What is Kapeng Barako? A Quick Guide on This Strong Philippine Coffee Bean

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What Is Kapeng Barako?

Kapeng Barako (Liberica) was first discovered in Liberia, Africa, and so the name.

In the later part of the 1800s, the Liberica plant was brought to and cultivated in other parts of the world, including Indonesia and the Philippines due to a mass infestation (coffee rust disease) of Arabica plants.

liberica plant

[Barako is a local term that means a tough man.  According to some, Barako also refers to the wild boar (source), which was used to find the coffee tree fruits for a snack.  The boars assumingly loved the pungent and strong scent produced by the fruits.]

Barako Coffee, which belongs to Coffea Liberica, is cultivated in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite.

It comprises four (4) percent of the Philippines coffee harvest.  It’s known for being a larger specie versus the others like Arabica.  Its coffee plant produces irregular and larger cherries.

The Liberica plants, when compared to Arabica plants, are hardier and more resilient. They can deal with disease and pests better and thrive well at low latitudes and hot climates.

Referring to coffee coming from Batangas, Kapeng Barako is grown particularly in Lipa, Batangas where coffee production plays a major part in its economy.

History had it that Kapeng Barako originated in Pinagtung-Ulan, Batangas where the Macasaet family first cultivated it in the 1800s (source).  Later on, the coffee gained so much popularity that even those grown in other parts of the province are called Kapeng Barako.

barako coffee bean

  • Taste: Smoky and woody are the general descriptions for the taste of the kick ass Kapeng Barako from Batangas.
  • Brewing method: Achieve a medium roast with 93 degrees C and dark roast with 88 degrees C; brew time should be at most two minutes. For a higher brew ratio, use eight grams of beans for every 100 ml water.
  • Origin:  It came from Liberia in Africa where much of the specie where grown in the past before it was introduced to the Philippines and other parts of Asia.
  • Aroma:  Wake up to the smell of the strong coffee, which is ideal for making espressos!   But then, Kapeng Barako is also with some sweetness on it for its notes of floral and fruity aroma when brewed correctly.

Barako Coffee Plant Profile 

Just as mentioned, Philippine Liberica produces larger and unique cherries versus the other types do. The trees can grow up to 18 meters tall with leaves having a leathery surface.

With the taller trees, farmers have a hard time in harvesting the cherries, so they use a special machine to do it.   In some cases, they have to use ladders for higher beans.


The taller profile has its upside also. Having a deeper root system, the trees are tougher and can access water deeper.  Thus, Liberica can grow even in hot climates, which can be hard for other trees.

Today, Liberica is still grown in Malaysia and West Africa; however, it is not widely grown like its counterparts like Arabica and Robusta are.


Quick Facts About Kapeng Barako

barako coffee on a cup

  • Liberica accounts for the world’s third most popular coffee following Arabica and Robusta (source). It’s a brown, bitter and strong coffee.
  • Kapeng Barako produces floral and fruity aroma and a woody and medium- to full-bodied taste depending on the brewing method.
  • Many coffee lovers who have tried it revealed that it tasted unlike any other coffees that they had tried, mostly due to its complex profile.
  • Brazil was where the first Barako tree was cultivated.
  • In local spas, Barako is used as a body scrub.
  • Kapeng Barako is served as a black coffee or espresso. Some people, however, love theirs with brown or Muscovado sugar.
  • It has a unique flavor profile, very complex, that is.
  • In addition to the nutty, smoky and floral scent, it is known to bring out hints of ripe berry, dark chocolate, or spice.    Some enthusiasts claimed it has this lingering dark chocolate taste.
  • The varieties of Liberica are limited due to scarce production.


FAQs on Kapeng Barako

What type of coffee is Barako?

Barako is Liberica coffee. It’s widely grown in the provinces of Cavite and Batangas.  This coffee is ideal for making espressos due to its bold and strong flavor profile. However, it’s a lesser popular coffee type versus the dominant players Arabica and Robusta.


Nevertheless, the locals love it because it can instantly perk them up, especially among the older folks.


What does Barako coffee taste like?

This coffee is notable for its woody and metallic taste.   It is also a bit bitter, making it great for morning pick-me-ups.

You will surely awaken to the pungent and strong taste of this coffee. You can also prepare it with honey or sugar as well as blend it with other varieties.


Does Kapeng Barako has caffeine?

Yes, it has caffeine, often compared with that of Arabica.  It has a lower caffeine content than Robusta, though. Most people also describe it to be a medium-bodied coffee.

Nevertheless, it has caffeine that makes it an excellent mood and energy booster.


Where did Kapeng Barako originated?

Kapeng Barako originated in Liberia, Africa and was introduced to the Philippines in the late 1800s. It was first grown in Batangas by the Macasaet family and quickly became popular, especially among the older generations.

Right now, it is still cultivated in other parts of the world that also include Guyana, Taiwan and Nigeria.


Is Kapeng Barako acidic?

It is, but it has a lesser caffeine content than the Robusta does. Its caffeine content is between Robusta and Arabica and almost the same acidity profile with the two.  And just like other caffeinated beverages, coffees can be acidic, too.


barako coffee recipe

How to Make Kapeng Barako

This is a quick and simple recipe on Kapeng Barako. If you're up to this strong Philippine coffee bean, then I suggest trying this recipe out.
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • Boiling Pot
  • Cup


  • 3 tbps. Kapeng Barako, coarse ground
  • 3 cups Boiling Water
  • 3 tbps. muscovado sugar, or honey optional


  • Boil water in a pot, and then reduce heat when it started boiling
  • Add the Kapeng Barako, and let it boil for a few seconds.
  • Reduce the heat and add honey or sugar. Boil for up to three minutes, and take out from the heat.
  • Stir and let it brew for 5 minutes before straining.
  • Serve and enjoy.
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Kapeng Barako Vs Other Coffee Beans

Barako VS Arabica

arabica beans

Barako have large fruit berries with dark chocolate notes and nutty/smoky flavor when roasted and brewed.  A middle-range Barako can be compared to a high-grade Arabica.

It has a somehow bitter taste, so it can also be used in preparing espresso.

On the other hand, Arabica beans have soft flavors and hints of floral and fruity scent.  It is easy to sip

on and has slightly acidic taste. It is also delicate, smooth and sweet. It also has the biggest market share among all coffees.

Nevertheless, both coffees are loved by coffee enthusiasts, but Arabica is the more favored one, especially in the Western world.


Barako VS Robusta

robusta beans

Robusta is notable for its grain-like and bitter flavor.  Many also claim that it has a rubber and dry aftertaste.  The reasons are high levels of chlorogenic acid and caffeine and lower sugar content.

So without even saying, it has a harsher taste versus Liberica and Arabica.

It is also avoided in many specialty coffee drinks but espresso.

Sources had it that Italian espressos are best if Arabica and Robusta are combined.

Barako, on the other hand, has a similar taste to Robusta, but it has a stronger and more pungent aroma, though.

Sometimes, coffee drinkers note that Kapeng Barako taste like liquid tobacco.


Now, you know your coffee!  What do you think about Kapeng Barako?

Tell us in the comments. Did you like this post? Share it on social media today!

Charles Vallena
Charles is the author and managing editor of Cuppabean.com. A self-admitted coffee addict, he drinks 2-4 cups of coffee a day to get his fix. In the morning, you'll often find him brewing his freshly grounded arabica coffee beans on his french press coffee. Read more about the site here.

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