Coffee industry ‘hot, brewing’ in Iloilo
The coffee industry in Iloilo, even in Western Visayas, is inevitably hot and brewing.
The popularity of local coffee shops is one proof how Ilonggos are coffee lovers, or we say, “coffee business”-minded.
Seeing the industry’s potential, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) beefed up its support to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the coffee industry in the region.
In fact, it is one of the seven priority industry sectors of the department.
For 2022 alone, the DTI regional office 6 has prepared 18 kinds of training for coffee entrepreneurs to help them improve their products in terms of packaging and marketing.
Among others, DTI has “Kapatid MentorMe” program – its flagship program that aims to create smart entrepreneurs.
In Iloilo City, the city government, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Iloilo Chapter, Inc. and other stakeholders forged a partnership with the goal of providing a venue to promote local coffee brands in Iloilo through the annual Iloilo Coffee Festival.
The event which was held at SM City Iloilo has gathered coffee lovers and enthusiasts. The coffee festival was part of the Iloilo Business Week in line with the celebration of Iloilo City’s 85th Charter Day.
SM City Iloilo Mall Manager Engr. Gilbert Domingo said that hosting such event is their commitment to the city and its MSME sector.
Believing in the importance of forging stronger ties with the community, Domingo stressed that through the years SM City has been an active partner of local government units and PCCI in creating programs to enrich and sustain the growth of MSMEs.
But SM City does not just play as event’s host but also a stationary home to some local coffee shop brands, giving them the opportunity to grow their business with the mall.
Of them is one of the newest local coffee brands “Kurukape” located at SM Southpoint and Molo Mansion.
Over a “coffee talk,” former officemates Johnny Carado and Herbert Dayonot, who are both coffee lovers, started dreaming of having a business of their own.
Having learned about the potential of coffee industry and the rich coffee community in Iloilo, they decided to have a startup.
After several days and nights of conceptualizing, “Kurukape”, a Japanese-inspired coffee house was born. It was also a good timing; the SM-run Molo Mansion was a viable business site.
Johnny said their proposal to SM City was eventually approved. In March 5, 2021, Kurukape started brewing and serving young and old alike at Molo Mansion.
While their Molo Mansion branch continues to attract customers, an offer came in to branch out at SM City main branch in Mandurriao District.
Herbert said the acceptance and demand of the many to put up a branch at SM City inspired them to grab the opportunity to cater more customers.
“We consider it as a great opportunity, especially knowing SM City, compared to other establishments, it draws a lot of mallgoers,” said Herbert.
In July 15, 2022, their SM City Iloilo mall branch opened.
Johnny said they are thankful to SM City for the marketing assistance. More than a year since it started its first branch, Kurukape continues to thrive and attract customers.
Johnny and Herbert have more dreams for their coffee business but for now, they are just very thankful to SM City for being a big part of their success.
“We are thankful for giving us the chance by giving as the venue for our coffee business, first at Molo Mansion, and now right at SM Southpoint,” said Herbert.
They mentioned that some of the key officials of SM, who also happened to be coffee lovers and tasted “Kurukape” coffee, encouraged and motivated the duo to expand their coffee shop by branching out at SM City Iloilo.
“Sila gid ya nag-motivate sa amon nga ma-branchout kami because nakita nila ang potential sang amon coffee business,”(They were really the ones who motivated us to branch out because they saw the potential of our coffee business”) said Herbert.
Herbert added that it is not only their minimalist concept and theme that attracts the young and young-at-heart generation, but the coffee product itself. He said though theirs is of premium quality, the price is set at an affordable rate.