PABAON is a thesis project dealing with Filipino coffee sustainability and development. "Pabaon" can be read in two different ways in Filipino, as either a supply or kit for a journey, or to dig deeper. It is these two definitions that are the main aims for the thesis and the overall direction to the approach of the solution.
 
A lot of people associate Filipino coffee with being always dark and bitter, but this not always the case. Benguet has some of the best local coffees that the Philippines can offer, but a lot of farmers can’t keep up with the supply and demand of coffee. The children of coffee farmers, aged ten to thirteen, in Benguet lack the proper resources for learning about how to process coffee cherries in their farms. Within five to ten years time, these children will take over their parents’ farms, but without the proper tools and resources, they risk losing the chance of getting a better livelihood and developing their produce to a higher degree of quality. 
 
 
 
 
Postcard from Kalsada

For this project, I partnered up with a social enterprise called Kalsada who are in the process of bringing Filipino coffee to its former glory. This is one iteration of the kit that we're eventually disseminating to farms in Benguet and Mountain Province.

 
 
Image from Kalsada
 
 
Some of the children in Benguet are already starting to sell coffee cherries at their respective co-ops and are using the money they earn to buy more learning resources at their schools. Given the proper tools for processing coffee, they would be able to sell their beans at a higher price to organizations like Kalsada who are looking into boosting the livelihood of these farms.
 
 
 
The first components of the project are books that guide the children on how to process coffee cherries, which supplement the tools in the kit. The processes are separated into three books with interactive illustrations that teach the children about topics such as where the coffee comes from, to helping them pack their own bag of green coffee. The book cover colors correspond with their respective sections in the toolkit. Each color represents a step in processing green coffee. 
 
The first book talks about the myth on how coffee was discovered and a basic overview on where it comes from. It teaches the kids what skills they need to use in order to properly process coffee, and what to look for in a perfectly healthy coffee tree. It also starts with the first process, the coffee cherry picking. The second book features the processes of soaking and drying the beans, while the third book focuses on hulling, sorting, and packing the beans properly in order to keep its quality. I focused on using the washed process of green coffee because it is the method that produces the most consistent green coffee.
 
 
 
 
 
 
I created a custom typeface used for headline titles in the book. It was inspired by the environment around the Benguet area which was full of organic and natural shapes. The colors of the type also rotate based on which section of the booklets they're on.

Certain stories point out to the myth of Kaldi and his goats as to how coffee was discovered, so I adapted this to fit in with the aim of my toolkit. These are some spreads and visual cues and images to help guide the children into basic green coffee processing.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


I wanted the book to be very visual and interactive for the children, so I used different sized pages and even acetate to visualize the information.
 
 
 
 
 
The other main component of the project is the toolkit that provides the actual tools the children need in order to process coffee cherries. Not only do they aim to provide an active learning experience, they improve the problems they currently experience at the farms which is affecting the quality of their harvest.
The most fundamental part of processing coffee is by picking only the ripest cherries. People mistake coffee beans as beans similar to peas in pods, but they are actually the seed of the cherry from the coffee plant. The taste and quality of the coffee will depend on the fruit itself. If the fruit isn’t picked properly, there is already a very drastic drop in the quality of the final coffee product.
 
The first component included were the pantone slap wristbands. The colors are visual representations of coffee cherries from unripe to very ripe for picking. The bands of colors were made by using thread so it's very comfortable to use.




 
The second process is the soaking and washing of the coffee. There are many ways farmers can wash, or even not wash, their coffees. Before washing coffee, the flesh and pulp should be separated from the seeds of the coffee. Once separated, there will be a gooey film coating the seed called the mucilage. Some farmers soak the beans overnight to remove the film, while others just let the seed dry along with this film coating. What this does is that it imparts some natural sugars to the coffee beans. 
 
Since I'm focusing on the washed green coffee process, I included a soaking tray for the children to use.



 
The third process is drying the coffee beans. One problem that Kalsada told me was that some coffee farms here in the Philippines improperly dry out the coffee. It’s common for farmers to just leave their coffee beans to dry out on mats by the side of the road without turning them. Some of them also use corrugated metal and place the beans on top because it shortens the process. However, this pre-roasts their coffee, therefore lowering the quality.
 
This drying bed consists of an elevated tray and nylon strings which do not retain heat very well. It also allows the coffee to dry evenly due to proper air circulation and from the turning from the rakes when used.



 
 
The fourth process is to hull the coffee beans. Before the farmer can get to the green bean, they have to remove the hard outer shell that protects it called parchment. The fourth component of the kit is a rubber tube that can separate the parchment from the actual green bean. Once the dried beans are placed in the tube, it is rolled in between the palms of the hand and a very hard surface with a firm, but gentle pressure. The pressure should be enough to get the skins of the beans to stick to the tube, but not enough to actually crush the beans. 
 
The last and final process for the beans is inspection and sorting. Sometimes there are beans that have deformities such as discoloration, drastic size differences, and impurities. The tool I produced is asorter that separates the unusually small beans from the rest. 
 
After the processing side of the kit will be finished, they would need a place to store their green coffee beans. I made a mini version of the sacks they use to store coffee by restitching older sacks and making smaller GrainPro bags, which are the industry standard for specialty coffee. 



 

 
 
PABAON
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PABAON

My thesis project “Pabaon” aims to develop interest in the children of smallholder coffee farms to continue to produce quality coffee in Benguet Read More
90
1302
6
Published: