When I was invited for the launch of The Giving Cafe two years ago, I already saw the passion of businessman Michael Harris Conlin to use the coffee industry as an instrument to improve the lives of the farmers in La Trinidad, Benguet. His platform for Foundation for Sustainable Coffee Excellence (FSCE) breeds fundraising programs to address the specific needs of the farmers and their families. Having learned that, it awakened a social awareness in me that while I am sipping my cup of coffee comfortably and sometimes lavishly, farmers toil hard amid poverty, unfair pricing, and lack of basic needs.
Continuing the advocacy of helping the farmers and boosting coffee in the local economy, Mr. Conlin has a bigger vision. He wanted to further educate our baristas and farmers because he believes that excellence starts with proper training and education.
“The transformation of a community begins with education. In the case of our coffee community, I believe we would have to start by empowering our farmers and baristas with the knowledge, values and passion to work towards a beautiful coffee future”, he shares. Thus, the Institute for Coffee Excellence, an educational institution that offers world-class training standards for the specialty coffee industry, was born. It’s a collaborative space where baristas, entrepreneurs, coffee farmers, and consumers can share knowledge, expertise, and best practices to achieve sustainability in local farming.
VISION AND MISSION
The institution envisions itself that through education, it can create a beautiful coffee future where every individual makes a conscious effort towards sustainability and commits to fulfill its roles in the community.
Its primary mission is to empower the members of the coffee community with knowledge, positive values, and passion to work towards a sustainable coffee future through education.
A REPUTABLE COFFEE SCHOOL
Conveniently located in one of the busy streets in Mandaluyong across Henry and Sons office and The Giving Cafe, the Institute for Coffee Excellence is easily accessible to millenials and office workers. Far from a conventional classroom setting in a typical school, the ambiance closely resembles a cozy coffee shop where you can enjoy a cup of brew, listen to Jazz while reading a good book. Without even learning it is an educational institution, you’d love the laid-back, relaxing vibe that concentrating on work or studies is not a hard thing to do.
The taste for decorative ceiling lights and wooden furniture speaks homage to the Filipino culture — a similarity with The Giving Cafe’s interiors.
The institute boasts of high caliber baristas and educators with credible experience in the coffee industry. Supplementary to these are the top grade, state-of-the-art facilities such as roasters and espresso machines which Henry and Sons is also known for.
A SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH
The Institute for Coffee Excellence had a successful launch to the public last May 3, 2019. The occasion was graced by people from the media, sectors of the government, business partners, baristas and friends from the Benguet farming community. It was also a congratulatory event for Mr. Micheal Harris Conlin, who recently represented the Philippines in the World Barista Championship in Boston. Guests enjoyed a scrumptious buffet of Filipino dishes, a live band, and an open bar overflowing with coffee, highlighting Mr. Conlin’s signature specialty —Itogon Coffee. Here are the snippets of the event:
Micheal Harris Conlin is one of the few who merges entrepreneurship with social initiatives — and he shows us it is not impossible. As long as you have the passion for your craft and the utmost desire to help other people, “coffee excellence” is surely attainable.