Though we found notes of jackfruit and a very floral jasmine tea aroma, the in-your-face flavor is the unmistakable flavor of a slightly watery Baguio strawberry — contrary to what the majority of Filipinos associate their coffee with, even those who have tasted specialty coffees grown here. TGC treated us to their rotovap engineered milk for this latte, a very sweet milk to juxtapose with such a funky coffee.
We sat down with the Philippine Barista Champion, Michael Harris Conlin to understand his journey leading up to the World Barista Championship (WBC), which happened on April ____, 2019. Michael told us that he was the first world barista competitor to include wild coffee foraged in the Philippines in his signature drink.
He discovered this forest-grown coffee during a relief operation for the mining community affected by a typhoon that hit the municipality of Itogon in the province of Benguet in 2018 – the mayor approached him and mentioned that they were planning to ban small scale mining and push for coffee farming instead because there was an increasing number of landslides and acres of untouched coffee in their area. Michael hopped onto the idea and started working closely with the farmers of Itogon, Benguet. After several experiments with it, he decided to include it as a supporting ingredient in his signature drink which landed him in the semi-final category of the WBC.
This was a very impressive cup both in terms of its taste, how it was discovered, and ultimately processed. Honestly, the origin of Itogon is one of the best Philippine grown coffee we’ve ever tried.