Kape Barako, just how strong are you?
Kape Barako (Barako Coffee) is the most popular Philippine coffee. It was brought from Brazil in the 1800’s and was first cultivated in Lipa, Batangas. It is of the Liberica variety but was substituted with Excelsa when “coffee rust” infested the local trees. Barako coffee beans today are mostly of the Excelsa variety.
The term “barako” refers to wild boar and when used to refer to a man, implies strength, toughness, and mass. The Barako beans themselves are bigger than the beans of other coffee varieties. In the early history of coffee in the Philippines, roasting was done at home and there were no set standards, just the traditional subjective taste depending on the region. More often than not, the beans were over-roasted. The common notion then was the darker the roast and the more bitter the taste, the stronger the coffee. Kape Barako was mainly roasted this way and so was perceived to be strong, another major contributing factor for its name. As far as Pinoys are concerned, Kape Barako is a strong coffee.
Although it doesn’t have as much caffeine as other varieties and falls relatively short in its “kick,” Kape Barako is well-loved here and abroad primarily because of its unique taste. It has a strong fruity flavor with a hint of jackfruit.
For a lot of people, the boost from Barako is more than enough so there is no need for them to switch to blends with higher caffeine content. For others, they take their coffee based on taste. Those who prefer the fruity taste of Kape Barako just need to drink a little more to meet their caffeine fix for the day. And after all, coffee is not just about the caffeine.