Farmer Upholds Reputation Of Family For Quality Coffee
Unlike other coffee farmers Jolan Lamoste painstakingly sorts sacks of first pick green coffee beans (GCB) for defects before selling them to Nestlé, the makers of Nescafe. Lamoste has a good reputation to protect – his father was a longtime supplier of Nestlé. He not only inherited his parents’ livelihood but also their sense of pride in delivering the best produce their lands can yield.
Lamoste, who hails from Laac, Compostela Valley, inherited the coffee growing business from his parents, Maximo and Gina. His parents, in fact, were given the honor of becoming ceremonial coffee farmer ambassadors in 2006, when the Nestlé Satellite Buying Station in Davao City celebrated its 20th anniversary.
After 20 years of coffee farming and trading, Lamoste knows there is no shortcut to good, quality coffee. He always resists the temptation to quickly sell his dried and dehulled first harvest coffee to Nestlé Satellite Buying Station in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.
Lamoste makes sure that any GCBs that are below quality standards are sorted out first. He’s even willing to sacrifice immediate financial gain for the long-term benefit of preserving his family’s reputation for selling only the best harvest. Even though it has been seven months since Lamoste’s last paycheck, and his family needs the money, he is willing to wait until the damaged, immature and other substandard beans are all removed.
This morning, Jolan is helped no less than by his mother, Gina.
Through a homemade plastic screen and wood frame contraption, they filter out the small broken and immature beans out of the good ones. Their experienced hands also pick out the rest of the debris – pebbles, corn grains, rice, etc.
These morning sorting activities not only ensure that the Lamoste family only offers the highest quality beans to Nestlé—they are also moments that never fail to nurture and strengthen the bond between mother and son, as well as the bond between the Lamoste family and the land that sustains their coffee farm.
With another sorter to help him, Lamoste can go through one to two sacks of GCBs a day. For his first pick delivery, he and three other sorters spent two weeks cleaning up his harvest of coffee beans and that of neighboring farmers. It’s back-breaking hard work and at the same time, truly a labor of love – all for the sake of selling the best quality coffee beans.
A few days before Lamoste was interviewed for this story, he received news about a fellow coffee farmer from the town of Loreto, Agusan del Sur: many of that farmer’s sacks of coffee were rejected. The reason? They contained a lot of defective beans.
“Nestlé Buying Station officers are very stringent,” Lamoste says in Cebuano. “I never dared to pass on bad coffee beans to them.”
Lamoste explained that the Nestlé Buying Station strictly maintains its standards. “Those who bring their harvests of GCBs that include damaged beans or have a lot of debris like dirt or small stones, will have a hard time passing the quality check,” says Lamoste.
Lamoste wholeheartedly agrees that quality standards have to be applied not only in the coffee-making process but right from the beginning: first in the quality of the seedlings planted, and, later, in the quality of the harvest that is used in making coffee.
“There are truly things in life that are more important than a quick paycheck. These include first, the pride and personal satisfaction that you met the highest standards in your harvest; second, the credibility you establish with your buyers; and third, the knowledge that you have kept a family legacy and tradition.
“Credibility is something you cannot exchange for quick money. It will sustain you through all your future harvests and future transactions with your buyer. It’s a long-term guarantee of trust and quality—the buyer knows he gets his money’s worth and the farmer can count on a lasting partnership with the buyer,” Lamoste explains.
Lamoste adds that the strict attention to quality that his family and Nestlé put in during these stages in the coffee making process directly impacts each cup of coffee that consumers drink: a delicious cup that’s 100% pure coffee flavor and aroma can only come from the best main ingredient.
First Pick Excitement
Amid all the excitement felt in his household come June (the start of harvest season in the Caraga Region) Jolan is always cool-headed and quickly reminds his harvesters to pick only the red and yellow cherries.
“Coffee cherries are much better during first pick because there are not many insect borers around,” reveals Gina. She has always been happy to lend her son an extra hand during harvest or sorting though she lives in another barangay. “It’s an old family habit that’s hard to break,” she says.
“There is nothing in the world that a coffee farmer awaits with excitement than his first harvest of the season. It’s a sign of hope and for the coming months. More importantly, coffee has kept our family closer together through the years,” beams Lamoste, while holding the transaction slip from his first delivery. It bears Grade 1 for quality, the highest mark Nestlé can give.