16 February 2011

Batangueno-style Coffee, Kape de Malarayat

that's steam from the coffee migling with the fog close to the mountain top
I've had Batangas-grown coffee before (mostly Barako and Mountain-grown Arabica), but it was only recently that I got to first sample how Batangas folk had their coffee: freshly picked beans, roasted and ground but traditionally prepared by heating up the grains with water in an open pot, and served already sweetened. This was during a media outing sponsored by the Cafe Alamid group (the people behind the popular Civet coffee), R.O.X., and Moster Centaur, during which we were given a fresh insight on the exotic Cafe Alamid (more on that later), and treated twice with the farmers' very own Kape de Malarayat. A blend of Robusta, Liberica, and Arabica Exelsa, grown and picked from the mountains in their "backyards", this coffee is produced with love and hard work by the Malarayat Coffee Farmers and Consumers Cooperative with help and guidance from the Alamid group.

Looks like an easy leisurely trek from here, but that it wasn't.
My first cup of Batangas-style brew was at a small camp near the top of Mt. Malarayat in Lipa, Batangas (about an hour and a half-drive from the Fort in Taguig), where we were feted with a sumptuous reward of barbequed skewered pork, bangus stuffed with tomatoes and onions, and roasted veggies, after our 45-minute challenging trek up. By the time we were enjoying our lunch, I spotted the coffee already being cooked and stirred in a large open pot (we were at least 20 that day), over the campfire, and ladled through a sieve, into our disposable cups. Because I rarely sweeten my coffee (I usually have mine with some soymilk or powdered non-dairy coffee creamer), I was surprised at how sweet it was. I actually (ignorantly) thought it had something to do with a distinct property of freshly-picked, freshly roasted, freshly-ground, freshly-prepared local coffee. It didn't matter much to me at that time, since my last coffee was a Starbucks soy mocha before we left. It was time for another dose.

After once again dealing with the slippery, rocky walk, this time down the mountain, we were taken to where the farmers process the coffee, in the nearby Barangay Sto. Nino. There, once again, to my surprise, we had sweet black coffee. That's where I learned Batangas peeps (Batangenos) take their coffee black but sweetened. Although I prefer unsweetened coffee and won't see a change on this soon, this style tends to grow on you. Or was it because I got up so early for this junket, I just needed my fix more? Whatever, I just had to have another cup. It can be delish.

I got to take home a pack to enjoy at home, yayness!

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