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Agriculture

A unique coffee shop

- Rose Dela Cruz -

Echo Store Sustainable Lifestyle in Serendra Mall, Fort Bonifacio, is quite cramped for a coffee shop and store that sells products from all over the country and from people from all walks of life. But more than a store, it echoes the needs of the environment, communities and people to market their causes, particularly as the store caters to the marginalized sectors. (ECHO stands for environment, community, hope and organization).

The store shares a space with Kape Isla, the premium brand concocted by the former Coffee Development Board (now known as Philippine Coffee Board) for locally-grown coffee to help the sector regain its prominence in the world market in the near future. Kape Isla is the one that leased the 60-sq.m. street level space in posh Serendra mall.

The Echo Store was conceived by Pacita Juan, co chairman of the Philippine Coffee Board; Reena Francisco, her co- shareholder at Figaro Coffee Co.; and environmentalist Jeanny Javelosa while touring the country pushing barako, Philippine coffee, and making the farmers get back on their feet to revive their trees to fill in even part of the rapidly-growing demand for coffee here and abroad.

In the process of crossing from north to south, the three found themselves in deep discussion and bargaining with suppliers of all kinds of native crafts, herbal medicines and products from recycled paper and plastics of the indigenous tribes and people from the marginalized sectors who would never stand a chance of finding a regular market for their produce. They dealt with NGOs that actually linked these people with the trio and replenished current or supplied new products to the store.

“Pushing the barako, teaching the farmers how to harvest and dry their bean for better quality and price and in the process jointly running the Echo Store and Kape Isla in one room, gave me and my partners a fulfillment we would never have achieved being CEO or top executive of any thriving company,” Juan told The STAR.

Juan was offered the space in Serendra by the Ayalas for the Kape Isla as she was behind the coffee month of October and free coffee samplings from 2002 to 2007 at the Greenbelt and Glorietta malls. “After October, those who have tasted Philippine coffee will inquire where they can buy regularly. And I had no single venue to tell them. So I talked to the Ayala people and they offered the Coffee Board this space,” she recalled.

After 18 months at Serendra only as Kape Isla, people approached us offering their products for consignment. They had very good quality products so the three of us decided to allot a store space for them. Then the numbers of suppliers grew.

The Echo Store promotes the products of the marginalized sectors “and we tell the patrons that for every item they buy they are able to help several other less fortunate people,” Francisco said.

AFTER OCTOBER

COFFEE

COFFEE BOARD

COFFEE DEVELOPMENT BOARD

ECHO STORE

ECHO STORE AND KAPE ISLA

ECHO STORE SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE

KAPE ISLA

PHILIPPINE COFFEE BOARD

SERENDRA

STORE

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