In the past few months, we have seen some of the best coffee bars in Makati enter the market: Yardstick and The Curator in Legaspi Village; Toby’s Estate and Commune in Salcedo Village; and just last week, Refinery at Rockwell.
These newbies indicate progress in the coffee community, proving that the market for luxury coffee has grown. That has to be a good thing.
It helps promote the local coffee industry. The Curator uses beans from the Mountain Province and Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region, mixing them with African and Indian beans to create its signature espresso blends.
Only local beans
Commune takes promoting local coffee a step further by working closely with the Philippine Coffee Board, and using only local beans.
Believing that Philippine beans have been overlooked, Commune seeks to promote Philippine coffee by sourcing beans from both the far north, Benguet and Sagada, and the distant south, Bukidnon and South Cotabato, for a full appreciation of what our own soil grows.
Another benefit is the education of the consumer. At The Curator, the barista, probably seeing the curiosity in the eyes of this coffeeholic, said, “I want to educate you.” Then he readily brought me to the bar to demonstrate how to make a hand brew, using a variety of manual immersion brewers and a thermometer. Status: It’s complicated!
Starbucks on steroids?
This whole experience may feel like Starbucks on steroids, but apparently it’s because coffee is no longer just something to perk you up in the morning and achieve tarsier eyes when you
need the rush.
Today there is something called Third Wave Coffee: a movement to produce high-quality coffee and promote it like wine.
The barista now works like a sommelier, asking questions like, “Do you want your coffee more fruity or more bold?”—while you think, “Just give me any f***ing coffee.”
Not to worry—after a sip of any of these new coffee bars’ blends, you’ll smile and appreciate that it’s very special, carefully thought-out, hand-roasted brews.
Yardstick has no menu. There seems to be no counter. Instead, a barista asks you whether you want black, white, the daily brew, or a hand brew. Black means without milk, white means milk-based coffee like lattés.
A similar process is employed at The Curator, although you’re a little more spoiled as you are allowed to take a seat and the barista serves you.
Toby’s has a familiar coffee menu, but there are additions to its list, like a cortado (similar to a macchiato) and a piccolo (like a latté). The Refinery—though purists might object—presents unique flavors like Salted Caramel Latté (espresso poured over house-made caramel and textured milk, topped with sea salt) and Crème Brûlée (espresso and caramel served with one-part textured milk and one-part foam, and crème brûlée topping).
The movement also extends to cold brews. Yardstick has a 12-hour cold brew that is a perfect drink for a sluggish hot day. Meanwhile, the recently opened Refinery boasts an 18-hour cold brew. If you can find the six-hour difference in your palate, let me know.
So, which is the best? Yardstick uses a lot of Brazilian beans (at least when I went); The Curator prefers African (Ethiopian and Rwandan) beans; Toby’s Estate uses beans from Australian creator Toby Smith’s own estate in Panama; Refinery uses Lamill Coffee; and Commune is proudly all-Pinoy.
I most thoroughly enjoyed The Curator’s YKW (stands for You Know What) blend using Ethiopian beans. I loved the 12-hour cold brew at Yardstick. And, unlike a lady, I gulped down the “tiramisu” using Lamill coffee at the Refinery.
But just like wine, there is no such thing as “the best”—it’s all a matter of personal preference. At P150 a cup, the choice is definitely all yours!