February 25, 2004 (STAR) By Rose De La Cruz - Local coffee farmers will now have another market for their produce with the opening next month of the coffee cart program of Mocha Blends Philippines.

With competition among high end gourmet coffee shops becoming very stiff, Mocha Blends is exploring the markets lower C, D and E for its espresso coffee, iced coffee and iced tea products using coffee nook or carts as venue.

Mocha Blends will launch next month its coffee carts, which will be called Coffee Nook, and is eyeing at least 500 carts this year throughout the country. Each cart would cost P200,000 over a three-year lease period, according to Tom Quijano, head of the Business Development Group and Coffee Nook general manager for Mocha Blends.

The cart package includes the cart itself, the espresso machine, a mini ref, 2 tables with 8 chairs.

Aside from coffee and select lines of iced tea, the carts will also be selling cakes, breads and eventually even ready to serve sandwiches supplied by the central commissary of the company, Quijano said.

The carts will be selling espresso, selected blends of iced coffee and iced tea at definitely lower rates than its regular Mocha Blends outlets to cater to the needs of coffee drinkers who have less cash to dispense, Quijano said.

Potential sites for locating the carts are offices, frontage of schools or churches even school canteens, hospitals, business centers, market places, terminals of buses, trains, or shipping lines and areas with high traffic, visibility and safe and secured.

Coffee Nook is the trade name while Greenfields Agri is the company name which is a sister company of the Mocha Blends Philippines (which already has 29 company-owned and franchised outlets in the country). The mother company of Mocha Blends and Coffee Nook is LAC Agribusiness (distributor of agricultural machineries).

Coffee and iced tea sold in the nooks will be cheaper by 40 percent since we are purposely targeting a different market segment which also loves coffee, Quijano said.

Based on feasibility study, if a cart sells 100 cups a day, the payback period is five months, Quijano said.

In the market for only two years, Mocha Blends has been giving foreign franchisees of Starbucks, UCC and others a run for their money, Quijano said.

"Our continued stay here is proof that local coffee, unlike those sold by foreign franchisees, are globally competitive in taste and quality," Quijano said adding that his company sources all its beans locally, sends them to Australia for roasting and back as brewing quality beans.

But our company intends to put up a roaster in the country eventually, although it still has to ascertain raw material supply to justify the operations of the roasting machine, explained LAC Agribusiness founder and Mocha Blends president Florante de la Cruz.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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