional cultivation areas such as the Cordillera and Calabarzon experienced a decline due to strong typhoons which battered the region in the same year.


Photos are credited to Zee Zemora and to Leyenes Ordenes via email discussions. Thank you! Much of the text is from Wikipedia as we don’t have a lot of first-hand experience sourcing coffee here, yet want to make sure we are including this important origin.