This project began with an old photograph I uncovered while doing research at the University of Washington as an undergrad. The photograph was of the Filipino Coffee Co. and was taken in 1909 at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, 62 years before the first Starbucks opened its doors. So many questions came to mind when I first saw the image: who are these men? Why are they selling coffee beans from the Philippines? Coffee is grown in the Philippines?
The story of these men and the Filipino Coffee Co. is still a mystery to me. Though it would be fascinating to view this as something to be “solved,” Kalsada exists not only to uncover that past but to build and create from it. Roughly one hundred years after that photo was taken, questions have emerged that are worth investigating: what is the current state of coffee production in the Philippines, and how could I go about sharing this story with the world?
We at Kalsada will be exploring these questions. We will be sharing and creating the Philippine coffee story, and we will be championing for Philippine coffee that will help enable Filipino coffee growers to take part in the growing global demand for artisanal coffee.
Through this endeavor, we are committed to community building, social justice, and a genuine appreciation for good coffee and where it comes from. To us, coffee is something tangible and something many of us love. It represents a full range of interactions in the world. From skilled labor, to trade, to social gatherings, coffee brings together friends and strangers alike, across oceans and boundaries, to bond, and to share ideas.
I invite you to journey with us as we embark on this road, this kalsada.
This photographic inspiration is courtesy of: Museum of History & Industry, PEMCO Webster & Stevens Coll.