It was a bizarre and amusing sight: the barista was pouring the brewed coffee I had ordered into a wine glass. In the same way a sommelier would describe a bottle of merlot, he explained to me the flavors of the Ethiopia roast I was about to enjoy—citrusy with hints of jasmine, and light-bodied, almost like tea.
Welcome to Craft Coffee Workshop, where one can enjoy coffee without the frills such as syrup, cream, even sugar. It’s not just a café—“it’s a place where we work on coffee,” says Sly Samonte, one of Craft’s managing partners. “It’s a place where we coffee people come together and work on roasting the coffee, perfecting the different brew methods.”
Craft offers single-origin coffee—beans are sourced from specific regions of different countries. Choose from Brazil Santos Yellow Bourbon, Costa Ricca Rubies Tarrazu, Ethiopia Yirgacheffee Peaberry, Rusty’s Hawaiian and Isla Custom Coffees, Panama Geisha La Esmeralda. Local beans include Atok Benguet, Datu Pepe Miarayon and Mataas Miarayon.
“We only serve specialty coffee, meaning coffee which is enjoyed for the flavor, rather than the functional benefit of the caffeine,” Samonte says.
Samonte, together with managing partners Raymond So and Peter Ong, opened Craft in July 2012. Craft is a Third Wave coffeehouse, or a café that focuses on “enjoying coffee for its flavor, and understanding its origins.”
“In essence, the Third Wave movement of coffee is all about drinking and tasting specialty coffee, as opposed to the Second Wave, which is about making coffee popular,” explains So. “The First Wave is all about the availability of canned ground coffee in supermarkets, which began in the ’30s and ’40s in the US. The term Third Wave started late 2002.”
Aside from roasting and serving specialty coffee, Craft makes it a point to educate its customers. Their baristas, who all come from the Barista Guild of the Philippines, are trained to explain to customers what is in the coffee they serve, as well as the flavors they can expect to taste.
One can also watch the baristas at work as they prepare the orders at the Espresso and Slow Brew Bar. If Samonte, So and Ong aren’t too busy, they do demos themselves.
For the more coffee-literate, you can specify the beans and brewing method you prefer. Craft has over 30 kinds of brewers, and follows four types of brewing methods: boiling, steeping/immersion, pour-over, pressure.
No sugar, please
Do not expect Craft baristas to serve sugar. “We want people to try coffee in an unadulterated manner,” says So. “When you drink a latte, for example, there’s a natural sweetness in the milk and the coffee.”
They serve their brewed coffee in glasses because the glass helps cool the coffee. “You can taste more of the nuances of the coffee as it cools,” says Samonte. “For espresso there are many traditions, so we have different glasses for each tradition.”
The café is only one part of Craft Coffee Workshop. Here, actual coffee workshops are held, such as Coffee Appreciation, Home Barista and Professional Barista.
Coffee Appreciation classes are held every Saturday for groups of four (you can set an appointment through Craft’s Facebook page; a session is at P500/head). Here you will get to taste four to five kinds of coffee brewed in several different ways. “The different contrasts will be highlighted, so you will know how to taste coffee,” says So.
So adds that when you taste coffee, you look for flavor (nutty, chocolatey); aroma (“Do you smell flowers in the drink?”); body (mouth feel, or how long the taste lingers in the mouth); and acidity. “There’s good and bad acidity: Good acidity refers to a citrusy taste, like a lemon, orange, pomelo. Bad acidity is the fermented taste.”
Home Barista workshops are for those who want to learn more about using home coffee equipment, while Professional Barista workshops are for those looking into a career as a barista.
Cupping, or professional coffee-tasting, is included in the Pro Barista classes. “It’s not like coffee appreciation, where the coffee is already prepared. You taste the coffee grounds, to check if you roasted it correctly,” says So. “We actually let people taste bad coffee, to differentiate the good from bad. Bad coffee tastes too bitter, murky, fermented.”
Should you want to experiment in preparing coffee at home, Craft’s cosy nook on Broadway Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City, is filled with a variety of coffee-making equipment one can purchase. So has been selling coffee equipment for the past four years. They also sell barista-standard accessories such as KeepCups in 8-oz and 12-oz sizes. “Only good cafés carry this (KeepCup). They have very strict accreditation guidelines—they wanted to see what the café was like, if we were with them in promoting coffee appreciation,” So says.
Samonte, So and Ong all quit their day jobs to concentrate on Craft. So met Samonte when the latter bought a coffee machine from him. “I often travel to Singapore, and we were talking about coffee experiences there, about single-origin coffee,” says So. “I told him that I wanted to open a roast café.”
From there, the three of them got together and started to work on Craft. After six months of planning, they were ready to open. “We’re very happy that people appreciate what we’re doing,” says So.
Craft Coffee Workshop is at 66 Broadway Ave., New Manila, Quezon City; tel. 5703436; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s open Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Slow and smooth
CRAFT COFFEE Workshop’s Raymond So explains how to brew coffee using a V60 drip cone:
1. Line the V60 with paper filter. Pre-warm the brewing vessel and serving vessel by wetting them with hot water.
2. Pour in 15 g of coffee. Create a small well in the middle of the coffee mound to make sure the water is distributed evenly.
3. Pour in a small amount of water in the middle of the coffee (ideal water temperature is 93-94°C). The coffee should bloom or swell; it’s an indication that you’re using fresh coffee. Let it bloom for 30 seconds.
4. Continue pouring in 260 ml of water in a circular motion. Time yourself—total brewing time should be two minutes. Make sure the coffee is always in contact with the water. Annelle S. Tayao