Of Pulling [espresso] Shots

Under a confused weather on an early afternoon of September 3rd, I drove to Concept Specialist HQ in Quezon City to attend a workshop for coffee lovers. I was under the impression that I’ll be covering the event – snap photos around, post them in Instagram and write about the event in this blog. To my pleasant surprise, I am one of the lucky few to participate in this random workshop to showcase Sanremo’s professional coffee machines and Delonghi’s home coffee equipment.

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The workshop started with the introduction of Sanremo and Delonghi products. Short videos were played back-to-back to get more appreciation of the afternoon’s stars! A quick introduction of different manual brewing methods followed shortly which was spearheaded by Mike Canlas, a veteran in the local coffee industry and one of Concept Specialist’s main man! From my usual home brewing gear, the French press to Aeropress and, even the ibrik for the Turkish coffee, we got to differentiate different manual methods of extracting a flavour for a specialty coffee experience.

The familiarisation exercise on the various brewing methods is nothing but the perfect prelude to Sanremo’s flagship product, the OPERA. Its exterior can easily be compared to a luxury car. Mike diligently showed us how it works. After a few coffee grinding, tamping and purging, each one of us got to try to pull our own (my first!) espresso shot. Mine lacked pressure on tamping so I got a very watered down espresso shot with not much of a body and texture.

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After enjoying our time in the exquisite Opera, we moved on to bridging the similar professional machine experience to a home equipment through Delonghi’s DEDICA. It is a very handy espresso machine perfect for your coffee party en su casa! Steam your milk right after pulling your perfect shot and create your own cappuccino and flat white with latte art!

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To complete the comparison, we also got to try the fully automatic ELETTA. You only need to put in whole beans! The machine will grind it and pull you an awesome shot. Place your chilled milk in the holder and it will steam to perfection! With a press of a button, you can choose from getting a cappuccino, a long black and flat white, among others.

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And to cap the day off, we were given the liberty to try any espresso machine we want and try to come up with our signature drinks! I instantly called dibs on a silver DEDICA and had to pull three shots before getting the perfect one. Double Trouble is what Mike called my drink. Too sweet even for me! It’s a mix of chocolate sauce and caramel, one shot of espresso, milk with a very abstract latte art (at least, I was able to make the milk form on top!).

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This was made by Mike 🙂

I really had a blast. And that rush, oh the rush of doing something you really love – even if you’re not very good at it yet! It was a very informative and fun experience for me and the new friends I met in that afternoon. Thanks to Sanremo, Delonghi and ultimately, Concept Specialist for inviting me!

FNDMNTL: Streamlining Specialty Coffee

Makati is graced with yet another awesome coffee space! Fundamental Coffee will officially open its doors to the highly caffeinated urbanites and foodies on Monday, September 5th. Yesterday, September 2nd, I got a chance to take a sneak peek of what Fundamental has to offer!

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Located in the developing Ayala Park Terraces right across Glorietta 2/Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, Fundamental Coffee (which is also stylised as FNDMNTL) offers craft coffee with a more streamlined process. A bit polarising, yes? That’s what I thought at first too! When talking about craft, on the one hand, you would usually expect it to be something personalised. Something subjective that takes longer prep time. No barista pours the same way, right? And with this variation, the taste usually differs each time. On the other hand, scaling the process when it comes to retail coffee production entails a more defined outline of work. This results to a more consistent beverage with less the amount of time in preparation. As far as I know, Fundamental Coffee is first to approach specialty coffee this way.

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With high quality coffee equipment (ahem, La Marzocco :D) all around the bar, the marriage of artful pursuit of third wave shops and the standard of efficiency often seen in second wave spots like Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, etc. and specialty will be celebrated by caffeine junkies and foodies alike when Fundamental opens!

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The place is very reminiscent of Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH) Coffee Bar in Singapore. Upon entering the shop, you will be met by the counter in the middle where you can get a cold brew on dark pharmacy bottles carefully laid in a stack over ice. Packs of freshly-roasted beans are by the glass wall beside the door.

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The bar goes around the back of the main counter. On the right side upon entering, a big board of menu which is very much like the flight board status you see in airports. On the opposite end, there are high chairs facing the Park. At the back of the bar, there are screen-like frames above small wall-installed tables for quick grabbers and lone wolves.

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I enjoyed sitting at the back of the counter, facing the entrance where you can see MARCO in action – an installed coffee maker which does pour-over method sans the gooseneck kettle.

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I got to try three of Fundamental’s coffee – two single origin and an original blend. The first of the single origin coffee I tasted is Colombia – light-bodied and sweet like caramel-filled chocolate. The next (and an instant favorite!) is Konga – tea-like, a bit spicy (?) and has an interesting finish! You gotta try it to get what I mean. 😀 I also got to try their 101 blend which includes Colombia, Brazil and Indonesia. They use it on my flat white which gave it that roasted hazelnut taste profile.

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Ordering coffee in Fundamental is very simplified and straightforward. You like it black or with milk? It’s either one or the other. Should you wish to add some chocolate, burnt honey, etc., you may choose from their add-ons and the barista will happily infuse it to your drink.

All in all, Fundamental Coffee is a force of its own – breaking new grounds and still finding creative and interesting ways on providing specialty coffee! I personally love the scaling concept without sacrificing the product quality. It just goes to show how the coffee industry in the country is growing and still has a lot of potential.

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But the burning question is… Is this new approach the start of 4th wave? Head on to Fundamental Coffee starting Monday, September 5th and let us know what you think! 🙂

Fundamental Coffee

7AM-11PM | open daily

Ayala Park Terraces, Palm Drive

Makati City

 

DeLonghi PrimaDonna Elite Launch

July 20, 2016 marked the milestone in DeLonghi’s history in Asia when their new flagship product, the PrimaDonna Elite was launched in Shangri-La in Bonifacio Global City through their official distributor, Concept Specialist, Inc.

The event was foreran by Joseph Hung, the president of Concept Specialist, Inc., together with the DeLonghi’s International Commercial Director for Asia Pacific and Americas, Paul Accomero. It was attended by known TV personalities like Judy Ann Santos (who unveiled the PrimaDonna Elite Launch with Paul), Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Pattie Laurel-Filart, Angel Aquino, etc.

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DeLonghi’s promise of quality home products reflected in the PrimaDonna Elite; its easy-to-use touch screen panel displays coffee images will guide you in choosing which drink you may want to have.

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It also has an iOS/Android app which lets you remotely control the PrimaDonna Elite, letting you prepare your coffee while you’re dressing up for work!

The most spectacular feature of the PrimaDonna Elite is that you can save customised coffee recipes for each family member, letting you make the perfect coffee cup every time!

Written by Lendl | Photos by Concept Specialist, Inc.

 

REVIEW: The Coffee Man

What better way to jumpstart this page than to talk about passion – passion for coffee, that is! After all, that same passion gave birth to this site. For behind every meticulously picked bean, IG-worthy latte art, enticing aroma and soul-healing effect, are passionate people living for perfecting your favorite cup.

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On June 25, Sanremo Philippines, producer of innovative and quality coffee machines, hosted a special screening of the documentary film, “The Coffee Man,” at the Powerplant Mall Cinema 5. Making the whole experience more apt, they served various mixes of coffee (our fave being the Caramel Shortbread Latte) along with brownies and ensaymada. Well, there was also popcorn but we were not up for such combination.

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The film follows the journey of Sasa Sestic to the 2015 World Barista Championships (WBC). Sasa, a Bosnian native who left his war-torn country for an uncertain future in Australia in 1996, has shown great energy and creativity, verging on trouble-making, since he was a child. Channeling these traits to the sport handball, he created a new life for his family in their adoptive home and even played for the Australian national team during the 2000 Summer Olympics. It was his retirement from professional handball, however, that led him to his accidental yet steadfast love for coffee.

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Being the risk-taker that he is, he put up his own bakery and, from the disappointment that was his espresso bar, started his pursuit of excellence in coffee-making. From picking beans in Ethiopia, buying a farm in Honduras, cupping-critiquing in Canberra, witnessing the revolutionary carbonic maceration in Colombia, to finally creating his own blend, Sasa showed what commitment means – going through the farm-to-cup process with unrelenting desire amidst the rollercoaster ride. And believing that his producers, not just his coffee, deserve to be known, he decided to join Australian Barista Championship in 2009. He failed in his first attempt and tasted loss for the next five years. Yet, year after year, he came around fueled by his great cause until he finally bagged the title in 2015. His supportive family and dedicated team have always been behind him but it was during this time that he actually let them help in the competition. And, of course, there was also the coaching of 2014 WBC winner Hidenori Izaki.

The preparation for the 2015 WBC in Seattle must be the most excruciating part of Sasa’s journey – from keeping the plums well-fermented, calling in a milk mule, to enduring severe bronchitis while doing his routine. Yet, dedication and perseverance are a passionate person’s way of life. So Sasa faked his wellness until he made it into the finals. From the very beginning, we already know he is going to win. But as his story unfolded, we cannot help but feel the anticipation Sasa and his coffee family must have felt and the thrilling atmosphere of the competition. Finally, as Hide handed him the trophy, as if we were actually part of the ride, we were teary-eyed. Finally, we saw how love and hard work paid off.

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With an incredible story, an admirable main character, a candid set of casts, fun info-graphics (with matching cute voice-over from Sasa’s daughter, Ana) and an enjoyable flow of storytelling, “The Coffee Man” is one delightful documentary film which is highly recommendable even to non-coffee drinkers. When you come across a story about passion as intense as Sasa’s, you don’t have to love the same thing in order to enjoy it and believe that you can achieve your own dreams by giving it your all.


Written by Michelle | Photos by Franz

INSIGHT: Kapeng Barako Club

Late last week, I received a text message from the team behind the Kapeng Barako Club show. They have two tickets available for their last show this month! All shows were sold out within a week after announcing the ticket availability. I failed to purchase so I just silently hoped for an extension. You can imagine how happy I was after reading that message!

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Last night, I finally saw the 2010 Palanca-award winning play about a group of friends who have different tastes in coffee and love. It was written and directed by Juan Ekis. Set up at Third Cup Cafe in Katipunan, Quezon City, it was very refreshing to watch a play so intimate you can actually feel like you’re part of the show. The play tackles the bittersweet nature of love which they compared to the same attributes of coffee.

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It felt like a rollercoaster ride – I laughed, gave a poker face, raised my eyebrow, felt sad and bitter. But more importantly, this show highlighted hope, however subtle. Let me list down the things I loved and, hmm, didn’t love so much about the show.

I love that…

  1. It’s about coffee. – Well, obviously… I love how my favourite commodity in the world can be more than itself. How do you want your coffee? Black? With sugar? With milk? Maybe it could also be reflective of what you think about love. I am not really so keen about thinking/discussing about it but tonight, I let go a bit and made myself a bit human and delve further into my own life. So kudos for making me vulnerable. 😀
  2. It’s intimate. – What’s more perfect than staging this play inside an actual coffee shop? It’s a very intimate play in a way that you’re really sitting close to the actors which gave me this feeling (or illusion) that I’m part of the show. You won’t see everything in the set-up which I think is a very good interpretation of the message the show wants to convey -You are physically, emotionally and mentally unable to see EVERYTHING. So you just gotta risk it. Dive into the unknown and maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.
  3. The characters are real people. – You’re lying if you say that you didn’t see yourself in any of the characters. I love how real the dialogs are. My personal favorite is “You can see the future with just one cup of coffee.” Because over coffee, you’ll see if you can have a quality conversation with somebody. However, (SPOILER ALERT!) I was initially taken aback with one of Masi’s lines to Eric when he called him gay because he has no balls to stop him from getting married. But then, this is exactly what made them real. In some way, they reflect how some of us in the society is still insensitive with this kind of line of thought. Art is not supposed to always please you, anyways. It’s more effective when it offends you, make you angry or even reduce you to tears. Also, I love how differentiated and complex each character is. How relatable they are actually made it easier for the audience to connect judging by how most of us reacted to the lines and actions of the actors.

I quite didn’t love that…

  1. There’s an imbalance with character representation. – A lot has happened from the time this masterpiece was conceived in 2010 and where we are now in 2015. Though I commend how real and relatable the characters are, it felt a bit incomplete without any act to support the LGBT community. Juan Ekis, the playwright, has already acknowledged this in the forum after somebody in the audience asked him about it. With respect to my insight in the third item above, it would be interesting to see someone gay react to Masi’s line. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see it in the future many runs of this show.
  2. There was a long forum after the show. – I would prefer to leave it as is. The forum has kinda forfeited the purpose of an open-ended conclusion. Would’ve love to see people craving about what was discussed in the forum outside of the cafe. I think it would leave a greater impact.

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All in all, Kapeng Barako Club is so much worth your time and penny. It’s gonna make you give you all the feels. Though, you’ll be susceptible to having bad vibes during the show, I’m pretty sure you’ll still leave with a smile on your face and a more positive outlook in life.

My own takeaway from this show: We all need to deal with some bitterness to appreciate and maximise how sweet life can be. 

Watch out! There will be two more shows on October. Follow them on Instagram @samahanngmgabitter and like them on Facebook at Kapeng Barako Club: Samahan ng mga Bitter for updates!

Frank x Dean

Frank x Dean is one of the cafes I frequent the most. It’s a few blocks away from the office at Bonifacio Global City so it has become a perfect go-to place to relieve stress or just kill time.

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They are relatively young, with operations started barely a year ago. They are the first shop to open in the Forbes Town Center Open Garden. As of this writing, Tipsy Pig has already opened. With its very modern and artsy vibe, Frank x Dean has slid through the BGC market pretty smoothly.

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Frank x Dean teams up with Yardstick Coffee to upscale their coffee menu and is at par with their creative and delectable food selections.

Here are a few of what I’ve tried so far:

Frank’s Espresso Shake

I am down with anything topped with ice cream! Frank’s Espresso Shake is iced beverage concocted with espresso shots, milk and vanilla ice cream! Perfect for a post-lunch drink with friends!

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Basic Brew & Homemade Blueberry Cheesecake

This combination I got after a long day at work. I love the simplicity of the Basic Brew. It’s black and light-bodied. It has a very low level of acidity and just enough bitterness to wake you up. No unpleasant after taste which is really, really good.

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I paired it with the melt-in-your-mouth Homemade Blueberry Cheesecake. I was really surprised at how the big the slice is! Crust was a bit too hard but it’s fine. That blueberry jam oozing from the top is really the star!

Long Black and Doughnut

I’ve been trying to get a bite of their doughnut but I only got a chance a few weeks ago. It was a bit crumbly and has a bit sour aftertaste (though not the bad sour, maybe brought by lime extract?). Paired it with a long black to get that perfect balance of bittersweet.

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Cappuccino

I love the sharp taste of their cappuccino. It cuts right through my palate which makes it easy to down a cup! The foam is just the most perfect I’ve seen so far. I’m not a great of milk foams but I’d be pissed to miss this one.

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Visit Frank x Dean in the morning from 7AM – 10AM. You’ll get a free basic brew for an order of a breakfast. Also, make sure to taste their pizzas for a #HoldAndFold experience!

Frank x Dean gives a different experience for your usual cravings! I love how I can just escape the busy urban life without really leaving the business district. I’d suggest to go in the afternoon and pick an al fresco table.

Frank & Dean Cafe x Kitchen

1/F Forbes Town Center Open Garden

Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

0917-445-7056

The Curator Coffee & Cocktails

The Curator Coffee & Cocktails is the first third wave coffee shop I’ve ever been into. They have actually inspired me to start my specialty coffee journey.

Part of the adventure of coffee crawling is finding where the coffee shop is located. You wouldn’t usually see them in the busiest streets. They wouldn’t welcome you with huge signs or billboards. But they are surely nearby. Probably two or three blocks away from the center.

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With The Curator, they are in the vicinity of Makati’s central business district. But perfectly hidden in plain sight. Located in the corner of Legazpi and Palanca Streets, you need to go inside Cyrano Wine Shop. There’s just one illustration board showing the chalk-written name of this place and its working hours.

The Curator serves specialty coffee from 7AM-7PM everyday (including Saturdays and Sundays) and turns into a craft cocktail bar from 6:30PM-2AM (from Monday-Saturday only).

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I’m pretty sure you won’t notice it if you’re not really seeking for it. That’s the magic of this place! People who come in are usually the targeted market. You have to make an effort in finding the place. But no worries, they’d pay you off with a great experience.

Here are my personal favorites:

Winds of Winter

From what I heard, this is a tribute for the unpublished sixth book of A Song of Ice and Fire (or more popularly known as Game of Thrones!) with the same title. It’s a blend of coffee beans from different origins – Ethiopia, Panama and Guatemala.

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It is a medium-bodied drink with a little hint of citrus at first sip and a chocolate-y finish. It has a crisp flavor and leaves no unpleasant after-taste. Two thumbs up for this drink!

Dark Matter Theory

From the name itself, this one is for those who likes their coffee very black. It has a pleasant bitter taste and very well complemented by its level of acidity.

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This is perfectly paired with a Skinny Monkey (a peanut butter and oatmeal muffin) or a blueberry cookie.

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A very sophisticated drink for sure! This one is a definite must-try when you visit The Curator. Coffee base is Dark Matter Theory mixed with coco syrup and milk and topped with three little kisses. That foam is just perfect!

[Update: Check on the comment section for The Curator’s additional information.]

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I got a chance to learn more about specialty coffee from their awesome baristas! Shout out to Mykah and Wilmer for a very fun and informative discussion.

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I also got to try to do my first latte art which is very bad. 😀

Drop by The Curator Coffee & Cocktails to earn a new level of coffee experience! Do not hesitate on asking the baristas about coffee! They sure have a lot to tell. You’ll enjoy it!

Contact Information:

The Curator Coffee & Cocktails
U/G, Legazpi Parkview Condominium
134 Legazpi Street corner C. Palanca Street
Legazpi Village, Makati City
Philippines
1229

Contact No: 0916 355 4129

Website: www.thecurator.com.ph