According to Rachel Fallarme of Bo’s Coffee, cafes will always be a second choice after restaurants when it comes to places where people celebrate the holidays. So what exactly does the holiday season mean for cafes?

“It definitely means stepping up,” says The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf brand manager Kimberly Gorospe-Cruz. With the market being especially saturated during holidays, coffee shops need to venture out of their comfort zones and come up with new offerings for guests. 

Holidays inside cafes

Many cafes have jumped on the bandwagon of producing planners. For the past 11 years, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has been promoting their planners every holiday season. This year’s theme is “Gifting Grateful” and they are giving their customers a choice of a journal or a tumbler (drink discounts for anyone who uses their own tumbler when dining in) once they’ve collected the designated number of stamps.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's holiday planners and tumblers
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s holiday planners and tumblers

Meanwhile, Bo’s Coffee has released their own planners for their “Give Love” holiday launch. The homegrown brand hasn’t been actively competing in the novelty item space with other coffee shops to focus more on their food offerings.

For them, the secret to coming up with a selection of beverages and pastries that would provide customers a memorable holiday cafe experience is to maintain the Christmas flavors they are familiar with (such as Bo’s Coffee’s queso de bola cheesecake) while surprising customers with new options. Even placing them in gift boxes will encourage customers to consider it as gifting ideas. But beyond the ambiance of the holidays inside a comfortable cafe, how far can a cup of coffee go?

Bo's Coffee's holiday food offerings include an assortment of cake, pastries, and sandwiches
Bo’s Coffee’s holiday food offerings include an assortment of cake, pastries, and sandwiches

More than just coffee

Bo’s Coffee’s holiday season is centered on celebrating it the Filipino way, focusing on the tradition of giving, local coffee, social enterprise, and Filipino hospitality. The brand has also been partnering with coffee farmers all over the country to source beans from Sagada and Benguet in Mountain Province, Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, Mt. Apo in Davao, and Mt. Matutum in Tupi, South Cotabato. Through these partnerships, farmers are supported to improve their production—for instance, they’re given supplies of fertilizers and equipment to increase yield. 

A commitment to purchasing produce directly from farmers results in a potentially larger profit. And since the beans are roasted locally, the coffee is as strong as it is fresh, arriving in stores within seven days of roasting. This is the company’s way of helping farming communities while at the same time promoting Philippine-produced coffee.

“To be honest, Philippine coffee is scarce,” says Fallarme. After coffee plants acquired a disease called coffee rust, farmers had to shift to planting a different crop. The Philippines, traditionally a top coffee producer, became import-reliant. 

Beyond the trend of planners and tumblers, and beverages and pastries this holiday season, cafes should invest more in purpose-driven concepts.

But with the attention coffee is currently getting, more and more farmers are returning to their roots despite the complexity of the production process, thus promising a coffee industry with replenished resources and constant growth. 

Products such as their tablea chocolate and Agrea Farm’s coco sugar as well as Gawad Kalinga’s Bayani Brew and GenerationHOPE Inc.’s Hope in a Bottle are ingrained in Bo’s Coffee’s supply chain. Even the handwoven cloth used for the couches in its cafe are part of a partnership with Anthill, a social and cultural enterprise committed in promoting Filipino designs. The weaves are integral in the design of various items such as the coffee cup, gift cards, and planners.

As Bo’s Coffee continues to seek local products to raise social consciousness, what it wants consumers to know is there’s always an opportunity for a unified celebration across all borders—one that transcends service at the store level and translates into the community.

The first-ever Bo's Coffee's reloadable card bears a proudly Filipino design
The first-ever Bo’s Coffee’s reloadable card bears a proudly Filipino design

In terms of community-based causes, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is consistent in taking on projects aligned with its values. Aside from social responsibility effort Caring Cup, it has partnered with Real Life Foundation in funding scholars nationwide and in helping them in terms of character formation and leader development. 

“Education is the catalyst to becoming a well-rounded person. We are helping people who have the capability to be someone great but don’t have the means to do it,” says Gorospe-Cruz.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf notes that many people want to help but don’t know how they can so giving guests an opportunity to do so by simply buying coffee already makes a difference. Beyond planners and tumblers or beverages and pastries, cafes should invest more in purpose-driven concepts. If cafes can harness its surge in popularity and translate this into something that benefits greater causes, a fruitful holiday season is well on its way.