30 November 2013

A 5-oz Legaspi at Yardstick Coffee

 The tip came from some insiders among Manila's coffee lovers, those who knew about good coffee, with some making a living from it. Of course my coffee buddy C and I had to check it out. We decided that if we were going to meet up for coffee, since we love the beverage, we should make an expedition of it - in pursuit of the best coffee places in Manila or the Philippines (who knows?)

We put two relatively new places on our list a few afternoons ago and started with the one she hadn't tried out yet - Yardstick Coffee.

No main or lighted signage up yet, but we just knew it was that new coffee place we were looking for when we drove by it. Then we saw this sign that confirmed it and we were all set. 

First impressions: 
The place was huge, clean, and well-lit. Yardstick has mostly white walls, and an expanse of it all bare, opposite the main counter, a change from the usual framed coffee/food/lifestyle illustrations or murals (I couldn't help thinking: does it serve as a canvass for something new and hip, or...? Possibilities were beginning to excite me. What?!) They had several wooden tables, a couple of long high ones, benches, and stools neatly distributed throughout the space, without any particular configuration or "cafe-style" layout. There was also a notable absence of plush upholstery, easy chairs, or dim drop lights, yet it had such an inviting vibe to chill out, work, or just have a day's dose of caffeine in. I saw a conference room-looking area, glassed in from the rest of the place. 

Although the menu board wasn't quite done yet, they had their specialty coffees, hot and cold beverages, and pastries colorfully listed on chalk boards. Before we could even get confused or overwhelmed, one of the young-ish people around the counter, obviously one of the owners, approached us to ask what we would care to have. He listened, asked a few questions, then gave us options. No heavy suggestive selling, no preachy (as one friend would describe it) or condescending tone and jargon. My friend and I decided to each have a black (or were they hand brews?), but in different blends.

The counter with the temporary menu board, a display of coffee paraphernalia,
a toaster, and the ref. To the left is the coffee prep area.

She preferred the sound of a brew with fruity and slight acidic tones, so she got the Project Y. I wanted something with a more full-bodied profile, so I got the Legaspi blend. Another partner (who introduced himself as Kevin), took our orders and told us more about the coffee we chose to have. While watching our coffees being prepared by the barista, we learned that all hot beverages came in standard 5-oz cups. Excited as we were to carry off our coffee with us, we decided to pick our seats first, because there were at least 4 other table groupings occupied. We chose one of the tables positioned at the center.

The same guy who met us when we entered helped bring our cups of coffees, a bottle of water, a couple of glasses, and some almond milk, which we requested for. He introduced himself as Andre (Chanco), one of the partners, who, with Kevin and Jessica, own and run the place. They're coffee lovers with professional training and experience to match, who began planning the business about 2-1/2 years ago, started the Concierge (their portable coffee service) at Apartment 1B in Rockwell last September, and finally opened their Yardstick Coffee doors, "to walk-ins just last Monday or Tuesday (must have been 18th or 19th November 2013)." They knew each other in grade school, then met up and renewed their friendship while at university in Singapore. Although they had help from a barista (and probably other members of the business), they personally handle the roasting, cupping, man the counters, coffee station, and go around to chat with customers, themselves.

The taste test:
And here's my Legaspi (named so as a tribute to the area, i.e., Legaspi Village, and because it's something that's more 'approachable', according to Andre) - a blend of pulpled natural Brazil Cerrado (40%), and 2 wet-hulled coffees from Sumatra - Tobing Estate (30%) and Ratawali Valley (30%). I was so happy with it. Not very bitter, nothing that will make chest hairs sprout, but really full-bodied and cocoa-ish.  It was just 5-oz but it was 5-oz of excellent coffee. No refills necessary.

I got a taste of my friend's Project Y coffee, too. It's basically 50% Ratawali and 30% of semi-washed Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, and 20% of a different Brazil from Alta Mogiana. Although I'm not partial to the acidic profile in coffees, this one I liked just as much as mine Legaspi. It changed my mind about acidic, fruity, etc., characteristics of coffees, which came as a red flag to me before, for "sour with a, uhm, sour aftertaste." I guess if the coffee's roasted right, ground on demand, and done right, there wouldn't be any need for milk or creamer to temper whatever strong characteristic over-dominated the brew.   

We were told that the blends would change once in a while. "The idea behind every blend is that there is a designated taste profile rather than a specific composition. With the Legaspi it will always be chocolate-nutty, more approachable. For Project Y, it's always going to be fruity, (citrusy)," Andre added.

We also learned from Andre that they also bottled, crowned, and sold their own cold coffee, that they are distributors of coveted espresso machines, La Marzocco and Rocket Espresso, and other coffee paraphernalia. Oh, and not to forget - coffee in Yardstick also means they serve beer - made with coffee. As it says in the bottle, "a collaborated brew by Katipunan Craft Ales and Yardstick Coffee."

My friend and I were so pleased to have made the trip to find Yardstick Coffee happy with this visit, we're planning another one soon. We have a list of coffees to try, the beer, and probably attend a cupping session soon. I'm not a coffee snob nor do I pretend to be an expert. I just know I love coffee, I enjoy it when it's good, and I can tell when it's not (many times, I drink it anyway) - and I can confidently say, Yardstick has excellent coffee.

There's definitely more to learn from them, more to write about. Till then, if you want to experience a not-so-usual coffee break or some 'creative' time away from the office desk, look for this sign along the sidewalk of Esteban St. near corner Rufino St., Legaspi Village, Makati. 

29 November 2013

Instagram and Tumblr got Still JavaJiving

Ah, the convenience of advancing technology and the new media. It's awesome on one hand, but on the other - it made posting my coffee pics and short reviews so easy, I just kept pressing the snooze button on this blog till I got such a pile-up of coffee experiences and photos I was planning to share.

I'm going to do a feature on the best ones (promise!), but in the meantime, I'll just let instagram (and tumblr), with my handful of followers, take the rap for my delinquency.

What I can do for now is share some snapshots that I first uploaded via those oh-so-easy sharing apps. Hang on for a bit, because I'll be a better java jiver. I have at least a couple of new coffee places I just can't wait to share with you, plus the rest of the pics that have piled up. Very soon.

Stackers in Eastwood Mall

Gourmet-to-Go inside Rustan's Fresh Supermarkets

Packaging helps a lot. A present from my friend,
from Siem Reap.

French Baker. I love the presentation and the brownie on the side.

RUB Ribs, no other pic, sorry.

Pancake House. Sometimes very strong, sometimes not.

Stacy's in Capitol Golf. Nice country/vintage-y place. 

Their chai tea is fabulous, and so's their coffee. Not bad at all.

Fleur De Lys, Tomas Morato, Q.C. Very strong brew.
You'll need all the powdered creamer that comes with it.

Brewed Coffee from Le Maison, Cebu City, Cebu.
Strong brew, lovely restaurant.
18 Days in Cash & Carry, Manila. More about this stall later.

Solaire Hotel. Hotels should ALWAYS have good coffee.

IHOP's refillable brew. Diner-ish.

Il Padrino in Robinson's Galleria. Very affordable for good coffee.

Good way to end a hearty meal. Batangas Brew
from Corazon, East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong.
North Park. Yes, they have coffee. Already with milk,
served with simple syrup on the side.

MoMo, Eastwood Mall. Very strong, full-bodied,
almost cocoa-ish.

Chateau 1771. Sugar and cream needed, added,
and it's still that dark.

Sci-Fi Cafe. The experience of dining in the midst of
all those superheroes was better.

Soy Gingerbread latte, my first Starbucks Holiday2013 coffee.
Nutmeg powder beat the coffee into my mouth. 

19 August 2013

French Pressed Coffee at Fred's Revolucion Bar

Where to go to sober up?

How many times have we had to drop by a cafe or a late hour restaurant to sober up a bit after happy hour or a night in a bar with friends? Bars would prepare what customers go there for - - the all-around fave ice-cold beer, wine, smooth cocktails, and some light yet flavorful dish to go with those drinks. Some have ventured to offer  heavy meals to fill one's stomach with before giving it some happy splash. Very thoughtful. How many, though, have thought about the right brew to give a customer before he/she leaves for home... or wherever?

Fred's Revolucion's  co-owner's happy crow: "Of course we have coffee!" That answer never sounded so delightful. The thought that the hubby and I weren't going to need for an open 'Starbucks' for that all-important night cap, to park yet another time when all I want to do is go home after a night out for some happy-happy.

They usually serve freshly ground local coffee in a french press, and it's usually good. They know beer and they know coffee, these Fred's Revoluccion peeps.

24 May 2013

EDSA Shangri-La Hotel's Caf E

The program was about to begin in a media event I attended recently when someone from my table rushed back from the dessert buffet and quipped, "You know they value coffee when there's an espresso machine at the buffet, not brewed coffee coming from a tall dispenser." Okay, I paraphrased it. But that was the essence of what he said.

I've had nasty tasting coffee coming from a lot of those de rigueur event buffet dispensers. The contents may have been brewed but the coffee's left to stand for some time. Still, it being an event held at an EDSA Shangri-La Hotel ballroom, and knowing the hotel serves good coffee in their various outlets, I decided to have one.
Brewed coffee sourced from the stainless steel dispenser,
poured from a kettle, with a splash of fresh milk.

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't excellent, either. One shouldn't really expect an excellent cup from those huge stainless thingies, even when they're served to you from a smaller kettle if you request a cup from your table. 

After the event, I met up with a friend, EDSA Shangri-La's Director of Communications Ouie Bedelles, in a coffee place inside the FullyBooked store outside the hotel (meaning they have their own separate entrance). I ordered a brewed coffee, which came out of a coffee machine, had a wee splash of non-fat milk added, and sat outside to wait for him because seating inside was limited and I wanted fresh air for a change.

Only 1 barista was operating this place

CafE, pronounced, "Caf - Eee."

A splash of nonfat milk...

Voila! Delish Coffee!

The coffee was excellent. Just P100.00. Free wifi was courtesy of the hotel's open service, and with books a few feet away, who would mind waiting a bit? I thought it was pretty generous of the hotel to extend their wifi service to FullyBook's coffee place.

Turns out, as Ouie clarified, CafE was owned and operated by EDSA Shangri-La! 

Which made me ask Ouie to confirm what my table-mate at the event said about the buffet coffee dispensers. This is what I learned: 
  • The coffee served in events - via a dispenser or an espresso machine -  is the choice of the event client. 
  • Coffee machines cost a bit more. 
  • Each EDSA Shangri-La outlet (restaurant/lounge/bar) serves a different variant and brand of coffee.

Now about CafE coffee - because it was that good, I'm definitely considering one of my choice destinations when in the area. I'm also going back soon because I forgot to ask details about the coffee beans they use.

15 May 2013

Singapore Coffee Shorts

So I was lucky enough to visit Singapore again - 2 summers in a row. This time I was with my entire family and more.

(hubby + 4 kids + 2 sisters-in-law)

This time, it was a shorter visit. I expected to have fun, but with eight of us on this trip, I felt coffee was needed more than wine or something stronger to make the most of our brief vacation. I started on the plane.

Well, what do you know? Ordered one on each flight.
Coffee is consistently good on Singapore Airlines :)

This time, also, I knew better than to have a lot of their kopi laced with evaporated or condensed milk. My stomach didn't like the traditional brew much, I discovered almost too late the last time. I did need my shot of caffeine more than the usual, though, so I  bought a pack of what became one of my top fabulous discoveries: Owl Kopi-O. Authentic Straits Asian Coffee. The pack contained a lot of packets.

2-in-1 Coffee bags!
 Not powdered, and it tasted like it was brewed.

Just like the brewed version, it was strong, dense, but delicious. Nothing that will make hair grow on your chest. It was so good, I went to get another pack to take home. Then I saw another variant: Owl's White Coffee Tarik in Hazelnut.

It's 3-in-1and powdered. Delicious just the same.

Thick, creamy, sweetened just right.
The hazelnut flavor was so deliciously distinct.

I should've made a run for more of these to take home, but we had to be on time for our van to take us to Changi Airport. Singaporeans are so strict about time. At least now I know what to hoard the next time I go to the Lion City :)