People have been singing praises of Kalinga coffee for a long time, but I experienced it for myself the first time only a few weeks ago.
Actually, I think I’ve tried Kalinga coffee before, back when I was café-hopping with friends as a coffee noob. I must admit, I became a coffee aficionado (or “coffee snob,” as some of my friends would say) late in life – meaning, I was already trying different kinds of coffee back in the day, but not understanding the subtle nuances that distinguish one kind of coffee from another, until only recently.
Right now I just have to rave about my first taste of a special brew from the Butbut village in Buscalan. Please note: all photos here were taken by LAR of Philippine Travel Photos, posted here with the photographer’s permission.
People usually go to the Butbut village in Buscalan to get a tattoo from the legendary Apo Whang-Od, which I did!
But there are so many other reasons for a traveler to book a homestay in the Butbut village. For one thing, it’s a truly restful place. The people are kind and generous, everything feels fresh, and the view is just spectacular.
When there, one thing you definitely must not skip is the coffee.
^ This veranda was where we had our first taste of Buscalan coffee! It was in the cute pink thermos at the back.
After a refreshing sleep, we woke up to a thermos of brewed Kalinga coffee. We were told it comes free with every morning of homestay. The smell was abolutely divine! The coffee was “cooked” with brown sugar, so there was an extra, subtle sugar kick along with the caffeine.
You’ll know it was boiled and not “brewed” in the conventional sense because there’s a thick, dark syrup at the bottom of your cup as you finish drinking.
We asked around, and learned about the proper way of brewing Buscalan coffee:
2 tablespoons of ground Kalinga coffee beans
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
4 cups of water
Boil everything in a saucepan for 10 minutes…
…and you’re done!
I loved the drink we had so much, I just had to buy some ground coffee for myself. And when I prepared it at home, it tasted every bit as good as it did when I first had it in Buscalan!
Roasted and ground coffee was sold at a sari-sari store near our homestay for only P100 a plastic bag (roughly 250-300 grams per bag). You could also buy the professionally packed “Buscalan brew” in the very first picture on this post from the gift shop on your way out of the Butbut village. I failed to ask how much the gift shop coffee was, but no doubt it’s more expensive than the grounds that can be bought from the sari-sari store. Still, with professional packaging, you worry less about moisture and spillage!
I think Kalinga coffee prepared the Buscalan way could be well on par with Vietnamese coffee, which I tried (and loved!) during a brief visit to Ho Chi Minh. The brown sugar beautifully complements the dark, full flavor of the coffee, which is already delicious on its own.
The most recent news that I could find about the Kalinga coffee industry is that five Kalinga cooperatives received help from the World Bank to develop their products. This is great! I can’t wait for Kalinga coffee to be a big deal all over the country and the world.
And did you know that picking and sorting coffee beans in Kalinga is a task that is traditionally assigned only to women? There’s a lot we have yet to know about this coffee!
I want to try other kinds of Kalinga coffee in the future, but the Buscalan brew will always have a special place in my heart. It’s not a flavor easily forgotten.
If you’re thinking of going to Buscalan, feel free to write LAR at Philippine Travel Photos. She’s always happy to give FREE advice to travelers who want to experience the natural beauty of the Philippine islands!
Do you have a special experience with Kalinga coffee? Have you tried Buscalan coffee, as well? Do share your stories!