Sausages, coffee, chorizo omelette—it’s good, even if it caters to millennials
One day, perhaps in my lifetime, I’ll understand what single-origin coffee is all about, and why it should matter. In the same vein, I know I’m going to get whacked by whisky lovers, but while I love my 16-year-old Lagavulin and a few other Betadine-scented single malts that are on my shelves, I’m just as likely to enjoy those staples of politicians and drunken Chinese uncles at weddings: Johnny Walker Blue and Hennessy XO. (I may as well start wearing alligator-leather shoes and a belt with a big “H” on it, but I think I may have officially entered full-on tito mode.)
These are, of course, blends, and to the whisky snob, they are inferior to single malts; just as Illy coffee comes in a bombproof can and is really quite expensive—even considering that the coffee has made its way from unnamed estates in the third world to be roasted and finished in Italy, which is associated with fine coffee even if it does not produce a single grain.
Single-origin coffees come ideally from a single estate, but can also come from a single region or single country, depending on how loosely the marketing team decides to brand it.
Real single-estate coffee can cost quite a bit, and the key element here is traceability: the certainty that what you are drinking comes from a certain estate in, say, Ethiopia, and that despite variations due to climate conditions from year to year, it will taste of the produce of that farm.
Like it or not—there’s more of a chance you won’t—blends are created to satisfy a wide audience, while single-origin coffee is, like single malts, of a particular character which must be matched with the consumer.
Aside from traceability and issues such as sustainability and the welfare of the farmers, it comes down to exclusivity: You’re looking for products from a particular plot of land that taste a certain way.
On most mornings I’m just fumbling for that one button on my bean-to-cup coffee maker that will boot up my operating system for the day: I would love to have a creamy, foamy café crème the way they make it in Paris, but most mornings anything remotely smooth and highly caffeinated will do just fine. By afternoon I’m ready for my second caffeine fix in the form of tea, and this I’m highly selective about.
A restaurant opened near me recently called Single Origin, which, not surprisingly, serves single-origin coffee.
I still don’t understand the fuss about estates, no matter how many I’ve tried, but fortunately they’ll deign to serve a nice latte or espresso as well.
The crowd is young, consisting mainly of the so-called “digital nomads” working on their laptops. Most nomadic people of the world move about in search of food-related resources, the others in search of trade.
Digital nomads apparently move about in search of wifi. As our favorite telephone carrier informs us, the strongest signal is at home. So why not stay there? Or in the office at the end of a T1 line?
How do you concentrate in a café? Is this why they have to buy those Kickstarter-funded earbuds that promise to shut out the world? So many questions.
Surprisingly, though, for a place that caters to millennials, the food is not bad at all. I’ve had its breakfast dishes. It does excellent charcuterie: Its sausages are very good, corned beef quite passable, and it has a gentle hand with its eggs.
An item on the menu is only slightly overpriced but consistently good, a chorizo omelette that is badly in need of some carbohydrates on the plate (extra bread is P45).
Single Origin is finally getting a crowd rather than being known as the place to go to when Dean & DeLuca next door gets too full.
It’s a more intimate feel, the seats are more comfortable and the service is better.
When it comes to price, no one, not even Wildflour, can beat Dean & DeLuca’s sky-high pricing for a casual café, so there’s that, too.
But just because I don’t understand the intricacies of single-origin coffee, or understand why I should care that much about it, doesn’t mean that coffee lovers shouldn’t.
I’ve been a proponent of a proper tea drinking culture, hoping it will finally flourish here. While I’m realistic enough to know that’s not happening anytime soon, I would love to see coffee connoisseurship go mainstream. Sly Samonte is, unfortunately (for us, not for him), ensconced in his hideaway in La Union, while David Ong is more interested in spirits at the moment, it seems.
So the time is right for an establishment to come in and offer consistently interesting coffee experiences. In the Poblacion area, both Tilde and Single Origin are strong contenders.
I may not quite understand it, but I give the movement my full support. —CONTRIBUTED
Single Origin, Edades Towers, Rockwell Center, Makati City; tel. 7726259
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