One early cool June morning in Barangay Kahayagan, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur, around 30 coffee farmers and their families are already up with gusto. Red and yellow coffee cherries hung from coffee trees in clusters, already ripe for the picking. It’s coffee harvest time in the Caraga region of northeastern Mindanao—farmer Julio Budlayan and his nephews are in the field to do the first pick of the season.
“We waited all year for this day,” says Budlayan while tightening the nylon cord that held the harvest basket around his waist. “Everyone is excited, everyone is happy.” Nevertheless, Budlayan is quick to remind his nephews to handpick only the ripe cherries: “It’s first about quality, not quantity.”
Budlayan knows the strict standards that Nestlé follows when it comes to the kind of coffee beans it uses for Nescafe. He and his parents have been selling their coffee to Nestlé in the last three decades. “There are no words to describe my happiness when I was informed that my harvest was chosen for the First Pick coffee. I knew right then that my harvest passed a standard of excellence” says Budlayan in his native Cebuano.