Coffee has always been a perennial favorite of Filipinos. However, the pandemic has forced people to stay indoors and unable to enjoy their favorite beverages. This prompted a group of coffee-loving friends to band together and launch Bulan Coffee which features Japanese drip coffee as their product.
“Me and my friends always wanted to have a business together even before pandemic but we didn’t know what product/service to sell/offer. Then Covid happened. One boring afternoon, I had a light bulb moment. Why not sell coffee?” Mika Ishikawa, one of the 4 partners of Bulan Coffee shared.
Ishikawa and Therese Albarracin, both self-confessed selenophiles, were adamant that the moon be included in the branding of the product. However, they wanted to pay highlight the homegrown aspect of the company and its product thus the name Bulan, the word for moon in Ilokano, Bisaya, Kapampangan, and Bicolano.
The beans are all sourced from the Cordillera region and the packaging also reflects this.
The design draw inspiration from traditional patterns found in Kalinga textiles. By sourcing the coffee from local farmers, the company also hopes to empower them and show to a larger audience the quality of local beans.
“At first we were thinking to sell coffee grounds or beans. But when we did our research, there are just so many people and businesses who sell that. A lot of people do not own a coffee machine or even just a coffee press, so the Japanese in me said why not drip coffee?
I believe it is the perfect product. You don’t need a machine but you can still get yourself a cup of brewed coffee in a short time,” Ishikawa added.
To make it more accessible to others who are not as experienced with brewed coffee, Bulan Coffee infused flavors in their beans. Macadamia, Coconut Caramel, Irish cream and Mocha are the crowd favorites. However, unlike other flavored coffee products that overwhelm the original taste of coffee, the additional flavors in Bulan Coffee’s product line are less intrusive. Instead, the spotlight is focused on the bean’s actual flavor characteristics while the additional flavors play a supporting role, shaping the drinking experience in a subtle manner.
It was because of this attention to quality that Bulan Coffee became a hit. “We had 1200 pcs of drip coffee as initial stocks and it was sold out in 6 days. The first few days were crazy! We didn’t expect the influx of orders. Originally, our stocks were divided between me and Carlo Tribianaso orders could be delivered from the South and North. It was tiring but fun. Now on our 3rd month, all the stocks were divided among 3 of us, including Grace Nuki. Carlo and I couldn’t handle the volume of orders between the 2 of us alone,” Ishikawa shared.
Moving forward, the partners plan to expand their products to include mugs and other equipment as well as other coffee flavors. While the team dreams of putting up their new café, they are also cognizant of the changes in lifestyle the pandemic has brought about and have opted for focus on other matters for the meantime. “A brick-and-mortar coffee shop is definitely part of the plan. We’re a fan of 5th wave coffee shops so we definitely want to have a physical store for Bulan Coffee in the future. Fingers crossed,” Ishikawa said.