19 May 2008

Mudshake Original Cappuccino

Here's something with the rich creamy flavor of cappuccino but a different kind of buzz.  Introduced to me by my bro A during our trip to Subic, it is vodka-based (which I love and can have because I'm over 21) and a fab chilled drink. 

It gives quite a punch, which reminds me of Mule, something that became such a hit during the rave party period shortly before the turn of the century. Unfortunately, with the same speed it rose to fame, Mule's popularity took a nosedive to obscurity. What makes Mudshake better is it is creamy and flavored with coffee and/or chocolate, resulting in something like a black russian, or the Bailey's and vodka concoction served at several launch events. 

A warning for the younger ones, below-legit-age, and those with little or no control over their alcohol intake, this could be dangerously traitorous, because the creamy flavor candy-coats the strong hit of the vodka. 

One bottle gives a good enough buzz for one person, but with ice, you can enjoy half a squat glass of each flavor -- cappuccino, chocolate, mochachino, if I remember right -- within the bounds of a bottle's content. 

This drink is good only for those who like coffee, chocolate, and vodka. If you're only a coffee and/or chocolate lover, stay away from this wolf in sheep's clothing.

16 May 2008

Tall Cafe Mocha, Bo's Coffee Club

I've been intrigued by this coffee place for some time now, but never really got the chance to try it out. These days, at about P70 at least a pop, experimenting with coffee is just not worth it. 

Glad I did venture beyond my comfort zone today, though. With 2 hours to burn, I needed a cup with just a bit of chocolate for a the feel of a hug on such a rainy, glare-y afternoon. 

The tall cafe mocha looked yummy with the swirl of frothy cream and chocolate syrup on the top. I loved that it was steaming hot... perfect for the weather. I couldn't wait to take a sip, and did just that before remembering to take a snapshot first.

It was a bit too chocolate-y and sweet for my taste, but the espresso I did get to taste was rich and full-flavored. All in all, I'd add a half star to my four-star rating.

Apologies to Bo's Coffee Club for the bad photo.

14 May 2008

Brewed Coffee, Gram's Diner

I was so happy to be served a good cup with my breakfast at Gram's Diner in Rockwell, Makati yesterday morning. It was good enough for me to request for a refill, and then another still.

Nothing can ruin breakfast for me more than coffee that's been sitting at the percolator for an hour, then passed-off as freshly brewed to go with your first meal of the day. Virtual mud, in consistency (well, maybe smoother and more watery), in color, and in taste -- no matter how much milk or creamer you add. This remains a frequent downer for me in several of Manila's restaurants and fastfood places, in spite of the coffee-lizing of our city.

Gram's Diner's coffee had a familiar smell and taste to it -- I knew it had to be my mom's fave for years -- Gourmet. This was confirmed by one of the servers. "Specially made for us, from Batangas, po," she proudly added. Maybe it was this comfort factor that made me consume so much for breakfast. The only time the smell and taste changes at my parents' house is when they occasionally shift to Starbucks' Varona, at my youngest brother's request.

It helped a lot, too, that the diner's servers, even if they were a bit overwhelmed by the deluge of breakfast and brunch crowd, still had ready smiles everytime they visited our table.

Fab way to start the day. Did me well all the way through my gruelling spinning class at 6pm. Three cups of coffee -- I felt the need for my next caffeine fix hours later, close to midnight, which I got at Starbucks. Soy mocha, naturally. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say?

12 May 2008

Brewed Vanilla Latte, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Mother's day, we headed straight to this fave coffee place to cap the long dinner of rich neo-Asian dishes. It was practically next-door, which added to its appeal. 

Recommended by their very helpful barista, the brewed Vanilla Latte has more coffee than steamed milk, as opposed to the espresso Vanilla Latte, which has more steamed milk -- naturally, espresso coming in a strong shot. I was told that if I wanted more of a coffee taste thank a milky taste, the brewed variant is what I should order. I believe the words, "stronger coffee" were used. But isn't a shot of espresso stronger than a cup of regular brewed coffee? Anyway...

I loved it. The milk did not drown the coffee taste a bit. The vanilla flavor, which I love (it's even my favorite scent, but that's another thing altogether) helped bring an instant warm-all-over experience. The added joy for me was it wasn't very sweet.

Like I mentioned before, I normally order a chai latte when I visit this place, so I believe I have never actually tasted -- or remember having ever tasted -- their coffee. It was good and smooth. It smelled fresh, so I guess it's freshly ground, but it had this bitter after-taste, in spite of the vanilla and the milk. If I have my terms right, it's had a strong acidity factor. To double-check, I had a bit of their plain brew; the bitter after-taste was from the coffee, not the vanilla syrup.

A good discovery, which I'll try it again soon. Perhaps not so late in the evening.

08 May 2008

Brewed Coffee, Seattle's Best


We were hoping to get a relatively quiet coffee break, so we chose to go to Seattle's Best along Katipunan Rd, Loyola Heights, Q.C. 

If a place's regular or basic coffee is good, the rest can't be all bad, right? That's why I try to stick to the basic brew before graduating to the flavored, spiced, chilled, iced, blended, and whatever else variants. Being one of the few times I visited Seattle's Best, I opted for their basic brewed coffee, which their barista told me was richer than the Americano. It was good, slightly bitter, but true to their promise. Went really well with their sansrival. Fab combination, plus I got the caffeine fix I needed for a gloomy, cloudy afternoon. 

Unfortunately, three out of five times we spent at Seattle's Best are tied to horrible experiences with the food and the parking arrangements -- no need for that in this coffee review -- , so I don't get too much of a thrill thinking about their coffee. I try to keep an open mind, though, so who knows? I just might get myself to try their other variants

07 May 2008

House Brew, Cravings

Took a short trip down memory lane when we decided to have some dessert and coffee in Cravings along Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, instead of Starbucks in the next block. Had their famous choco caramel cake and mini cheesecakes, too. There was a time when theirs would be one of the best places for coffee. With the mushrooming of international and new local coffee places around, there's just too many to compare it with, and, in my opinion, Cravings coffee hasn't evolved.

It was ok, not like those you'd pay good money for even if they're as dense as mud, turning slightly grey when you add creamer or milk, and threatening to bring out your chest hairs because they've been sitting in the pot for over 30 minutes. Knowing that they're no fast food joint, and that they maintain some quality because they run a leading culinary school after all, I'm sure the coffee was freshly brewed if not from freshly ground beans. But it wasn't great.

Unfortunately, considering there weren't too many people in the resto during our visit, the coffee took too long to arrive, and wasn't as hot as I expected it to be.

01 May 2008

Authentic Green Tea, Celestial Seasonings

Who could ignore the word, "authentic", apart from the unique packaging -- ancient chinese man, etc., when choosing from racks of an array of brands of this healthy beverage du jour? It just says, "choose me, pick me, love me!", so very much like Meredith Grey. Of course I fall for it almost every time.

Seriously, I first heard of this brand of teas from my sister who let me have a cup of their sleepy time tea (camomile, I guess) during one of her visits from the U.S. It tasted so good, and really almost instantly got me to chill, I assumed their green tea had to be good too. And it is. Take a whiff before you sip. It smells really fresh and pure. Almost like the L'Occitane green tea scent.

I have to borrow the copy on the box to give you an idea of how good it is: "... tastes smooth from the first sip to the last swallow. Its fresh flavour whispers of the moment when a new day first dawns, alive with invigorating sunlight and clean air. The gentle touch of our Authentic Green Tea makes taking care of yourself a pleasure." I wouldn't get so poetic, but it does take you places.

I love that it helps burn fat as well. That's the 'taking care of yourself' part that each cup makes more pleasurable. Having four cups of green tea a day to make it an effective fat burner, I don't mind so much, because it's one of the best green teas I've ever had. It's one of my top two supermarket-bought brands among the many I've tried. 

The best thing is the not-so-fine print close to the bottom of the box -- "contains caffeine". That just about cinches it for me.