There were three things that convinced us to pack our bags and travel to the Coffee Farmhouse in Alfonso, Cavite.
First, the thought of a peaceful and relaxing place where coffee tree grows, as per advertised by The Coffee Farmhouse in its official website. Second, the realization that it will necessitate an easy travel (read: Outtakes from the Coffee Farmhouse).
Photos above courtesy of The Coffee Farmhouse
Finally, and perhaps the most convincing factor of all, the prospect of drinking bottomless freshly brewed coffee while staying at the farm.
The Filipino colloquial term – bottomless – refers to unlimited supply of beverage or food. For the Coffee Farmhouse, that would be the free-flowing cups of coffee one can drink in the premises. In case you are wondering, it’s part of the package for staying in the place. So whether you drink only one cup of coffee per day or a hundred or – the horror-of-it – none, the cost of your stay is the same.
Don’t be a sissy and keep ordering coffee.
The Property: A Laid Back Destination
The Coffee Farmhouse is a 10,000 square meter (1 hectare) property that, in truth, is more of a country home retreat or a weekend vacation place than an actual coffee farm. It is located on the outskirts of Tagaytay, a popular weekend destination for city dwellers from Metro Manila. Specifically, the property is in Barangay Palumlum, in the municipality of Alfonso, District VII of Cavite Province. Land travel takes roughly 2 hours from Metro Manila.
Not a lot of people know of the existence of The Coffee Farmhouse. Something that we discovered based on the curious questions that often follows when we answer friends’ inquiries about our latest coffee adventures.
There are two likely reasons for this obscurity – not enough marketing and it is not exactly in the most obvious of places. To get to its location, one has to enter another barangay (*) first, Barangay Upli from the Aguinaldo Highway, then follow the winding, paved, feeder road. It is just one of those places that you have to intentionally go to, to find it.
The location map courtesy of The Coffee Farmhouse
The Coffee Farmhouse is perfect if you are trying to retreat from the busy city life. Its ambiance of sprawling green plants and fruit-bearing trees and the many nooks and cranny where one can just sit and contemplate makes it conducive for self-reflection, bonding with loved ones or team building sessions.
On a personal note, my favorite place to contemplate life is on the hammock, shaded by the taller and older Barako (Liberica) and Excelsa coffee trees near the center of the property and the farm’s roasting area. My second favorite is the outhouse that is nearest the main house and where I enjoyed my cup of coffee from our outdoor brewing series.
The seclusion of the Coffee Farmhouse means that you have intermittent mobile network signal. As followers of our CupTrails Instagram Account (#cuptrailsph) could testify, there were posts made during our trip to the place. The secret to finding the elusive signal is to walk around the property, under the trees, through the shrubberies and undergrowth and head towards the outer edges of the farm. Somewhere out there you will be rewarded with a full signal on your mobile phone, strong enough for data usage. Just watch out for ants, the wild chickens roaming the place, and make sure you don’t have spiders and other insects on your hair and clothes after “doing the deed”.
Of course a retreat will not be complete, if one has to worry about such mundane things as where to get food to eat and what time to eat it. The Coffee Farmhouse takes care of this little worry by serving 7 course meals with every overnight stay in one of its several choice lodgings – the dormitory style cabin that fits 10-15 people (called Excelsa), the couples room (Robusta Cabin) and the family and small-group rooms (Liberica) inside the main house.
Our meals were cooked by the proprietor herself, Mrs. Bebet Arenal. Just call me Tita Bebet, she told us. Tita meaning Aunt and is a respectful way to address someone of age in our country even if you are not related by blood. The meals were served at the time of your choosing based on a meal schedule form they hand out to guests at the start of their stay. The cost of the meals are included in the price of the overnight stay (prices may change so better call and ask the owners).
What the Place Offers Coffee Lovers
Whether you are a casual fan of coffee or a hard-core passionate connoisseur, the Coffee Farmhouse has something for you. Beyond the obvious name and the bottomless freshly brewed coffee you can drink, the country home of husband and wife tandem, Mr. Bert and Mrs. Bebet Arenal, is a good destination for basic coffee education, coffee tree sight-seeing and some coffee berry picking.
Five Things Coffee Lovers Should Know About the Coffee Farmhouse
- There’s free-flowing freshly brewed coffee on offer. For most, this is the only word of encouragement you have to say. The farm hand-harvest their own coffee trees, dry, roast and grind the beans and serve fresh coffee in unlimited quantity to all its guests.
- There’s a coffee trail. A paved path lined with varieties of coffee trees wind the 1 ha property. One can explore this trail on your own time or with the guidance of land owner and resident coffee farmer, Tito Bert (Uncle Bert). Just follow the signs nailed to the trees to discover trivia about the Philippine coffee industry.
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Here's a little coffee trivia to jump start your weekend: Filipinos drink at least 3 cups of coffee per day. Making coffee one of the most widely consumed beverage in the country, if not the Philippines' unofficial national drink. #cuptrailsph #philippines #philippinecoffeedrinkers #coffee #coffeeculture #coffeedrinkers #local #trivia #thoughtoftheday #pinoy #philippinecoffeeculture #kape #drink #filipino #nationaldrink
- If you haven’t seen one, the Coffee Farmhouse offers the rare opportunity to see, touch and smell, an actual coffee cherry-bearing tree. There are three varieties of coffee tree indigenous to the place – the Liberica or Barako Coffee Tree, the Excelsa Coffee Tree and the Robusta Coffee Tree. You can educate yourself of the difference of each by studying the trees and reading the labels on them.
- Coffee 101 is conducted free-of-charge to all guests, courtesy of Tito Bert, who is passionate about his coffee. It’s part guided walking tour and part short lecture series held in the recreational hall. In Coffee 101, Tito Bert shares his knowledge and research on coffee and its long history in the country, how coffee goes from bean to cup, how coffee is farmed, the traditional and modern way of processing coffee and tips on how to make that perfect brew. Don’t worry, Tito Bert does not conduct pop quizzes.
- The chance to harvest the coffee cherries and roast beans the old traditional way. The property used to boast of thousands of coffee trees. This number had since dwindled by more than 50% but a hundred or so trees can still bear enough coffee cherries to impress guests and neophyte coffee connoisseurs (if there is such a breed) and allow them the rare opportunity to participate in the harvesting process. Do take note that harvesting, like in most coffee farms, happens at a specific schedule within the year. For the Coffee Farmhouse, that’s in February, the time when the weather in most of the Philippines is still cool and dry but heading towards summer.
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We just missed harvest, but the coffee berries are out again. #cuptrailsph #coffeetour #philippines #barako #coffeetree #coffeeberry #coffeecoffeecoffee #coffeeharvest #philippinecoffeeculture #coffeelover #coffeefarm #libericacoffee #barakocoffee #philippinecoffee #philippinecoffeeorigins #coffee #coffeeaddict
When there are green beans available, guests have the opportunity to acquire a little hands-on experience in the roasting of coffee beans the old fashion way with the use of clay pots and stove (“kalan”), some wood fire and a lot of care and love. The Coffee Farmhouse has this roasting demonstration area with all the tools one need to roast coffee beans the way our forefathers used to do it – with sweat and determination!
This same process is still being done in some households in coffee-producing provinces around the country. If you have a friend from Batangas and Cavite provinces, ask them about this kalan technique.
Where’s the Coffee Farm?
Given the name of the place, guests might be led to expect that they will be staying in a coffee farm. I’m telling you right now, you won’t find any coffee orchard. The place got its name from its history. More than a decade back, the entire hectare of land was a fully-functioning coffee farm. But that is not what it is now, instead, guests to the Coffee Farmhouse can expect a place of retreat, suitable for a weekend downtime and moments of self-introspection.
But there is a story here. The Coffee Farmhouse, under its current owners, the Arenal Family, has its own coffee story.
And for us here in Cup Trails, that’s the most important and exciting part. The story behind the Coffee Farmhouse’ beans, the brew and the history of the farm itself will conclude this Origin Story series, and would be written soon for your reading pleasure.
For now, it’s just time for me to brew another cup.
Cheers from the Cup Trails,
(*) If you are not from the Philippines and wonder what a Barangay is, it’s what we call the smallest administrative political entity in the country. Roughly translated as “village” in English, a barangay is a cluster of neighboring households/families in one geographic area.
Contact Information: The Coffee FarmHouse
Look for Mr. Bert or Ms. Bebet Arenal for reservations and inquiries
23 Palumlum-Matagbak Road
Brgy. Palumlum, Alfonso, Cavite
(0928) 5555 856