There’s Money in Rice Coffee
A lady agriculture graduate is getting rich by making rice coffee in Brgy. Maligaya Munoz, Nueva Ecija. She is Leticia Basubas, 54, who started in 1977 as a casual employee of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) near where she lives.
People from PhilRice call her the rice coffee queen. And for a good reason. From very small beginnings, she has developed rice coffee making as her virtual goldmine. Her products that now include non-rice teas are sold in prestigious malls in Metro Manila, including the SM Mall of Asia and five other SM branches.
From SM alone, she now collects an average of P137,000 a month, an amount that is considered very significant for a micro-entrepreneur like her. Of course, she also sells a lot through other outlets in Metro Manila as well as in Nueva Ecija and other provinces.
Letty’s love affair with rice coffee all started in November 1997 during the anniversary of PhilRice. At that time the officials of PhilRice requested the women of Munoz to exhibit their rice based food products like rice wine, chiffon cake, shang rice, butsi and others. Previously they had undergone training on making such products. In the case of Letty, she chose to exhibit roasted rice packed in transparent plastic. To each pack she pasted a typewritten “rice coffee” label.
The visitors were not exactly impressed by Letty’s rice coffee. After all, rice coffee is commonly made in households in Nueva Ecija. It is not a new product and it is very easy to do. All that is needed is to roast some rice, boil the same, and presto, one has rice coffee.
But that did not discourage Letty to pursue her project of making rice coffee and selling the same through sarisari stores and other outlets. She confesses, however, that selling rice coffee to outlets such as groceries and other stores was no easy task. She had to endure discouraging remarks, including insults. Who would buy your rice coffee? This was one of the usual remarks she encountered.
Nevertheless, by the year 2003, Letty was already convinced that making rice coffee could be a viable business. She resigned from her job as administrative assistant at PhilRice to concentrate in her rice coffee business. It did not take long for government agencies to notice her efforts. The Department of Trade and Industry lent a helping hand by improving her packaging and label design. On the other hand, the Department of Science and Technology also offered her three machines that could improve production efficiency as well as the quality of her product.
The three machines include a mechanical roaster, a pulverizer that makes uniformly fine instant rice coffee, and a tea-bagging machine. Oh yes, Letty’s rice coffee also comes in teabags, each containing several grams, and retailing at P10 each. The teabag machine is now also used to make tea out of other raw materials.
The machines have a total cost of P630,000 payable in three years, interest-free. Letty is now amortizing the machines at P17,000 a month. That is no problem for her as she has a good cash flow.
Making rice coffee is really profitable. It is a virtual goldmine. For instance, one cavan of rice will produce 168 pouches of ground rice coffee, each containing 250 grams. When sold at SM, the total value would be r 12,558. Deduct the 30 percent cut by SM and Letty gets P8,791. The total cost of raw material, labor and other costs amount to P2,500, according to Letty. After deducting that, the net is P6,291 per cavan. She usually processes 10 cavans a month for ground rice coffee so you can figure out what she makes.
The rice coffee in teabags is even more profitable. From one cavan of rice, she can make 5,520 teabags that retail for P10 each. The gross sales could then be P55,520 per cavan. Deduct the usual cost of production and the profit is staggering. Letty says she processes 8 cavans of rice for rice coffee in teabags in one month.
Letty is not content, however, with just her rice coffee. Lately she has ventured into the manufacture of other products that she sells together with her rice coffee. One of her most promising new products is malunggay tea. She now processes about 300 kilos of malunggay leaves a month. As more people come to know about this, she could easily increase her production. The teabag machine has been instrumental in enabling Letty to process other tea products.
Among the new products are ginger apple tea, squash tea, lemon grass tea. turmeric tea, ginger chips and salabat. Aside from reaping financial returns from these new products, Letty is helping growers of raw materials. She is making several families happy in Brgy. Linglingay in Munoz. They are supplying her with fresh malunggay leaves which she makes into tea. She buys the leaves at P 10 per kilo.
Meantime, she is also paying attention to a three-hectare farm in Munoz where she grows rice organically. Another farm is a 10-hectare property in Cauayan, Isabela, which she and her husband are managing. Her husband is a bank employee in Cauayan. They don’t use any chemical fertilizers and pesticides in growing their rice. Thus, they can claim that their rice coffee is made from organic rice.
Meanwhile, Letty does not stop looking for new products she could add to her product lines. And it would not be surprising if she will come up with other products from readily available indigenous raw materials sooner than we think.