Quantcast
Latest Stories

The best-tasting cup of coffee I have ever had–find it at the corner of Broadway and E. Rodriguez

I can’t describe how good it is, except that it tastes a bit like Günter Grass

By

CRAFT Coffee Workshop COURTESY OF SLY SAMONTE

This is a bit of a departure for me, not just in topic and from my usual restaurant coverage, but from my usual Makati haunts.

Craft Coffee Workshop is not difficult to find, but tucked away at the corner of Broadway and E. Rodriguez, one wouldn’t stumble upon it unexpectedly. It’s small, independent and everything and everyone inside is intensely fanatical about coffee.

Coffee snobbery frightens me, in the same way that wine snobbery does: I’m afraid of being found out for the fraud that I am. Like an art poseur caught unawares at a museum, I take refuge in the mantra of “Well, I’m no expert but I know what I like.” When I’m asked to comment on a wine I’ve been given to taste, I parry with a literary reference. “Have read any Günter Grass?”

“No, I’m afraid I haven’t.”

“Well, if Günter Grass were a wine, it would be just like this. Günter Grass crossed with a bit of Jeffrey Eugenides.”

Complex world

Just as I take shelter in the predictability of the ubiquitous Rhône wines when faced with an extensive wine list of exotic and daunting choices, the comforting familiarity of branded coffee like Illy and Lavazza have been there to allay my insecurities in the face of the complex world of bouquets, acidity, body and the multitudes of infinite variables that are computed, analyzed and discussed as you sip of a cup from the Third Wave of Coffee.

This term refers to the attempt to bring artisanal sensibilities to commercialized espresso bars with their exceptionally gregarious baristas, which are the second wave of coffee—the first being, presumably, all that has gone before, i.e., simply drinking it.

Emblematically, the first thing you see upon entering Craft Coffee Workshop is a large roaster. Roasting one’s own beans, creating one’s own blends and sourcing the green beans as directly as possible are basic tenets of this movement.

 

Guilty secret

Raising coffee to an art form is something that can breed both snobs and geeks, and I’m happy to report that the team at Craft Coffee Workshop, led by Sly Samonte, is of the latter. Once I had confessed to them the guilty secret that I used a fully automatic bean-to-cup machine to make my morning cup of very milky and sugary coffee, he set about making a cup of cappuccino for me and my wife, talking us through the steps, patiently answering questions.

He may have given this spiel hundreds of times, but he had the kind of fanatical zealot’s gleam in his eyes, the kind I get when some unfortunate soul makes the mistake of asking me questions about tube amplifiers or Vespas.

It might have been all a bit too much, had he not produced the best-tasting cup of coffee I have ever had: silky smooth, just milky enough to feel rich in the mouth, but with an unmistakable punch of coffee aroma permeating through it all, the opposite of most espresso bars where you are bathed in a wonderfully promising scent of coffee, but are then presented with a tepid wash of barely flavored milk under a net of bubbles.

Slow brew

But this was only the beginning. We had to try the Clover, we were told. To try this, we had to move a few seats down the bar, and a few notches further into the world of coffee geekery.

The Clover is a very expensive ($11,000) piece of machinery that is like a very complicated and precise French press; it gives you every bit of flavor that a bean has to offer, extracted and presented to you unadulterated. It was given to us in a wine glass. This one seemed a bit tame after the explosion of aroma in the espresso, more like a kind of delicate coffee-flavored tea. “It’s a bit mild,” I said, not knowing what I was getting into.

Then I must try a slow brew, Sly said, and we were whisked to the far end of the coffee bar that ran down the length of the shop. We were presented with an innocent-looking cup of black coffee that, like all the other coffees in the shop, did not need any sugar and tasted properly of coffee without being overly bitter or acidic.

After a few sips, I was grabbing people by the collar and telling them, at great length, about the novel I was planning to write, which, at that moment, seemed fully formed in my head. By the time I reached the bottom of the cup, my eyes were rolling in their sockets and Ihadtowritethatnovelnownownow! and so we raced back to Makati going around corners on two wheels.

Shabu-crazed bus drivers took one look at me and pulled over to the side to give way and let us whiz by. It was well past midnight before I got to sleep; my wife went to bed at 8 p.m., the following day.

What it was and how it was made, I have no recollection. I can only suggest, in no uncertain terms, that if you care at all about coffee or even if you don’t, you owe it to yourself to make a trip there and try a cup for yourself.

I can’t describe how good it is, except that it tastes a bit like Günter Grass.

Craft Coffee Workshop is at 66 Broadway Ave., New Manila, Quezon City; tel. 5703464


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Coffee , Craft Coffee Workshop , Food , Günter Grass

  • rosaddiaq

    11,000 dollars to brew your coffee? Wow! I was not a coffee drinker until I went on fieldwork in the rainforest of Sumatra ( Bengkulu ). All the locals in the field party drink their morning coffee while I sip my ovaltine or Milo. Finally, I tried their “kopi bubuk” ( coffee grounds are left swimming in your cup ), and I was hooked. Many villagers roast and grind their own coffee, sell it cheaply. Oftentimes, we can smell the aroma and are tempted to stop and try. Now, my favorite is Starbuck’s Sumatra ( I read that the late Steve Jobs also preferred it ) although I never drink it there. I buy whole beans, grind and brew it myself. Every morning. If you are in Jakarta, buy Excelso beans instead of Starbucks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000195137477 Jonathan Choi

      Guess that’s the cost of precision (and rarity, as Starbucks bought out the company that made the Clover machine). Although the price to admission doesn’t have to be that steep – similar results can be achieved by other manual methods that give you full control over the temperature, agitation, and dwell time.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • ‘Dry spell’ delayed, thanks to busted valve
  • At 77, Erap has Easter treat for Manila cops but keeps City Hall folk in agony
  • Joy Belmonte defends council, waste-to-energy tech
  • House bill seeks special body to manage, protect Manila Bay
  • No Lenten break for QC thieves
  • Sports

  • Tottenham beats Fulham 3-1 in Premier League
  • Martino defends Messi, takes blame for Barca fail
  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • A principled choice
  • Faith expressed in art
  • Editorial cartoon, April 20, 2014
  • Global Nation

  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
    Marketplace