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 :)

Organic Pour-over Coffee at Wild Flour, the Podium Mall

Finally, Wild Flour opened somewhere a bit closer to where I live. It's easy to spot - right next to the ground floor escalators, where Cafe (Deli) France used to be.

A bit small, if you ask me, considering how the Wild Flour restaurant in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, is always packed (each time I pass it).

The good thing is that the place is so fabulously decorated, it doesn't feel cramped. More like cozy. You won't hear what the people next table are saying, and you won't have servers' elbows hitting you as they whizz by. A bottle of cold water gets regularly replaced, so you won't feel like they're rushing you to make room for the next batch of customers. That was great because I was there with a good friend and we had lots of catching up to do.

It was bustling with a quick turnover of customers from 4pm onward. Fortunately, we scored a table for two inside. We shared a grilled gruyere cheese sandwich which came with an arugula salad on the side, and we also each got a glass of merlot. Fab and light and perfect for our overloaded list of topics for the day *happy sigh*

Now for the coffee. My friend, who was coffee'd out for the day, got a decaf, and upon her recommendation, I ordered one of their pour-overs, the Organic brew.

Okay, I don't know if the barista actually poured the hot water over the freshly-ground coffee beans (hence the name, right?), but the coffee was served in a tall stainless steel (or silver?) french press. One order had enough for a refill, which I loved! Just to add a bit of sweetness, my friend and I shared a large chocolate chip cookie.

The coffee was very good: just the right strength and color. I almost always take my coffee with a splash of creamer, milk, or soya, but after a sip, I thought it could do with just a drop for color (to trick my mind, haha). I loved the place, the experience, the food, the wine, and the coffee. Another visit is absolutely called for. Now I have a new favorite place.

All about coffee... and tea ;-) A huge coffee machine sits on a place of honor on the beverage prep bar.

Leading to the stairs. Unfortunately, no 2nd floor
for more diners; just a stock room.

A lot of wall art on coffee even if they have
quite a selection of wines lining up the walls, too.

I asked the barista what coffee he used.
He presented me with this pack to photograph.

Coffees and Bars

A lot of things happen in bars. Many times (well, till the advent of mobile phone cameras and social networks), what happens in bars ought to stay in bars. But, these places do churn out happy AND inebriated peeps more often than not. So a coffee list, or even just one coffee in the beverage list should stand proud among the happy drinks. Get the happy people sobered up a bit and rehydrated. Water and coffee should be the "one for the road" of choice. In an ideal world, that is.

Some bars are in that ideal world. I've had some of the best-tasting coffees, freshly-ground and out of pro espresso machines or served in french presses in bars. Saves you the trip to an open Starbucks or settling for a nearby 7-11 for a quick pick-me-up before the drive home. Yep. And here's a toast to them and some pics of those I've had in the recent past. I'll be adding more to these after I find those mobile phone photos :)

Fred's Revolucion in Cubao X

Mandarin Hotel, Manila

Buddha Bar, Makati