30 July 2008

Brewed Coffee, Figaro

Figaro used to be one of my fave coffee places. I would meet most of my clients and friends there. I would also opt to get my coffee there after a visit to the MMPI office in Ortigas Ave, Pasig City, for my writing assignments instead of the other nearby coffee place, also because they have this list of delectable real food to choose from -- yummy muffins, a really good sans rival (my little oscar, I think, is how they call it), generous servings of pasta and freshly assembled and panini-pressed sandwiches. I am also crazy about their bread pudding with vanilla custard.

The lighting in Figaro is warm and cozy, and probably because they serve real food, they have more of those curved cane chairs and marble-topped tables than easy chairs and couches. So, it's relaxing, but you won't get too relaxed you'd stay all day. 

Back when I was working at The Fort in Taguig (y2k), I had a non-fat latte from Starbucks in the morning, then a flat white coffee from Figaro after lunch and in mid-afternoon... every single day. That's how much I loved their coffee.

If the local coffee expert I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs were to be believed, they have the best-tasting coffee among the bigger coffee places, because their coffee is not freeze-dried, packed, and sent here from another country. They're grown and packed here, served as close to the date packed, and ground right before being served. 

I ordered the plain brewed coffee last night, instead of the latte or cappuccino because for some reason that baffles me, esp since most Asians are lactose intolerant, they haven't had non-fat, low-fat milk and/or soy either for many months now. With a latte, the milk would be about half the cup, so that's a lot of whole milk to take for people who can't take milk. It really would be unfair to let coffee lovers order fresh-brewed world-renowned barako coffee with packets of powdered creamer. So please bring back the non-fat and/or low-fat, and start serving soy!

It's not that I didn't like the coffee, which I found a bit more on the acidic side. I probably was looking for the fuller taste of espresso, which I believe is what they add the milk to for the lattes. I'll try that next time.

Oh, and maybe -- something can be done to perk up the personality of the staff in some of their branches. A ready smile always helps. A person standing behind the counter always helps, too. I was unfortunate enough to have had to call out, "hello?!" after clearing my throat a couple of times before one broke away from the coffee machines (there were two of them, one just watching) or the room behind to take my order. 

I can't believe I am giving Figaro a lower rating than Burger King, but they're not in the same category. And just for this piece, it was probably more the experience than the coffee that got to me. I will definitely go back and order something else, hopefully, with non-fat milk.

19 July 2008

Regular BK Joe, Burger King

Yes, I order coffee in fast food restaurants. Better than soda, right? Many times, it's just, you know, fast food coffee. I learned not to expect much.

I was surprised to learn that Burger King decided to up the ante a notch with their coffee. Summer last year, I tried their Big Joe, upon the recommendation of one of my brothers. 

It's brewed coffee, yes, but they have began serving it in three variants: regular brewed (sorry, I forget what they call it), turbo, and decaf, as printed on the other side of the cup. Other fast food joints would also have these choices on the cup or the lid, but for what? They have only one type of brewed coffee, which may come in two to three shades, depending on how long it was left on the warmer. 

Unlike other fast food coffees, the BK Joe comes in a better, sturdier cup, with a lid that has a raised drinking spout, which can be opened and resealed with a snap. I love that their coffee also comes not with a packet of non-dairy creamer, but with those little brown sealed cups (like in hotels and planes) with milk in them.

I tried both the BK Joe regular (I already had two coffees earlier that day) and the turbo (on a day when I badly needed coffee to keep me going). Not bad... In fact, they're very good. No grey color and you won't grow hair on your chest with every sip. I was told it was Gourmet Coffee's Mountain-grown Arabica, one of my faves since late college.

Try their cuppa-joe with BK's NY Cheesecake or Apple Pie. If you have a sweet tooth, have their sundae or Hershey's choc candy pies instead. Whichever -- the coffee is good, so it won't matter. 

I would have it anytime over the coffee of my all-time fave fast food restaurant (because I used to work there and wolf down those two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun and large fries, with a sundae for dessert, when health and fitness were not yet life's challenges), which differs from branch to branch, and from crew shift to crew shift, even if quality and set standards are two of their business mantras.