When Ideas Percolate

How one couple in the Philippines turned their love for coffee into a micro enterprise

How many people dream of getting paid to do what they love? One coffee-loving couple based in the Philippines decided to take their hobby to market by founding JRED Food Processing (JRED), a family-owned, coffee processing business located in the heart of Malitbog, Bukidnon, in the Northern Mindanao region of the Philippines.

As coffee aficionados, Rogelio and Judith Saguinhon would roast their own beans and share their blends with family and friends, who, to their surprise, kept coming back for more. That was great for their business but shifting from manually roasting beans with a single brick furnace to fulfilling larger orders was not an easy task. “After manually roasting the beans, we had to travel nearly one and a half hours to the Northern Mindanao Food Innovation Center in Cagayan de Oro City to have the beans ground,” explain Rogelio and Judith Saguinhon.

After manually roasting the beans, we had to travel nearly one and a half hours to the Northern Mindanao Food Innovation Center in Cagayan de Oro City to have the beans ground.

Rogelio and Judith Saguinhon, founders of JRED
JRED Food Processing Site at Poblacion, Malitbog, Bukidnon, District 1. (Photo: © Courtesy of JRED Food Processing)

Nowadays, their biggest market is in Cagayan de Oro City, where local coffee shops and nearby hotels purchase their coffee in bulk. Despite initial challenges, the couple hopes to expand their business, provide their community with employment opportunities and create additional innovative blends to offer coffee lovers more options.

JRED offers coffees for every taste. Its signature blends, Kape Rogers and Señor Rogelio, combine robusta, excelsa and powdered mangosteen. Kape Rogers offers a lighter brew whereas Señor Rogelio is for those who prefer a stronger cup of coffee.

The coffee is packaged in attractive and resealable stand-up, plastic pouches. JRED's Señor Rogelio blend also comes in reusable plastic bottles, which provide a more sustainable packaging option while preserving the beans' aroma and freshness.

JRED Food Processing’s re-sealable, stand-up plastic pouches are handy, presentable and convenient for their customers. (Photo: © Courtesy of JRED Food Processing)

Branding a cup of coffee with intellectual property

Since the creation of its Kape Rogers blend in 2017, the company has benefitted from various initiatives by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Philippines. These programs are designed to equip micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with the tools they need to compete in their market sector.

For example, JRED took part in DOST's flagship Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP). SETUP helps MSMEs adopt technological innovations to streamline their operations, improve productivity and become more competitive. Through the SETUP program, JRED has benefitted from expert advice that has allowed them to meet the requirements to obtain their License to Operate from the national food and drug administration. With this invaluable assistance, they were able to secure the license within a year.

The company has also secured intellectual property (IP) rights for its logo, label and brand name, Señor Rogelio, which is derived from the owner's name. With a registered trademark in hand, the couple now enjoy exclusive rights to use it for a minimum of 10 years in the Philippines. “It took us almost a year to acquire our IP rights, due to snail mail and publishing protocols. It was a relief that DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] and DOST checked on us regularly. Their assistance was invaluable" says Judith Saguinhon.

It took us almost a year to acquire our IP rights, due to snail mail and publishing protocols. It was a relief that DTI and DOST checked on us regularly. Their assistance was invaluable.

Judith Saguinhon, co-founder of JRED

With these rights in hand, the couple has successfully transformed their brand into a moneymaking asset. It has also boosted the couple’s confidence in dealing with more varied and expanded business partnerships with a view to creating new income-generating opportunities that will improve their bottom line.

These IP rights are also allowing the company to explore their creativity and to develop the image for their business by, for example, developing and securing protection for new trademarks, logos and product designs. Their IP rights have differentiated their products and services in the local market and enabled them to attract new customers. Judith Saguinhon is in no doubt about the importance of a registered trademark to JRED's business. “Having a registered trademark helped our Señor Rogelio mangosteen coffee rise from its humble beginnings in a small town in the Philippines to now having global recognition. IP can really benefit even the small businesses!”

Having a registered trademark helped our Señor Rogelio mangosteen coffee rise from its humble beginnings in a small town in the Philippines to now having global recognition. IP can really benefit even the small businesses!

The aroma of success

What started as one person’s love for coffee has transformed into a full-fledged business venture. Future plans include increasing partnerships within Cagayan de Oro City and Bukidnon and expanding their market reach by selling their products through various online platforms. As they consider exploring the development of visual assets and designs to differentiate their products and services in the digital economy, they can rest assured they have the means to protect their brand.