Get To Know Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA)

In-Country Partners (ICP) are ambassadors for CQI and our programs, as they host courses and support various networks of specialty coffee producers. ICPs reinforce coffee standards and aim to increase access to the Q coffee system since it is the hub to evaluate coffee quality using industry standards for both arabica (specialty) and Robusta (fine). In the coming weeks, we'll get the chance to get to know a little more about them.

The Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA) based in the Philippines, has had a certified premier lab since 2015 and became an ICP in 2016. They've been running Q Arabica and Q Robusta courses since 2015 and have hosted the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition in 2017 and 2018. For about two years, they also helped ACDIVOCA/Minpact Project train coffee industry players become Q Graders in the Philippines. Angela Tan and Cherry Cruz give us an inside look on BCAA and its role as an in-country partner.

What motivated you to become involved in the coffee industry in the first place?

In 2009, a group of like-minded individuals decided to establish a school that would enhance Filipino barista skills and increase Filipinos' coffee appreciation. These individuals wanted to establish an academy that would standardize barista training in the country as cafes were starting to be part of the lifestyle of many Filipinos. With that motivation, the Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc. (PBCA) was born. We started with basic barista training and eventually created modules that would also include the entrepreneurs who were interested in the coffee business. PBCA has hosted several barista competitions which even included international competitors and judges. As we progressed into the industry and were starting to be known not just in the country but also in the Asian region. The first five years as PBCA proved the importance of the institution in the industry. In April 2015, PBCA was officially renamed Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA). BCAA continuously raises the bar and people’s awareness of coffee’s potentials. Its mission is to help address the growing needs and requirements of the specialty coffee industry. Being BCAA made us achieve bigger goals such as housing 3 SCA laboratories -- which led to us hosting the first-ever Q grading class in the country.

What made you want to become an ICP?

We were made an ICP in 2016 since we had the only SCA premier lab which was certified in 2015. Since we have been hosting several Q Arabica and Q Robusta courses since 2015, it was only natural that we apply to be an In-Country Partner for CQI. We knew that being a CQI In-Country Partner would add to our credibility as a coffee education institution.

Did your perspective on coffee change once you became an ICP? How so?

The connections we were able to create as an ICP have helped us give more perspectives on coffee. The instructors who we have met and work with under the different Q programs have provided us with new ideas, knowledge, and understanding of coffee. Thus, representing a country that harvests both arabicas and robustas, being an ICP has inspired us to do better in training and making sure that the integrity of specialty and fine coffees are upheld.

What are some of your future goals?

BCAA has been managing the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition since 2018. Part of our future goal is to continue to be part of this competition, especially since it has created ripples of change with the perspective of many farmers all over the country. In this previous competition, we were able to enlist the winners as CQI coffees in the database. Since then, we were able to receive many inquiries on how they can also have their coffee evaluated and listed. We have started to promote on our website and social media our services for coffee evaluation with the hopes that the future harvests would make us evaluate more specialty and fine coffees as an ICP.

Role in the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition:

The Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia is one of the pioneers, overall organizers of the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition. PCQC started in 2018 and BCAA was instrumental in creating the mechanics for the competition. Having the first SCA premier laboratory in the country, BCAA was able to conduct the coffee quality competition using international standards from green coffee grading to coffee profiling. The key role of BCAA is the overall management of the competitions. Since the competition covers 12 major regions of the country, BCAA jump starts this annual competition with a training of the green coffee receiving hubs. Providing the competition kit which includes the hermetic bags, sticker codes, and the logistics of sending the samples to the competition hubs, BCAA along with the provincial and regional offices are able to track down the codes easily when the coffees are graded and profiled. What is pivotal in 2020 is the creation of two competition hubs. BCAA manages 3 SCA premier laboratories throughout the country and two of these were used fully during the month-long competition. Manila and Davao laboratories were in full operations as they weeded out through green grading and cupping with all the COVID-19 safety protocols. Every location was virtually connected through BCAA's virtual classrooms which included not just the local venues but also the invited judges from Taiwan, Indonesia, and Singapore. Up until the day of awarding, BCAA kept the integrity of the competition by making sure that all coffees were properly stored, coded, and encoded.