Personally, I can’t get started on my day without my cuppa joe first thing in the morning. I’ve found that, in order to be physically energized and mentally alert, I need to have a cup of hot coffee waiting for me as soon as I get up from bed.
At various points of the day, such as the unholy hour after lunch when I feel a wee bit drowsy or late in the afternoon when my energy levels start to dip, I would find myself reaching for another cup of coffee to get that energy boost.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my dependence on this beverage as Statista revealed in a recent study that total coffee consumption in the Philippines in 2020 reached 3.3 million 60-kilogram bags.
However, this consumption is actually driven by the demand for soluble coffee, also known as instant coffee. While so easily accessible and, for many, very affordable, instant coffee does not fully showcase the possibilities of the beverage, and that experience of enjoying an outstanding cup of coffee will remain beyond reach for a lot of people.
Introducing specialty coffee
Fortunately, there’s a coffee shop in Silang, Cavite that advocates for the highest quality of coffee, prepared according to exacting standards, so that Filipinos can discover the experience of enjoying a really good cup of this amazing beverage.
Himawari Specialty Coffee is a coffee bean roasting shop located along the Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay Road. It sells single-origin roasted beans sustainably sourced from various countries. It differentiates itself from other coffee shops by offering specialty coffee – those which come from green coffee beans of exceptional quality which are farmed, roasted and brewed to a significantly higher than average standard.
The shop is helmed by its Master Roaster, Mr. Yutaka Shinozaki, whose pursuit of knowledge and skills in specialty coffee has earned him 100 points in the Coffee Skills Program and a diploma from the Specialty Coffee Association.
“I want to introduce specialty coffee here in the Philippines,” he said.
To this end, he established the Himawari Coffee Shop in 2019 and regularly holds coffee brewing workshops at the store on Saturday afternoons.
During my recent visit to his shop, Mr. Shinozaki provided a crash course on what goes into specialty coffee which he summarized into three elements: the bean, the roasting process and the brewing method.
Specialty coffee begins with single origin beans grown in select altitudes, climates and soil, and nursed for years before harvesting. These beans are free from defects and picked at their peak of ripeness.
“There are two main types or species of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta,” shared Mr. Shinozaki. “Robusta is mainly for instant coffee. Arabica is for coffee shop practice.”
He further explained that there may be differences in levels of quality among Arabica beans. “The lowest grade of Arabica are normally used by some commercial coffee shops. They say that they are using Arabica, yes, that is correct. But it is the lowest grade, meaning low-quality and cheap. So they are using cheap beans but selling at high price.”
Specialty coffee, on the other hand, is made from the highest quality of Arabica beans, as certified by the Specialty Coffee Association.
The roasting process.
Mr. Shirataki personally roasts the green coffee beans for up to twelve minutes in a 180-deg C roaster, taking careful note of the measurements and resulting flavor profiles.
The beans are lightly roasted, going from a light green color to beige to medium brown, throughout the process. A light roast ensures that the distinct tastes of the coffee depending on the region where it was sourced are discernible.
Common lore is that coffee is best when its freshly roasted, but Mr. Shirataki shares that immediately after roasting, the beans are still emitting some gases so it is best to wait for up to three days before brewing.
To maintain the freshness of the roasted beans, they are stored in air-tight containers at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
The brewing method.
The final element to creating the delicious cup according to Mr. Shirataki is the brewing method.
“To make a good cup of coffee, of course, you need good beans. But you also need to know how to make good coffee. Even with the same bean, if you don’t know, your cup is different from our cup.”
Brewing specialty coffee to bring out all its natural goodness requires a very specific method and measurements. The process begins with grinding the fresh-roasted beans only when you’re ready to brew and pre-heating the equipment that you will use.
The ground coffee is placed onto the filter, then 20ml of freshly boiled water is poured over the grounds to let them expand or “bloom.” After thirty seconds, 140ml of water is slowly poured over the bloomed coffee for a minute, making sure that the white foam – which has a bitter taste – that appeared on top of the grounds does not touch the filter so as not to transfer the bitter taste to the coffee.
Whew! All that effort just to get a cup coffee. However, for true coffee lovers, that perfect cup of coffee is well worth all that effort.
Visitors of Himawari Specialty Coffee can enjoy hand-drip hot coffee by the cup for:
- Specialty Coffee (Yirgacheff from Ethiopia, El Jagar from Costa Rica, Fazenda and Ipanema from Brazil, Mandheling from Indonesia): Php250/cup (roasted beans also available in 100g pouch for Php1,000)
- Local Beans (Mt. Apo and Bukidnon): Php150/cup (roasted beans also available in 150g pouch for Php400)
- Mimawari Premium Blend: Php200 (roasted beans also available in 100g packs for Php200)
Those who want to munch on something as they sip their coffee can also enjoy Japanese cream-filled pastries such as the Chocolate Eclair (Php120)and the Cream Puff (Php120) or the Japanese-style Cheescake (Php200) which has a smooth and silky cheesecake layer.
Whether you’re a true-blue coffee fan or a casual coffee drinker, Himawari Specialty Coffee is definitely worth a visit. Here, you can enjoy your favorite beverage or expand your coffee horizons. Doing so will also support the continued growth and richness of our own coffee culture.
Himawari Specialty Coffee is located at CVI Building along the Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay Road, Sitio Muson, Silang, Cavite. To order its specialty coffee beans, visit its online store.
Disclosure: I attended a workshop and coffee tasting held here. Food and beverage items mentioned here were served in exchange for this feature at no cost to me.