STORIES

Keeping Aurora Awake with Coffee

No sunrise in Dipaculao, Aurora is complete without the smell of freshly brewed robusta coffee lingering in the air.

This good quality coffee is one of the reasons why tourists keep coming back to the place.

Featured in GMA’s Biyahe ni Drew in 2018, Dipaculao, Aurora has grown in popularity in the whole country.

Princess Anne Fabrigas of the Fabrigas Enterprises is based in Dipaculao, Aurora. She tells her story of the coffee they grow and process.

A FATHER'S DREAM

Princess's father, Luisito Fabrigas, started the Fabrigas Enterprises in 2008 with just a manual grinder and
huller. It was a family coffee processing business that roasted export rejected coffee beans.

Engr. Rodel Idago of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) introduced the all-weather dryer (AWD) to Luisito back in 2012. The addition of the AWD to Luisito's business allowed them to dry coffee beans faster after pulping. From an initial drying period of 2 weeks, the AWD makes it possible to dry coffee beans in just a week.

In addition to the AWD, the Department of Agriculture Region 3 also gave them a grinder and a roaster to ease the processing of their coffee.

A small business like theirs meant that most of the leg work had to be done by them. From processing to selling, Princess's father was also the marketer of their product. A popular figure in their community, Luisito made sure that their coffee is known for its quality.

One such client who can attest to their quality product is the Costa Pacifica (a hotel in Baler, Aurora). With the hotel using and selling Luisito's product, the additional marketing allowed their product to be known in the entire province.

Unfortunately, however, Princess's father passed away in 2015. Despite being a graduate of education, she hesitated at first to take over her father's business, but her interest in coffee production (which has stemmed from when she was little), became the drive that allowed her to take over the business and turn
it into the success that it is now.

"Mas nag-enjoy ako sa coffee business namin kaya mas pinili ko na ito kesa magturo,” (I enjoyed our coffee business more which is why I chose this instead of teaching.)

EXPANDING THE BUSINESS

The dryer and pulper recommended by PHilMech are solely operated by them. Farmers from the Diarabasin Coffee Farmers and Processors Association (DIACOFPA) also provide the coffee berries that Fabrigas Entreprises processes.

Before her father passed away, they only had a small number of workers working at their business. But a soar in demand in 2015 allowed them to hire additional laborers to help them with the hulling and drying of the coffee beans.

According to Princess, the equipment given by PHilMech are gender-friendly and this is why she did not have a hard time teaching the members of the association in the proper usage of the equipment.
With 32 members of the DIACOFPA (with the majority being women), some are hired to operate the equipment.

At work, Princess is very hands-on. She wants to maintain the good quality coffee beans as it was in the beginning. From harvesting, to pulping, drying, roasting then grinding, Princess makes sure that she keeps track of the operations.

However, the low supply of coffee beans is the only problem in the business. A low supply of coffee beans equates to a shortage in production since their supplies are only sourced in Aurora.

From their three-hectare coffee farm of 2,700 trees, 2,000 are Robusta, and 700 are Liberica. Every harvest, 30 kilos of coffee beans are harvested by the farmers of the association. Thus, Princess plans to expand her production outside of Aurora but she also wants to focus on expanding their own farm.

Since taking over the business, there has been huge progress in their business. All of their products are readily available in pasalubong centers across the province as more establishments are now supplied by them.

Princess believes that a good marketing strategy is the first step to a successful business but maintaining good quality coffee beans means that they will also maintain their loyal clients and the hearts of Aurora people, especially the tourists.

This is why the expansion of their coffee farm is their priority in order to expand their production outside of Aurora. They have clients from Baguio and Isabela but due to the low supply of coffee beans, they fall short of production.

DRIVEN TO SUCCEED

Princess, a naturally happy person, still gets emotional when talking about her father. Her father's influence not only to keep the business moving but also on her as a person is one of the reasons why she is driven to improve their coffee business.

“My father worked hard for this business and maintained good quality coffee beans for our clients. I will
continue doing that,” she said.

Promoting their business is one of her easiest tasks since she is a regular participant in trade fairs and coffee expo organized by PHilMech in different parts of the country. Opportunities like these allow her to broaden her product's potential.

Princess has a natural passion and love for coffee. She works hard enough that’s why clients keep on buying their products. “It’s important to have a passion for something. My passion now is coffee," she said.

Princess's optimism allows her to believe that she will be able to achieve anything she puts her heart into. “If you have a good coffee supply and good coffee processing, it’s easy for you to run the business. But it’s easier if you also like what you do” she said.

Coffee runs through Princess's blood. From her father’s hard work to hers, she continues to set the bar high for herself. Through this, Princess will continue her father's legacy by keeping the province of Aurora, and maybe even the whole country, awake with her quality coffee.
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