Only 3 Philippine Shops in PayWithAPoem 2016?

(image from the official Julius Meinl website)

There are certain times of the year when we celebrate coffee. There’s the International Coffee Day, for example, which takes place on October the 1st every year. There are the many international Barista championships, the International Queen of Coffee Beauty Pageant…and then there’s the PayWithAPoem initiative.

As someone who loves both coffee and poetry, I feel the need to write an entire blog post dedicated to this event.

What is the PayWithAPoem initiative?

This global event was initiated in 2015 by Austrian coffee manufacturer and retailer Julius Meinl in honor of World Poetry Day. Basically, on March 21 of every year, you can step into participating shops and pay for your coffee with an original poem.

The official website of Julius Meinl provides resources for this initiative (the one they made for 2016 is here). The hashtags “#PayWithAPoem” and “#PoetryForChange” are often used on social media by poets and shops to indicate their participation.

Which Philippine shops participated in this year’s PayWithaPoem initiative?

Since the official map of participating shops on the Meinl website didn’t yield any hits for the Philippines, I had to turn to Google.

In a country like the ours, where many small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a strong social media presence, Google is admittedly not the most reliable tool for compiling resources. However, it felt like the only tool I had at my disposal. That, and Tagboard, which helped me crawl through social media sites via hashtags.

My feeble cyber-detective skills were severely tested, and on World Poetry Day itself, my research turned up only 3 names:

I use the term “shops” and not “cafes” or “coffee houses” because of course you don’t have to be a cafe or a specialty coffee shop to participate. Also, I wouldn’t strictly classify Kamuning Bakery as a cafe. It is, in fact, a local culinary institution, having been around for 77 years.

Of the three shops listed, only Kamuning Bakery posted updates about patrons’ contributions to World Poetry Day – leading one to wonder how successful it was at the other cafes mentioned. It seems like it was a good day for Kamuning Bakery, however! Lots of lovely contributions shared on their Facebook page, for example:

One of numerous diverse #poems by customers yesterday at #worldpoetryday celebration in #kamuningbakerycafe #poetry #poet #literature #nofilter #picoftheday #instalike

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#poetry in #photography by #kamuningbakerycafe customer Giselle Kasilag, this picture taken yesterday during celebration…

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Visual #poetry by #kamuningbakerycafe customer Giselle Kasilag in her beautiful #photography, displayed alongside…

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#Poetry, #coffee, good foods & pugon-baked cakes/breads… One of the delightful #poems by customers of…

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Why Would Philippine shops want to participate?

That’s a good question. I guess one way to find out is to ask the establishments that participated, and the ones that knew about it but chose not to participate. I may get back to you later on this.

Speaking for myself, as a coffee-lover who loves literature: I want more people to see for themselves how coffee can fuel the creative writing spirit. I want more people in my very literate country to participate in World Poetry Day, and I want more shops to offer an incentive for that!

If you know of other shops located in the Philippines that participated in the PayWithAPoem initiative, either this year or in the past year (2015, when the movement began), please let me know in a comment on this post!

Is There Going to Be a Coffee Shortage?

The news went viral last year, when news of droughts hitting Brazil and other South American countries – the world’s foremost suppliers of coffee – sparked fears of a global coffee shortage. Brazil’s coffee industry undoubtedly took a hit starting in 2014, leading to lower quality goods and higher prices.

As climate change wreaks havoc on plantations worldwide, we remain on tenterhooks about the future of the coffee industry. The International Business Times reported just earlier this month that we may be looking at a “chronic long-term shortage of supply.”

However, not everybody agrees that undersupply is imminent. Daniel Bier of the Foundation for Economic Education says the numbers just don’t add up.

Supply shrank, demand grew, and we didn’t have a shortage — thanks to the miracle of the price system, coordinating the behavior of millions of coffee growers, investors, wholesalers, retailers, entrepreneurs, and drinkers around the globe.

In fact, coffee is more abundant than ever. World coffee production has roughly doubled since 1961.

(Read the rest of the writeup here)

So if you ask me, the jury is still out on whether or not there is actually a “shortage.”

There’s no question that climate change is affecting food production all over the world, however. El Nino is a problem faced by agricultural areas worldwide, even here in the Philippines. However, there don’t seem to be reports as of  yet about coffee plantations taking major losses. Many plantations are located in the cooler northern regions of the country, and for the most part it’s plantations in the south that have borne the worst of this weather phenomenon.

This makes me wonder: could the Philippines use the fears of a “coffee shortage” to its advantage, and bring more of its coffee to the world? I know it’s not the nicest thing to say one should cash in on widespread panic, but maybe it’s a good time to position ourselves to the global market as an alternative source.

(Somewhat related: there are fears of a chocolate shortage all over the world. Due to a generally warmer climate in the region, Central American farmers are finding it difficult to keep planting coffee, so they’re planting cacao trees instead. It’s evidence of how the market adjusts and continues to thrive. So maybe non-coffee producing agricultural regions will find themselves able to meet the coffee demand, in turn.)