A commercial asks “who do you wake up for?” For most of us, we leave the comforts of bed to prepare for work or school. The quaint community of Barangay Tala, Orani Bataan, however, does so we could enjoy an energizing cup of coffee to make it through the day.
The Tala Orani Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TAMCO) is not a textbook tourist destination per se, but for the people and their heartwarming stories, it is in every right, a fitting detour for those who want to know their coffee on a deeper level.
Heritage is what TAMCO chairman Gina Mangalindan wants visitors to take away from a trip to the humble village. The coffee production in Tala started in the 1920’s, and involves generations of families protecting land, and decades of hard work for the beans that keep the community alive today. This inheritance is what the social enterprise TAMCO aims to protect and develop.
They work together with the community to empower local farmers make the business of coffee a sustainable livelihood. Coffee is a valuable commodity. A coffee plant when properly taken care of can last a century, which can turn a handsome profit if cared for correctly. TAMCO provides farmers access to facilities that would otherwise not be available to them. TAMCO was able to invest in advanced machinery that speeds up production and keeps production up to FDA standards. A centralized facility is also in the works where farmers can mill and roast their beans at a fraction of the cost. Farmers are also taught new and efficient ways to grow their crop.
The most abundant kind of coffee the community produces is Robusta, but there is also a rich harvest of Liberica and Excelsa in the area. At Tala, dried coffee beans are air roasted, giving each cup a distinct taste that can compete on the global stage. The flavor is also influenced by other crops surrounding the coffee plants. Sharing space at the plantation are crops such as cacao, pepper, and coconut. Gina shares that at the Manila Coffee Festival, which they took part in, cuppers lined up for a sip and pointed out notes of spice, chocolate, and wine present in the brew. This validation further fuels TAMCO to help the Tala community realize their full potential.
To do this, the social enterprise is teaming up with the government to facilitate community tourism. A newly-built farmhouse, complete with amenities and overflowing fresh brew, is ready to receive visitors. Meanwhile, TAMCO personnel who were once farmers themselves, will delightfully tour you around the plantation while imparting tidbits of knowledge about coffee farming. And since the plantation is by a river, they are planning to put up a campsite which would be perfect for educational tours. TAMCO is also calling for people to adopt farmers: a small investment goes a long way; and in this case fills more cup with amazing coffee.
Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos | Photos by Jezeil Romero
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE April 2019