Kapé ('coffee' in Filipino) is Vancouver's first Philippine specialty coffee brand. Co-founders Iona and Paola Fresnoza started Kapé as a social venture with a dream to connect cultures through coffee. We chat with Iona to learn more about Kapé and trace her journey into the world of specialty coffee.
RC: How did Kapé coffee get started?
Iona: I became passionate about coffee while working for my aunt's coffee company back in 2003 in the Philippines. After learning more about the remarkable farming community, I fell in love with it. We started a nonprofit to promote direct trade and ethical sourcing to help these farmers.
In 2015, when I moved to Vancouver, I left a piece of my heart back home. I knew I had to bring something to stay connected with my culture and heritage. It had to be coffee. I wanted to continue supporting the Philippine coffee farmers and help them get their unique coffees into Canada and beyond. With this inspiration, Kapé was born.
RC: Tell us about the idea behind Kapé Philippine Coffee?
Iona: Kapé is a Vancouver-based social enterprise that sources farmer-direct, single-origin coffees from
Indigenous women in the Philippines. Our brand is committed to enabling farmers to earn a better, more
Besides contributing to livelihoods in our homeland, Kapé seeks to elevate Philippine coffee to specialty level and expand the market for sustainably sourced coffee.
RC: Tell us a bit about the coffee that you bring in?
Iona: The Philippines has a strong coffee culture, and we are proud to bring some unique coffees from our partner farmers. We source Arabica beans with a great emphasis on quality and best practices. Unlike the general notion around Philipines coffee, ours is not burnt or heavy. Kapé has something for everybody; the flavours are not too funky or adventurous. It is a comforting cup with slight acidity. You will find notes of chocolate and lovely mellow tropical fruits.
RC: How has the response been towards Kapé?
Iona: We have received a phenomenal response and some great feedback from the coffee community in Vancouver, which has helped us improve over the years. Kapé has been a hit among several community fairs and farmers' markets in Vancouver.
RC: What are you roasting right now?
Iona: We are roasting specialty Robusta beans (medium-light), which we have never done before. We plan to have a more extensive lineup of coffees this year.
RC: You have some unique descriptions for your coffees? Please explain.
Iona: Kapé coffee is a medium for connecting to our culture and heritage and decolonizing our identity. We describe our tasting notes in the form of Philippine snacks or things we grew up eating, like langka (jackfruit) or calamansi (calamondin). When you have our coffee, you are transported to the region. Especially for many Filipino-Canadians, it evokes a memory from back home.
RC: What's your favourite way to brew coffee?
Iona: I am very particular with the Chemex. It gives a clean cup, and that's what I prefer. Sometimes I like brewing with the Aeropress as well.
RC: Could you pass on any tips when it comes to brewing coffee at home?
Iona: Always stick to ratios and practice intuitive brewing.
RC: What does the future look like for Kapé Coffee?
Iona: We aim to have our roasting facility one day. My dream is to have a coffee tasting room with an art gallery showcasing Philippine artists. We hope to build a community around it and connect with more people through coffee.
Kapé aims to highlight the stories behind each cup and hopes this new appreciation would translate to a better livelihood for the Philippine coffee growers. Through Kapé, they honour the Indigenous farmers while promoting cross-cultural understanding.