It's 4am, 85 degrees, 100% humidity, and Aaron and I are sitting around our coffee table frantically scratching down notes and debating what role micro-finance institutions can or should play in developing a Filipino coffee industry -- BOTF is officially underway.
Today we split into two groups and flew to the southern island of Mindanao, the focus of our project. Team southern Mindanao drove two hours from General Santos (home of Manny "pacman" Pacquio) to a small coffee farming community on the base of a volcano. We had great interviews with a few farmers, and learned about their process from tree to market. They were gracious hosts and great sources of information. Tomorrow we'll meet with the single purchaser of their beans and hopefully have our first "cupping" session. We're also pushing to try some of the exclusive "civet coffee", a blend of beans that are eaten by small jungle cats who ferment the beans in their stomach and poop out a blend that goes for upwards of $150 per pound -- delish!