Afterthoughts on Borneo Coffee Symposium

It feels almost unrealistic to see the first Borneo Coffee Symposium now behind us. Months of planning was swiftly delivered in just two days, but the result was much better than we expected. It was a good turn-up, the auditorium was filled with an audience eager to learn something new.


This symposium kicked off with no more than a bunch of interesting ideas we had come up with after attending the Coffee Summit in Stuttgart Germany earlier last year. Its true purpose had only gradually revealed itself in the process of conceptualisation, planning, and post-mortem. We believe this symposium, and the ones to come, will play a vital role in the future of coffee cultivation not just in Sarawak, Borneo, but throughout the world coffee map.


If we were to summarise what we honour the most out of this symposium in one word, that would be “Diversity”.

We had a diverse line of speakers who had opened our eyes to what is happening in the coffee industry in terms of retail, research, and plantation. Their talks contained practical knowledge and inspirations, which are the most valuable takeaways from this symposium. From these speakers, we have learnt the importance of diversity in coffee in many aspects. For instance, the redemption of Liberica as a specialty outcast to the sweetest coffee we can find on Borneo is only one of the many examples that shows the importance of biodiversity. We are also reminded to keep an open mind and respect the difference in regional and cultural contexts when it comes to coffee appreciation and drinking habits.


Lastly, let us share with you our newfound Purpose, Vision, and Mission Statement for the future of coffee cultivation and a recap of speaker topics:

Purpose: To save the declining biodiversity of Borneo rainforests and protect the livelihood of local coffee cultivators who embrace biodiversity.

Vision: To see a significant decrease in deforestation for cash crop and an increase in coffee plantations as an alternative that promotes biodiversity through intercropping while creating lucrative income for local farmers.

Mission Statement: Make Borneo rainforest ground zero in finding new workable models for better quality coffee cultivation by 1) empowering local coffee cultivators through our global network of coffee experts, 2) bridging technical know-how and relevant equipment with necessary modifications to make them work locally, 3) generate new coffee demands for Borneo-grown coffees via focused and diversified marketing strategies.

Speakers' Topics Recap

Dr Steffen Schwarz (Coffee Consulate, Germany)

“Liberica, the forgotten species: problems and solution”

Dr Franca Cole (University College London, Qatar)

“The history and materiality of coffee in North Africa, the Levant and Arabian Peninsula”

Dr Bertha Chin and Miss Raine Melissa Riman (Swinburne University of Technology)

“Sarawak’s Heritage Crop”

Dr Ruel Mojica (Cavite State University, Philippines)

“The Role of Academe in the Coffee Industry in the Philippines”

Martin Bazylewich (Swinburne University of Technology)

“Building relationships in direct trade”

Dr Ma. Carmen A. Ablan Lagman (De La Salle University, Philippines)

“Farmer friendly platforms for the development of local coffee varieties and private breeds”

Jacob Mammen (Badra Estate, India)

“Coffee growing in India”

Dr Mohammad Effendi Wasli (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak)

“Suitability of Bornean soil for coffee growing”

Andres Quintanilla (Finca La Buena Esperanza, El Salvador)

“Coffee growing in El Salvador”

Fang Cheng - Lun (Zhou Zhu Yuan Farm, Taiwan)

“Alishan’s Coffee Plantation”

Dr Jayarama Balyaya (Research Department of the Coffee Board of India)

“ A Bird’s Eye View: A Journey To Flavourful Coffee"

Bryan Liew (MY Liberica, Malaysia)

“Rehabilitating Liberica: The path to speciality coffee in West Malaysia”

Edward Yong (Reka Jaya Plantation, Malaysia)

“Liberica growing in Sarawak”

Kanya Yonnameth & Kornvika Youngprapakorn

“Coffee cultivation in Thailand”

Dr Maurin Cornuz (MANE, Singapore)

“What makes coffee taste like coffee?”

Dr Steffen Schwarz (Coffee Consulate, Germany)

“Coffee flavours based on species and varieties”

Tsai Chih-Yu (Davinci Coffee, Taiwan)

“Post-third wave coffee: what’s next?”

Lin Che-Hao (Taiwan Coffee Laboratory, Taiwan)

“Becoming a processing pro”

Datu Ose Murang

“Sarawak Coffee: Past experience and future thoughts”

Rave KwokComment