Coffee beans and social impact


My boss and I at our research center went to Bote Central recently, a social enterprise that is into coffee bean distribution and manufacturing of coffee roasting machines. We interviewed Vie Reyes, the co-founder of Bote Central, for a research project we are currently doing on social enterprises in the Philippines. For this research, we wanted to understand the supply chain of Bote Central and how they interact with their many stakeholders.

The poster to the right shows the ‘supply chain’ of Bote Central. They have used this model as an inspiration ever since the business was still a business plan.

Bote Central’s office is located in a subdivision in Las Piñas. The moment we entered, we can already smell the aroma of coffee beans that were stored in sacks, as well as those currently  being processed in their facility.

The coffee beans are carefully placed in a container, which will then be transferred to sacks later to prepare them for distribution.

They explain to us how Alamid Coffee is being processed. Alamid is known to be one of the most expensive coffee in the world. It comes from the droppings of the Philippine Civet.

Alamid is processed in the facility of Bote Central.

In one storage area, you can find several sacks of coffee beans. The smell makes me just want to stay there the whole day!

Coffee beans stored in sacks — waiting to get distributed later to Bote Central’s retail outlets, supermarkets, and other clients.

The coffee roasting machine is one of the most prized possessions of Bote Central. Apart from being their invention and having it patented, Bote Central provides these machines to many coffee farming communities in the country. Their main goal by offering these machines for a reasonable price is for the communities to have coffee roasting facilities of their own. By doing so, these coffee farming communities can add value to their coffee beans and be able to create new businesses and sources of income for their families.

Basil Reyes, the inventor of the coffee roasting machine, has been fascinated with technology and building things ever since he was a kid. When he created this machine, the intention was not to make a profit, but to help build the local coffee industry. To date, they have already deployed more than 60+ machines across the country. Many coffee farming communities have also replicated Bote Central’s business model. Bote Central, however, does not mind — because this was their goal all along.

The coffee roasting machine is the most noticeable equipment in Bote Central’s facility.

Of course, having a photo with the machine is customary.

My boss poses beside the coffee roasting machine for a photo.

Another machine they use is a sorting machine, which separates coffee beans of different colors. This is done through sensors that are built into the machine.

The sorting machine helps separate coffee beans of different colors.

To date, Bote Central is also now distributing to corporate clients as well. The plastic bags below contain coffee beans that are waiting to be distributed.

Coffee beans waiting to be distributed to Bote Central’s corporate clients.

It was a pleasure getting to interview Vie and her daughter Alyanna. Here they pose for a photo in their receiving area, or counter, where they serve coffee to their guests.

Vie Reyes with her daughter, Alyanna Reyes.

Once again, we’re reminded of local social entrepreneurs who are doing their part to help uplift the agriculture sector.

Vie and her team began with a business plan to create a coffee business that is for the local coffee farmers. They started with Alamid Coffee, seeing as it is one of the highest valued coffee products in the world. From there, they expanded towards different product lines such as 18 Days Coffee Roasters and Basilio Coffee, to name a few. Currently, they are already thinking of additional product lines.

One of the most notable things about the company is how they literally brought local coffee farmers to the radar of the Philippine coffee industry. Recently, through several lobbying efforts in policy gatherings, Bote Central was able to help include coffee farmers in the developmental plans of the Philippine Coffee Industry Road Map. This is one big step because local coffee farmers now have a better chance of competing with the much bigger players in the coffee industry.

During one part of the interview, Vie shared how the Philippine coffee industry was initially monopolized by multinational companies. During one meeting in the Philippine Coffee Board at the mid-2000s, she realized how serious this was, discovering that the plans of the local coffee industry was mainly skewed towards the growth of multinational companies manufacturing and distributing coffee. That was later changed, however, when Bote Central came into the picture. Local coffee beans are now being appreciated and patronized by Filipinos.

There are many other players in the local coffee industry, and they are all equally sharing their part to improve the sector. As they go along their journey, the local coffee industry will continue to grow and provide livelihood to our farmers.

Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future:

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