16 November 2009

(Soy) Peppermint Mocha, Starbucks

It's here! It's back! Starbucks heard our wishes and hopes and gave us back the joy of Peppermint Mocha. I've had only this since I heard about the return. Will I go through the entire process of collecting stamps for the diary that will probably run out? 

The Starbucks diary is a secret fetish because I got one every single year but never got to use any of them beyond March. Well, once till June. Don't ask me why -- maybe it's the size, then when they made a skinnier version, it competed with a really fab notebook I got that Christmas. Maybe it's the lined pages. Still, I couldn't help but feel compelled to get one again this year -- sucker, I know -- because I like that it's covered with fabric and especially after the cute hard-sell of the barista: "We brought back the coffee coupons!"

Soon I will have for a collection, partially-filled in Starbucks diaries. One day, I will use them for telephone messages, scratch paper or as a scrapbook. Who knows? In the meantime, I will have a Peppermint Soy Mocha as much as I can this Holiday season. Then, I'll start hoping and wishing for the joy of Gingerbread Latte for next year.

07 November 2009

Brewed Coffee and Cappuccino, Mary Grace Cafe

Not once, in all the hours I've spent at Mary Grace Cafe -- for a meeting or to drop in to pass the time or take a break at any -- was never disappointed with the coffee. The brew is rich, bold, and flavorful -- such a comfort.

Each place is cozy in a country-homey way, even if their tables are  a bit too closely-spaced (that's not why it's cozy). I can't complain about the service. The wait staff is well-trained, friendly, and solicitous. Well, orders could come a little quicker, but who's in a hurry? The pastry? They all go fabulously with the coffees. Go for the apple pie -- one of the best I've tasted -- the rich ensaymadas and the signature melt-in-your-mouth cheese rolls. The sansrival is a bit on the sweet side, so I can get my fix elsewhere.

If there should ever be a day that you couldn't take another coffee, you should try their hot chocolate. Rich, dark, and so good for your soul.

06 November 2009

Brewed Coffee, Cafe Azul, Ateneo de Manila

Yep, they're one and the same. Sweet Inspirations, that Katipunan, Loyola Heights landmark and fave student hangout, is the coffee shop-restaurant behind Cafe Azul in Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo gym.

I always order coffee there, no need to move to another place for that after a meal. I also always have coffee there when I have a slice of their NY Cheesecake, a 'super pwede-na' not-necessarily-gourmet-or-the-best-in-the-metro good cheesecake, which I happen to love. 

That they are a no-pretenses cafe (group) that serves good food with student-friendly prices has always been a dependable fact. For under P150.00 you get a satisfying brewed coffee-NY cheesecake fix. While waiting for someone at the Ateneo, while taking a break from the traffic along Katipunan, to end one of their tummy busting meals (esp their famous mongolian barbeque), but please, not after working out at the Moro Lorenzo Gym.

Their coffee is always freshly brewed, very good, and for the price, I'm not complaining. When I'm in any of the two branches, I can fool myself into thinking I'm a student busy with a book instead of a mom waiting for her kids to come out of school or just needing a coffee-cheesecake fix.

Brewed Coffee, Cafe Breton

I love crepes. It's one dessert I can really whip up well, and the first I ever presented my then-future in-laws with. Easy to prepare comfort food. For me, they're better than pancakes.

So it's really a treat to have good old dependable Cafe Breton for both yummy crepes and excellent coffee. Is it a wonder they're a hit wherever they set up shop? Their coffee is strong but very good... freshly made all the time. There's also something about the dishes they serve the food and warm beverages in that add to the comfort feeling. 

A perfect combination for me, which I order all the time -- La Pinay and Breton's house brew.

House Brew, Cravings

I had the opportunity to try the coffee at Cravings again, this time during an interview over brunch. Without mentioning my previous bad experience and that I review coffees I get to taste, I ordered the basic brew. It was steaming, it smelled fantastic, and tasted really good. I just needed to get a refill to find out if it was a fluke. 

Nope, Cravings coffee as I remember it -- prior to my bad experience last year -- is as good as ever. My bad experience before was probably the fluke.

One more fab update is CCA, the school owned by the same group, just opened a branch in Eastwood, where they offer the same culinary programs, and -- ta-dah! -- food writing and coffee courses! Worth checking out, and definitely good news for me. 

What can I say -- I'm easy to please :))

29 October 2009

Brewed Coffee, Cafe Xocolat

Yep, I went back, yet again. And ordered coffee, yet again. How many times do I have to tell myself: Order. The. Specialty. Will I ever learn?! **

I ordered the basic brew this time. The caramel/dulce de leche and whipped cream in their Cafe Panna y Leche stole the spotlight from the flavor of coffee (not that it wasn't good. If you like your coffee sweet. If you like it warm, almost room temp. Ok, I'll stop.), I just had to find out if their coffee was really good. I opted for the house brew over the Cordillera variant.

So! I love the place -- an old early 70's split level house with many familiar details that that just brings back so many happy memories. As a friend once tried to rationalize, every other one of us who grew up in the 60's and 70's must've had a home or a relative's home with at least one detail in it that's found in this place. I love the colorful Moroccan-ish lamps -- I've been wanting to buy one and here at the Loyola Heights branch they have over a dozen! Unfair! I love the signs they put up. I love the furniture, the earthenware cups and plates. I love that they're a wifi hotspot.

But the coffee brought visuals of ash to mind. Oh, but I like the place! I therefore make the resolution to have their famous chocolate concoctions the next time I visit, because I will definitely go back to Cafe Xocolat, just not for coffee.

** note: see my previous Xocolat review.

22 October 2009

Cafe con Leche y Pana, Xocolat

Being in any Xocolat branch has its unique feel, it's so tempting to spend hours there just absorbing the smells, transported somewhere else by the character of the mismatched colorful warm and arts and crafts-y decor, and surrounded by the relaxed and home-y comfort brought on by the people who love being there. You just have to join them and feel like a chocolate lover yourself. Oh, and the Loyola Heights branch I am especially drawn to has wifi, yay! I can stay there for hours!

Now for the coffee... They have quite a selection, should chocolate not be the thing that lured you in. I asked for help in choosing a good one, and the person behind the counter recommended, with such conviction, the owner's favorite -- the Cafe con Leche y Pana, a dulce de leche concoction. 

It took some time to prepare, but it did look pretty and very rich. I loved the cup and saucer, they so matched the place. It was just warm, warm enough to drink bottoms up, if you were inclined to. But it was good, if you like sweet coffee. But I don't. The coffee got lost in the sweetness of the cream and dulce de leche, it was almost like blended leche flan. And it was just warm. 

I went back another time and ordered it again -- I know, right? -- and it still took some time, and it was just warm (should I just say room temp?). But I love it there, I would go back another time, sure. For a quiet chat with a friend, working on deadlines, time alone, for the comfort food, the reasonable prices, but you know what I resolved to do --- get chocolate when it's the specialty of the place!

27 June 2009

Mountain-grown Arabica, Boyd Coffee Co, Philippines

I haven't been drinking a lot of coffee out lately -- save for the Starbucks fix I get when I have to wake up while shopping or in a meeting -- because I have the best brewed coffee right here at home. Mountain-grown Arabica, as fresh as I can get it, the way I want it. A 1/2kg bag for under P250!

I got it from Boyds Coffee Philippines, where I saw for myself just how fresh a bag of ground coffee beans go into a bag ordered. It's a thrill for a coffee lover like myself to make a trip to their Coffee Factory-Store on Sheridan St., Mandaluyong, because I get to sample their coffees before I decide on which blend to purchase. I have been fortunate enough to have owner/coffee expert Robert Francisco join me a couple of times to demo, give a short lecture, some tips, and take a whiff, s sip (actually, more of a slurp), swish it around my mouth, and ingest the different variants on hand. Never knew coffee can be fruity, woodsy, etc. More of this coffee tasting bit can be experienced in their coffee workshops at the end of each month.

More reasons to get my coffee from them, from http://www.boydphil.com/about.htm:

  • Boyds coffee beans are specially selected, picked, and graded by hand. They are meticulously chosen from only the best supplies the country has to offer.
  • Coffee is always freshly roasted and made especially for YOU. Our beans are roasted locally and packed only upon order of our clients to assure fresh quality beans.
  • Our coffee is roasted by batch. This procedure allows the beans to roast evenly to guarantee that each bean is as flavorful as the next.
  • As part of our quality control, we clean and calibrate our roasters, scales, grinders, and machines daily and randomly cup our batches of coffee to ensure our customers of the best quality coffee.
  • As part of our daily ritual, all staff drink coffee from what has been recently roasted.
Then there is the other treat I get when I want more coffee from Boyd's. They deliver! Fabness!!! (632) 746.3253; 746BOYD.