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!


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.


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.


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!


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