19 August 2015

My fave coffees at Craft Katipunan, still.

Months after my first visit to Craft Katipunan, I enjoyed a series of coffee dates with my friends, meetings, family brunches, and solo time(out) there. Sometime between all that I was assigned to write about the surge of specialty and/or 3rd wave coffee places for a women's fashion and lifestyle monthly glossy magazine. That was a dream assignment for me, but there was a catch: out of the several, I was only given a spread (two full pages) for both the story and photos. I had to choose just three or four. I ended up writing about 5 that I could visit within my deadline, but squeezed in a sidebar for the other shops I couldn't (there have been shops opening almost every month since the "re-birth" of coffee). Naturally, I included Craft Katipunan.

An excerpt of what I wrote:

"You know your business is a hit if it survives in Katipunan, the area where a concept is tried out, tested, and either approved or discarded as “loser” by the snobbery one can ironically get from the open-to-adventure academic communities of the area. Since its opening, and in spite of its relatively high price points, this franchise of Craft in New Manila, owned by Mark Jao, his wife Jennifer, and his sister, has been checked out and apparently given a stamp of approval. Probably because it’s cozy, or because they have a full menu beyond coðee, and even a smoking area outside, butdefinitely because they serve very good cof- fee—the place is almost always filled, even on school holidays and weekends"
note: Check out "Coffee Crawl" in Metro Magazine, June 2014 issue.

Mark Jao, one of Craft Katipunan's owners
My husband's favorite all-day breakfast dish
The place has since proven that it's a good coffee place because it's still around, still gets filled out, and has a lot of followers on instagram. I enjoy their iced Americano when it's sweltering or after a bike ride or long walk, and their pourovers when I go there for a quiet couple of hours with a book.

Craft Katipunan's Americano

Craft's Pourover, I think this was the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

I love staying at the bar when I'm alone.

Iced Americano, which I usually have in their al fresco area on cooler evenings.

The way the pallet wall looks now.

Other coffee places have opened in the area, so there's no doubt the group's timing was right to open in the neighborhood.  Others have closed, so there's this other thought that it's not just about coffee, timing and location, but about a certain mix I'm still trying to put a finger on. 

Javajiving with Craft Katipunan's Mark Jao.

Add caption

Craft Coffee Revolution, please stay in Katipunan.

Americanos and Pourovers at Craft Katipunan

Another Throwback.

The mother of the Third Wave specialty coffee in the Philippines (as we know it) spawned another baby. I was told, during one of my visits at Yardstick, that Craft was opening a branch in my neighborhood. What a treat! I was at that time, really tired of the bitter versions of some cafes in the area and the only options at that time - Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.  Craft Katipunan's opening was something I looked forward to. This was over a year ago.

Above street level, along Esteban Abada Street, Loyola Heights,
known as the Katipunan Area.
On that first visit, my sister and I waited for the doors to open one morning - we were that eager. The style of their interiors was a new thing then, but every other coffee or all-day breakfast or comfort food restaurant that opened soon after adapted that 'pinterest-y' vibe. Not that I grew tired of it, because it works. 
We were the first customers that day. This pallet wall now holds a variety of art works by several new or independent artists.

One page of Craft Katipunan's coffee list.

We were so excited to try their coffee, of course (never having been to Craft Revolution yet then. A crime, I know). The list was extensive, but I decided to go for my favorite pourover, and picked the Brazil Yellow Bourbon. Then another after that - the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (which became a favorite in my successive visits).

Since it was relatively early (like an hour from lunch), we were so relieved to know that they also served food. Not just cakes and pastries, but a selection of hot food.

They have an extensive food menu, too.

On my second cup. Obviously happy with our brunch.
At that time, I decided - I love Craft Katipunan and I had better run to the mothership and check it out.

Coffee Tales and The Curator's Coffee and Cocktails

Tomorrow is a Thursday, and as most of social media will be abuzz with throwbacks, I am reminded of all the drafts I have lined up in this blog, and that they are - essentially - throwbacks. Not one to waste any coffee story, I will once again (ONCE AGAIN!!! Never give up, never surrender!) revive my coffee blog; this time I will intersperse with throwbacks of my own, thus doing something about my photo storage as apple keeps reminding me to.  I will begin where I left of.

Long ago, in my coffee lifetime, I was told of a place called, "Craft". It was generating so much buzz, I should've headed out and tried their specialty brew. In fact, friends who knew I love coffee, wondered why I never rushed over there in the first place. That time, I was in a coffee rut.

I heard that Craft was put up by a group of coffee lovers. It was a fantastic concept place for learning, cupping, experiencing, and enjoying the brew. Unfortunately, that maiden effort supposedly closed, with the group agreeing to disagree on certain issues or concerns, and part ways (as I was told).

Turns out, it didn't close. The partners did part ways (partly), with two staying with the company, and one continuing onward with his own coffee adventure. Well, you can't expect coffee lovers who are able to, to just pack up and sulk in a corner.

This one member opened his own coffee company, which he calls The Curator. And while the main coffee shop was still undergoing renovation, they opened a counter where award-winning baristas prepared and served coffee, imparting helpful information while doing so. My friend C and I couldn't wait for the opening of the bigger place, so we tried out this counter.

It's located along Gamboa Street in Legazpi Village, Makati. You might miss it because it's inside Archives (Homme et Femme).

Once inside, the enticing aroma of coffee will let you know you have arrived and your brain will start doing all sorts of crazy stuff with its circuitry to let you know that you need some of that coffee you smell.

This is the main counter. It's all they need, apparently.

Don't be deceived by the size. You all know about looks that can be deceiving and great things coming in small packages. Be dazzled, instead by the equipment, if you can manage to snap out of the hypnotic smell of coffee (and sight of fabulous shoes lined up for the taking) surrounds you. At The Curator, multi-awarded baristas Kevin and Mikko (pictured here), make your coffee for you. After the standard - what would you want? what are our options? how do you like your coffee? - we decided to try one of each: full-bodied brazilian and the lighter/fruity/tea-like Ethiopian.

Since this first taste of The Curator, I have visited their renovated digs several times: once to do a story for a glossy magazine, and the rest of the times to have coffee and/or cocktails. 

As one of the partners, David Ong, shared, The Curator turns into a bar after 5pm. From that time onward, one can enjoy their unique alcohol-based concoctions, choosing from just about as many options as they offer with coffee. 

The Curator's David Ong at work

The hand-brewed Espresso


The Curator's Menu

David Ong with a fan ;-)

Love the group, love the vibe, and I love how the group's business continued to bloom. And that leads to the story of EDSA - Beverage Design Group. Another entry, but yep, same people.