The name Balutakay Coffee Farmers’ Association (BACOFA) easily rings a bell to anybody who is in the know about the Philippine coffee scene. This Mt. Apo-based cooperative is home to coffee farmers with huge names such as Marivic Dubria, Maria Luz Dubria, and Marites Arellano. In the pursuit for making coffee go from good to great, a new name finds its way up to the roster of local coffee legends.
Cherry Cabanday (or Che to her family and friends) of the BACOFA cooperative is no stranger to farms, having been raised in a family of farmers. However, apart from yielding crops, she has tried immersing herself in other industries to test the waters out. She has been an overseas Filipino worker in Taiwan for four years and has also worked as a baker. As of now, she still accepts orders for customized cakes.
In the recent Philippine Coffee Quality Competition 2022, Cherry won second place under the Arabica category for her natural processed coffee. She was also granted a special award for Best Arabica Coffee – Natural Process. Cherry said she was participating in the competition for the first time and had no ambitions of winning. She only came to check how good her coffee could get in terms of quality, so she was pleasantly surprised to be given a place.
After the beans from her winning lot in PCQC got sold out, Cherry has been keeping herself busy to process coffee cherries with experimental methods. She mainly worked with yeast to process lactic fermentation—a method common in making cheese, bread, and even wine, yet still relatively new to the coffee industry.
From the same crop, Cherry was able to produce three different coffees with each lot having distinct flavors, you can’t even tell they were harvested together. She was able to achieve this by first, placing the coffee cherries together with yeast and water in a closed container, stimulating an anaerobic environment to promote the rapid growth of lactic acid bacteria. She did this with three containers, the first one was submerged overnight, the other was left for 36 hours, and the last one was fermented for 48 hours. In terms of flavor, each coffee has its own distinct flavors with the common ground having a creamy mouthfeel similar to yogurt.
Now the cooperative manager at BACOFA, we’re super excited to see how much further Cherry would go to process even more exceptional coffee through innovation. Philippine coffee is slowly but surely becoming more well-known on a global scale and without a doubt, Cherry Cabanday is a name that has helped make this happen.