Stop. And just stop. 

March 15, 2015 12:30PM

BATANES, PHILIPPINES — I’m now here at Phil’s Brew, Batanes’ first neighborhood cafe, and I’m finding it hard to finish any writing.

The birds are chirping, kids frolicking, the smell of home-brewed coffee, Ang Bandang Shirley appending the serenity; all beautifully distracting me from everything I’ve set myself to do today.

I came here to decompress anyway. The past few days in this island, albeit still not unplugged, has been nothing short of amazing. Even after seeing everything that has to be seen, this island — this little speck of land on the northernmost border of the Philippines still hasn’t ceased to astound every inch of my being.

Today, I tell myself, I am lucky to be here.

Being utterly present in the moment is something hard for me to do, but today, it seems that my hands are not willing to do anything. I am forced to bask in the quietness of my tiny space, this corner I holed up, along with the cacophony of the buzzing community on Sunday’s best. The wind is in my face, a typhoon is coming, and I’m halfway my cuppa. I could use this kind of peace in the city.

It’s more than the gifts of nature, or the cool breeze, or the honesty culture the island is known for. The invading peace that slowly creeps up to your system, forcing me to halt, that’s what is. Ah, when was the last time I stopped? To stay still, to appreciate, to feel the energy flow… and just flow in and out of my body like a steady stream of spring water. I in the middle of it all, just in a complete stop.

This place made me stop. Not to think, not to ruminate, not to analyze, but only to stop. I thought I came here to escape; I thought that’s what I need. But all I have done so far is to stop.

And it feels good.

My cup of exquisitely prepared local brew has just reached it’s bottom and I think a refill is in order. I’m gonna stay here for a while.

#Lokal Tweetup at Commune

Before February ended, a newfound friend (NFF) and I decided to gather some more friends to talk about local stuff. My NFF Uli is from San Francisco and is experiencing Manila for the first time. So what better to do but gather some friends and welcome him to the crazy city of Manila!

#LOKAL PosterIMG_6251IMG_6254IMG_6258IMG_6291IMG_6292IMG_6293IMG_6294IMG_6296Yay for cupcakes by Sweet Patti Cakes!

IMG_6300From L-R: Zel (HVMO), Jason (UP Diliman), Wanna (Muni), Tina (Globe), Saul (BPI), Jed (Scout Magazine), Paolo (Team Manila), Uli (San Fo), Cai (Freelance and overall awesome person), Stephen (Nipa Foods), Danella (HomegrownFull Suite), Ros (CommuneTweetup MNL), Michelle (Nipa Foods), and Kevin (Signet, Bespoke Man). (We’re missing Nica here, though she helped me organize this.)

Thanks for coming, everyone! See you all online 🙂

 

Hong Kong Hustle: Coffee Shop Hopping at Jervois Street

I didn’t get to have all the coffee that I want back in Hong Kong but I took note of the interesting cafes that I saw while strolling around the area. Hopefully, they’ll be of help for you as well! 

Most of these are found at Hong Kong Island – in Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay. Hopefully, this list will grow – because I’ll definitely go back soon! Maybe a lesson or two from the Coffee Academics… and an overcaffeinated vacation…

Ah! One can dream…


 

IMG_5513The Coffee Academics 
38 Yiu Wa St, Causeway Bay
+852 2156 0313
10am – 11pm

IMG_558818 Grams Specialty Coffee
77 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan
8am – 7am (I’m not sure if this is serious tho lol)

IMG_5590VEYGO Coffee
Kai Fung Mansion, 2-24 Jervois St
Sheung Wan
+852 2205 1011
9am – 10pm

IMG_5591Catfe
85 Jervois St, Sheung Wan
+852 3590 2686

IMG_5592Fetch Coffee
109 Jervois St, Sheung Wan

IMG_5595Backerei Cafe
G/F Western Market, Sheung Wan

IMG_5602Agnes B. Cafe L.P.G.
17-19 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay

IMG_5675Rabbithole Coffee and Roaster
3 Landale St, Wan Chai
+852 2528 0039
7:30am – 8pm

IMG_5692Barista Jam
126-128 Jervois St, Sheung Wan
+852 2854 2211

IMG_5694Cupping Room
LG/F 299 Queen’s Road Central
Sheung Wan
+852 2799 3398

IMG_5695Corner Kitchen Cafe
226 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan
+852 2547 8008

IMG_5697Caffe Habitu
Hung Hom, near HK Polytechnic Uni

 

Stories of coffee

It’s been crazy for me – coffee and I. I will already apologise because I sound like a junkie of sorts. But I just can’t help it. It’s like I haven’t known what coffee tastes like and my taste buds are sooooooo asking for more. My heart can’t keep up, and I don’t want to go back being a sleepless zombie again. So I turn to Youtube —

Thrash Lab did a good job with this documentary about specialty coffee shops in the US! Watching feels like smelling and tasting and being in the coffee shop. Or I was just craving for a cuppa, idk really. But I enjoyed knowing more about these shops who takes the next step of knowing their coffee – from seed to cup. Such geekery watching them play with their toys (oh that Hario V60!) Thrash Lab has a lot of good videos to watch… I could easily use up an hour just watching. They’d probably coffee-d up to come up with these!

Satisfy your cravings of maximum coffee geekery and watch how making coffee can easily turn into Dexter’s Lab! Zagat‘s feature on Seattle’s Caffe Vita and the coffee siphon is absolutely amazing! I’ve seen this done once in Craft Katipunan here in Manila. Reminds me of the chem lab in high school without the nasty odors!

Watching how people follow their passion inspires me so much! Their enthusiasm is contagious. You can see sparkle in their eyes when they talk about the one thing they love to do. When they stand and decide that doing anything else is futile – you just feel it flowing from them. Nick Clark from New Zealand in his Tedx talk is absolutely charming. Don’t you just love him and his accent?

In the same vein, Asher Yaron, in his pursuit of the perfect cup, is very inspiring. I admire his vigilance against stale, old, and dead coffee – because coffee is meant to be alive! I am now understanding why coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world – because it brings the best in us; from drinking it just because to finding the perfect cup.

And don’t you just love mythbusters?

Here’s to enjoying a cuppa!

Coffee isn’t bitter. It tastes just like coffee, that’s it.

A little digression — sorry, my blog has been on maintenance for a couple of days, but now I’m back! And I have a lot to share, being the oversharer that I am, hihi.

Now on to coffee! I’ve been fascinated with coffee ever since I know how to pull off all-nighters and watch movies til early morn. It aided me into long exams, long phone calls (don’t ask), dating (ehem, not a V-day post, please), enduring entirely painful meetings, and that bitchy board exam. Dawdling sleepless zombie in Manila that I am, yes I appreciate the kick and high from a nice brew.

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But a nice brew when you are young is one that’s full of milk and sugar. That trendy Frappucino, which I still like. Or lattes, which are the bane of my waistline. Oh, in days that the wallet just can’t spew any more dough, Kopiko works. Highs and lows. Anything but the bitter black brew. Once I tried downing a shot of good ol’ espresso shot and my heart has never burned like before. I won’t even pretend that I liked it.

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But coffee is an odyseey, as my queen of a blogger deity said. It’s a journey, and it will definitely come a time when you will like coffee for its truest form. No it isn’t bitter. Or isn’t all bitterness. Coffee is a spectrum of flavor. Delicate flavor, that is. I’ve come to learn that different brewing styles fit for different people. There are A LOT of things to consider too, like water temperature, beans, and equipment. It’s actual food science, and art – involves a lot of experiement and creativity.

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I’ve learned how to drink appreciate my coffee black, just recently. I’m not one to pretend like an adult and try to gulp coffee without any sugar. But I’m pretty sure, that like other coffee lovers out there, that a nice brew is just ain’t a good cuppa. I started to cut down the cream. Then the sugar followed suit til a teaspoonful is still sweet for me. Thanks to Commune (and the internetz) and my last teaspoon of sugar is down.

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Now, I’ve been hearing a lot about pour over coffee. It’s almost ceremonial and puristic for me, that I never tried it myself at home. My go-to coffee brew is one that comes from a humble French press and I love it. So when the barista from Commune offered this, I overstayed my welcome at the counter and watched him prepare my drink. It was love and respect that I felt over coffee as I see it brewed in the most delicate manner, at least for me.

20140211-091443.jpg Ros, my friend, former boss and now owner of Commune, used to tell me to learn how to drink my coffee black. And I now do! Ain’t you a proud momma, Ros?

A pour over brew, as I learned, relies on the control of the infusion of beans. The speed by which hot water goes through the coffee affects the taste and acidity. Apparently these grounds from Mt. Matutum, South Cotabato has a sweet finish without sugar. It starts like how all cups start – it’s a bit bitter and acidic, and there’s the bold familiar flavor – and then the sweet finish. It’s weird because I have not tasted coffee like this and it really makes a good cup, not just nice.

I think, Joe Bean Coffee Roasters from Rochester, New York explains best why pour over coffee gives you a different coffee experience. And Joe is smokin’!

If you had done pour over coffee at home, tell me your experience in the comments below!

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