Gourmet Food Trippin’ at Manila Ocean Park

How’s your summer going so far, foodies?

If you’ve got a hankering for some #VitaminSea but are not keen on leaving the city, then Manila Ocean Park is definitely the place to be!

Having just reopened after nearly two years of being closed to the public, Manila Ocean Park is reinforcing its positioning as the all-season holiday destination with eight exciting attractions now ready for the hordes of urbanites like you who are raring for fun and adventure.

MOP Summer
Exploring the Oceanarium
MOP Summer
Sea Lion Encounter

All that walking around and sight-seeing is sure to work up an appetite, though. Well, don’t worry, dear foodies, because Manila Ocean Park also serves up gastronomic delights that will satisfy even the most discerning gastronome.

These culinary creations are all curated by Manila Ocean Park’s Executive Chef Ranuka Hettiarachchi, who brings his extraordinary skill sets to bear in bringing distinctly gourmet dining experiences for the park’s visitors through its in-house restaurants.

MOP Food Trip
Chef Ranuka Hettiarachchi, Manila Ocean Park and Hotel H20’s Executive Chef
MOP Food Trip
Chef Ranuka joins Mr Francis Low in welcoming me and my fellow bloggers to Manila Ocean Park

Garden Dining by White Moon Bar

Garden Dining by White Moon Bar came about in May 2021 when the lockdowns were beginning to ease up but indoor dining was not yet allowed. By making use of Manila Ocean Park’s Barnyard area to offer al fresco dining, and serving up a refreshed menu of Asian fusion dishes, this newly opened eatery became a bright spot for foodies looking for restaurant-quality fare during quarantine.

Garden Dining by White Moon Bar
Garden Dining by White Moon Bar
Garden Dining by White Moon Bar
Garden Dining by White Moon Bar

Looking at these mouth-watering dishes, you would be hard-pressed to imagine Chef Ranuka whipping these up using just a griddle and stove, which was all he had available when this restaurant first opened.

MOP Food Trip
Pineapple Glazed Pork Liempo (Php280). Grilled pork belly slices glazed with homemade pineapple sauce served with fried potato wedges, mixed salad and spicy mayo dip.
MOP Food Trip
Bulalo Steak (Php450). Batangas beef shank, sweet corn, French beans and cabbage served in garlicky gravy with Java rice.
MOP Food Trip
Umami Chicken & Cheese Madness (Php240). Grilled chicken thigh fillet in mushroom ang garlic sauce topped with melted mozzarella cheese, and served with sauteed greens, fried seaweed and Java rice.
MOP Food Trip
Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings (Php200). Deep-fried chicken wings glazed in sriracha and fermented bean paste, garnished with spring onions, garlic pechay and white sesame, served with Java rice.
MOP Food Trip
Hungarian Sausage (Php370). Fried sausages served with potato wedges and Dijon mustard.
MOP Food Trip
Blueberry Cheesecake (Php190).

While feasting on these dishes, you can quench your thirst with refreshing shakes and cocktails.

MOP Food Trip
Watermelon Shake (Php120).
MOP Food Trip
Pineapple Shake (Php120).
MOP Food Trip
Ginger + Honey + Citrus Booster (Php120).
MOP Food Trip
Mojito (Php220). Refreshing cocktail made with white rum, mint, citrus juice and soda water.

Garden Dining by White Moon Bar is located at the side entrance of Manila Ocean Park near The Barnyard and Sea Lion pool.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Read about my previous experience here.

Makan Makan Asian Food Village

Makan Makan Asian Food Village got its name from the Singaporean expression that invites people to eat.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Located at the second floor of Hotel H2O off to the side of Manila Ocean Park, this restaurant presents an extensive array of tasty Singaporean hawker fare, staple Chinese dishes, and Pinoy classic faves, giving hotel guests and park visitors a viable option for their midday or evening meal.

MOP Food Trip
Chicken Corn & Egg Drop Soup (Php380). A thick and soothing savory soup with chunks of minced chicken, corn and ribbons of egg whisked into the broth.
MOP Food Trip
Mixed Seafood Fried Rice (Php360). A distinctly Asian twist to our sinangag with the addition of finely chopped seafood and veggies.
MOP Food Trip
Crispy Pork with Adobong Kangkong (Php420). A take on the Ilocano dish Apan-Apan which features slices of deep fried pork belly on a bed of sauteed water spinach.
MOP Food Trip
Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet (Php350). A Singaporean version of our Escabeche made with battered and deep-fried fillets of fish served in a sweet and sour sauce.
MOP Food Trip
Pancit Canton (Php300). A Pinoy favorite made of egg noodles tossed with sauteed veggies, seafood and chopped meat.
MOP Food Trip
Sambal Squid (Php490). Also known as Sambal Sotong, it is made of fresh squid rings cooked in a sauce made with chili, shallots and garlic.

With both familiar and exotic dishes on offer, Makan Makan Asian Food Village is a worthy food stop during your Manila Ocean Park adventure.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

For more details and updates on its food offerings, follow Makan Makan Asian Food Village on Facebook and Instagram.

Garden Cafe by Hotel H2O

If you feel like you want to take a coffee break in the middle of your wanderings around the park, drop by Garden Cafe by Hotel H2Oo. Here, you can relax amidst a refreshing backdrop of foliage and open air, while you sip your handcrafted coffee or smoothie.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

You may as well indulge yourself with some pastries while you’re at it. These confections are usually sea-themed and lovingly crafted by Chef Ranuka’s pastry chefs.

Mirror Glazed Sea-Themed Cake.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Aqua Bavarian Donut.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Other Pastries.

MOP Food Trip
Almond Chocolate
MOP Food Trip
Sable Cookies

Want something to help you combat a hot day? Go for some iced coffee, then.

MOP Food Trip
Iced Latte (Php100).
MOP Food Trip
Iced Mocha (Php110).
MOP Food Trip
Iced Kopi Tarik (Php110). Made with coffee dark roasted with margarine and sugar, sweetened with condensed milk.
MOP Food Trip

Don’t hesitate to sit down and take a break with your pals while having some coffee and pastries in this comfy (and very Instagrammable) nook.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Garden Cafe by Hotel H2O is located at the ground floor of Hotel H2OO, easily accessible from Manila Ocean Park.

Follow it on Facebook and Instagram.

White Moon Bar

Want to end your Manila Ocean Park adventure on a high note?

Then, proceed to the second floor deck of Hotel H2O to catch the gorgeous sunset while you hang out at White Moon Bar.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Nibble on some appetizing bar chow while listening to chill music.

MOP Food Trip
Chicharon Bulaklak (Php280).
MOP Food Trip
Potato Wedges (Php180).
MOP Food Trip
Edamame Beans (Php350).
MOP Food Trip
Beef Burger (Php400).

Of course, your sunset chillout sesh wouldn’t be complete without some of White Moon Bar’s Classic and Signature cocktails.

MOP Food Trip
Tequila Sunset (Php300). A sweetened version of Tequila Sunrise due to the addition of grenadine.
MOP Food Trip
Amalfi Sour (Php390). Made with limoncello and vodka, shaken with honey, strawberries and fresh lemon juice.
MOP Food Trip
Sangria Blanco (Php320). Made with white wine, a splash of sweet citrus, cucumbers and peaches.
MOP Food Trip

So take the time to enjoy good food and great company at White Moon Bar as you wind down from your activity-packed day at Manila Ocean Park.

MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip
MOP Food Trip

Follow White Moon Bar by Hotel H2O on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on its offers.

Watch out for more foodie destinations that Manila Ocean Park will be launching soon!

Manila Ocean Park is located behind the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta along Roxas Boulevard, Ermita Manila. To stay updated on its promos and offers, follow it on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: I attended food tastings held at these restaurants during my recent tours in Manila Ocean Park. Food items here were served at no cost to the attendees.

Check out my previous posts about Manila Ocean Park:

Coffee appreciation at Himawari Specialty Coffee in Silang, Cavite

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.

Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

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
Himawari Specialty Coffee

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.

Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

“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.

The bean.

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.

Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

“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.

Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

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.

Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty 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)
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

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.

Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

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
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee
Himawari Specialty Coffee

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.

To stay updated on its offers, follow Himawari Specialty Coffee on Facebook and Instagram.

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.

Happy weekend at Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

I always look forward to the weekend (who doesn’t?). Aside from giving me a welcome break from the daily grind, it’s also a chance to take things slow and spend time with my loved ones.

This particular Saturday, I decided to indulge my daughter #ExhibitA once again when she said she wanted some donuts from Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe.

And being the indulgent mom that I am (as well as a foodie who loves discovering new places to eat in), I decided to treat her to brunch there as well.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

I was happy to discover that this new cafe located in Pioneer Centre is managed by the same group that runs Mad Mark’s Creamery, one of my favorite haunts for steak and ice cream.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe offers quite a different gustatory experience to the metro’s foodies: artisanal fluffy brioche donuts and specialty coffee created in “pursuit of the noblest art of making people happy.” Plus, with a well-curated selection of pasta dishes and sandwiches and a quaint, industrial yet neat and comfy decor, it’s all set to become a favorite brunch venue for the titas of the city (like me!).

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

On my brunch date with #ExhibitA, we tried out tasty selections from its menu such as:

Chick ‘n Pops (Php185). A mixture of crispy chicken skin and juicy bits of buttermilk fried chicken served with barbecue sauce and Molly’s Special Sauce.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

Guanciale & Mushroom Pasta (Php245). Al dente linguini tossed in a cream sauce with bacon bits and shiitake mushrooms.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

Yangnyeom Chicken Bun (Php215). Buttermilk fried chicken coated in homemade yangnyeom sauce encased with onions, tomatoes and lettuce in fluffy brioche buns.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

Fluffy Donut Ala Mode (Php165). Our choice of fluffy donut (Roasted Brown Butter) and homemade ice cream (Madagascar Vanilla Bean).

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

We partnered these dishes with our orders of refreshing handcrafted beverage: Iced Spanish Latte (Php125), made with an espresso shot, homemade spice blend, homemade scratch caramel and steamed milk, and Iced Uji Matcha Latte (Php135), made with whisked matcha from Uji, Japan and steamed milk.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

This delish brunch date gave me and #ExhibitA the opportunity to have some time to ourselves, a bit of very welcome mother-daughter bonding.

The great thing is that the happy time didn’t stop when we left the cafe; we actually brought it home with us in the form of a dozen fluffy brioche donuts!

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

We decided to surprise our boys – Hubby and my son #ExhibitB – as well as our yaya with some delicious donut creations for merienda or even breakfast the next morning.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Roasted Brown Butter (Php65).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Walnut Crunch (Php75).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Peanut Butter Cup (Php65).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Bacon Bomb (Php75).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Bean-to-Bar Dark Chocolate (Php65).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter (Php75).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Nutty Chocolate (Php65).
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Super Peanut Butter Cup (Php75).
Molly’s Donuts
Uji Matcha Morihan (Php75).
Molly’s Donuts

While these goodies are best consumed immediately, they can be refrigerated and then heated in the microwave right before eating for that “fresh from the oven” taste and feel.

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe
Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe

So, get ready to give yourself and your loved ones some happiness with these treats!

Molly’s Donuts & Brunch Cafe is located at Ground Floor, Pioneer Centre Supermarket, Pioneer Street corner United, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City, open for dine-in, takeout or delivery daily from 10am to 8pm. For delivery and pre-order, visit mollys.pickup.ph.

Marites’ Day Out at Toby’s Estate and Pinks, BGC

Everyday is a good day for teams of Marites to come together and exchange some of those proverbial “tea.”

If the encounter happens in a posh area with lots of green spaces such as in the eateries in Bonifacio Global City, then so much the better. (Because Maritesses love them some nature!)

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

How do I know this?

Because I’m a Marites myself, and I recently swarmed together with my fellow Maritesses for some “tea” and company at BGC.

Toby’s Estate

Our first stop was in Toby’s Estate, home of beautiful coffee sustainably sourced from farmers around the globe. (Because we Maritesses care about sustainability!)

Here, we exchanged chikas over a filling and energizing brunch, which included:

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

Mocha (Php190). A hot latte made with a splash of rich chocolate syrup.

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

Hot Chocolate (Php170). A rich and comforting cocoa drink.

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (Php295). Oodles of melty cheese in crisp butter-toasted bread served with house-made potato chips and a tangy tomato compote.

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

Eggs Benedict (Php385). My breakfast of choice composed of sliced ham topped with poached eggs on over toasted English muffins, all drenched with house-made Hollandaise sauce.

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

This tita-ish brunch powered us for a day of lively conversations.

However, the fun didn’t stop here because we hopped over right next door to…

Pink’s Hotdogs and Burgers

At this local offshoot of Hollywood famous hotdog franchise, our group of Maritesses continued on our merry exchanges.

We didn’t see any Tinseltown celebrities but we did bond over some yummy snackables:

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

Milkshakes (Php322). Nothing feels like a childhood indulgence quite look a tall glass of milkshakes.

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
Chocolate Milkshake
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
Strawberry Milkshake

Hand-cut French Fries (Php190). Freshly deep-fried sticks of potatoes served with ketchup. Great for munching!

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

Sausage Sampler (Php620). Sausages served with pickles, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise.

BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s
BGC - Toby’s Estate and Pink’s

With such munchable treats, who would want this Maritess’ Day Out to end?

These branches of Toby’s Estate and Pink’s Hot Dogs are located at the the High Street Park, Shangri-la at the Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

What’s your bet for your chika session snackables with your Maritess friends?

Stunning sunset and skyline views at Antipolo’s Cafe Agusta

One of the usual appeals of Antipolo restaurants is the view they offer of the Metro Manila skyline.

For many of us denizens of the metro, the city is full of smoke, traffic and stress. From afar, especially after sundown, it’s awash with color, lights and wonder. For me, it’s the kind of sight that helps you find comfort and meaning for all the hard work that we do.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

This is the reason I asked two of my former bosses for a sunset meetup at Cafe Agusta in Antipolo. Not only will this be the first time we would be together for the first time since the pandemic, this tete-a-tete will also celebrate my 15 years in the company which they have been so instrumental in shaping.

Amazing views for al fresco diners

Diners who prefer to stay indoors can lounge inside the cafe where its nice and cozy.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

However, let’s face it: the real draw for this place has got to be its amazing view.

With its location high up the mountain and facing west, it provides the ideal vantage point with which to gaze at the metro’s cityscape as the sun sets.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

The buildings’ white walls and cobblestone lined exterior floors are complemented by tables clothed in light blue to give off that Santorini vibe as diners enjoy the cool mountain breeze and the awesome sunset view.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

For guests who are in the mood for some drinks, they can get their cocktails and mixes from Agusta bar right across the cafe and enjoy their drinks in a separate deck.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

Comfort food that’s good to share

Cafe Agusta serves up filling comfort food that can be enjoyed as guests soak in the view. During our foray here, my friends and I shared:

Panini Chicken Crunch (Php260). Crispy chicken fillet loaded with cheese and the resto’s special sauce.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

Creamy Pesto with Grilled Chicken (Php350). Al dente noodles tossed in flavorful pesto sauce with bits of juicy grilled chicken.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

Pasta di Vongole (Php300). Al dente noodles tossed with Manila clams, garlic and parsley in olive oil and spiced up with pepper flakes.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

Blueberry Cheesecake (Php185). Proving that there’s always room for dessert, we capped our meal with this sweet treat.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

We washed our light meal down with Raspberry and Cuban Mint Agusta Coolers (Php140 each) and an Ice Blended Mocha (Php160).

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

Some kinks in the system

While Cafe Agusta’s awesome view may have been worth the trip, there are some areas for improvement which, when addressed, can make the entire dining experience here absolutely phenomenal.

Here are some of my observations:

  • The restaurant understandably does not accept reservations, and given its popularity, some walk-in diners should expect to wait before being allowed to enter the sunset viewing deck at around 5.30pm. A notice outside of the number of guests waiting in queue would be helpful for other diners to gauge their waiting time and decide if they want to stay so they can catch the sunset.
  • Stray cats more or less have free rein in the al fresco dining area. While they don’t jump on the tables, steal food nor attack diners, they do go underneath the tables and would sometimes slink against the legs of the guests. Aside from concerns for those with cat allergies, these stray animals roaming about in a dining environment can be considered a bit unsanitary.
  • Some orders, as well as the bill preparation, took quite some time. Some efficiencies in order taking and bill processing would go a long way towards improving the customer experience.

I found the overall experience at Cafe Agusta to be quite good, thanks to the delicious pasta dishes, the friendly wait staff (one even gamely took several pictures of me and my companions), and, of course, its much lauded view.

Cafe Agusta
Cafe Agusta

Hopefully, with a few slight adjustments in its operations, the restaurant will be known and appreciated for more than just its view.

Cafe Agusta is located along Grand Heights Road, Grand Heights Subdivision, Antipolo City, Rizal, open Mondays to Thursdays from 12 noon to 9pm and Fridays to Sundays from 11am to 11pm.

For more details about the restaurant, follow Cafe Agusta on Facebook and Instagram.

A French cafe experience at PAUL le cafe

France has a delicious history with coffee dating back to 17th century when cafes started opening up, offering not just coffee but also a feeling of community. Cafes encouraged the practice of slowing down, lingering and connecting with one’s neighbors and peers; they became focal points for conversation, artistic expression, and, at some point, even revolutionary sentiments.

With the opening of its first Philippine store in Greenbelt 5 in Makati, PAUL le cafe brings the French cafe experience center stage, much to the delight of coffee lovers in the metro.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

PAUL le cafe also incorporates classic coffee colors as well as black, the emblematic hue of the original family-owned PAUL bakeries in France, and terra-cotta red, the color of coffee cherries.

Its clean and modern look was developed with the help of interior and set designer Emilie Bonaventure. Its spectacular lighting, gleaming coffee machine and welcoming colors are accented by artfully placed photographs, all set against the PAUL trademark black and white flooring.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

In this stylish setting, coffee lovers can enjoy their favorite beverage expertly crafted by PAUL’s baristas, using 100% Arabica coffee sourced from sustainable Rain Forest Alliance producers.

The store also offers and expanded menu of hot coffee drinks that include classics such as espresso, latte and Americano, to gourmet recipes such as flat white, cappuccino, cafe Viennois and mochas, even vegan options made with almond or oat milk.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

To cool down on a hot day (which we have a lot of in this country), customers can also opt for iced versions of their coffee favorites.

The store also offers non-coffee beverages such as hot and iced teas, freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

Customers can also get a taste of the PAUL macaron frappe – a concoction made of milk, cream and a French macaron – blended together with ice, resulting to a sweet and brightly colored drink.

These drinks are best enjoyed with something delicious to nibble on. Luckily, savory lunch items such as freshly prepared sandwiches and salads, quiches and pizzas are on offer.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

However, the highlight for a sweet tooth like me has got to be the pattiserie – a collection of French pastries and cakes that appeal to the eyes and tastebuds of every dessert lover.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

Among the macarons, fruit tartlets, Napoleons, and more on display, all manner of sweet cravings can be sated.

At PAUL le cafe, coffee lovers can bask in the elegantly relaxed atmosphere of a French cafe while enjoying premium drinks and high quality pastries.

It is a place to relax, unwind and take a precious moment, whether to catch up with friends or enjoy one’s solitude in comfort.

PAUL le cafe
PAUL le cafe

Drop by PAUL le cafe at Ground Floor, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City and say “Bonjour” to a posh yet relaxing coffee shop a la francaise experience.

For more details on its offers, follow PAUL Philippines on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: I attended the Grand Opening of this restaurant where food and drink were served for honest feedback.

Wake up to great mornings with Upgrounds Coffee

I have no problem admitting it: I don’t consider myself fully awake unless I’ve had my morning cup of coffee.

I love coffee in almost anything – from gourmet dishes to decadent desserts – but my favorite coffee experience remains starting my day with it.

When the aroma of coffee brewing begins tickle my nostrils, the smell beckons me to get up and face the day. As I sip from my coffee cup, I enjoy the flavors and full-bodied feel of it in my mouth .

Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee

Throughout the day, I would try to find little snippets of time in which to enjoy my favorite drink and the extra energy boost it gives me.

I know I’m not alone in my love for this drink.

Filipinos have a deep love for coffee, consuming 170,000 metric tons of the stuff in 2018, in fact. Sadly, a huge bulk of this consumption come from dried coffee beans imported Indonesia and Vietnam.

More’s the pity because 200 years ago, the Philippines was a powerhouse in coffee production, being the fourth largest coffee producer worldwide.

Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee

Coffee-loving startups like Upgrounds MNL seek to help in revitalizing the local coffee industry urge it back to a thriving level by bringing the best local coffee beans to Filipino homes for an upgraded coffee experience.

It started out by selling its coffee beans during weekend bazaars, showcasing coffee beans sourced from the Cordillera region.

Not only does this help in broadening the coffee-drinking public’s horizons regarding this beverage, it also supports local coffee farmers and gives a welcome boost to their rural economy.

Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee

Upgrounds’ coffee bean variants included:

  • Arabica (with bittersweet, nutty taste and a smooth finish; available in Dark or Medium roast)
  • Robusta (with strong, full-bodied taste and a smokey finish; available in Dark and Medium roast.
  • House Blend (blend of Arabica, Robusta, and Excelsa coffee beans; available in Dark or Medium roast)
  • Mountain Blend (blend of Robusta, and Excelsa coffee beans; available in Dark roast)
  • Hazelnut (mix of Dark Roast Arabica and Robusta beans infused with flavored Hazelnut oil)
  • Caramel (mix of Medium Roast Arabica and Robusta beans infused with flavored Caramel oil)

These coffee variants are conveniently packaged according to the coffee lovers’ various preferences: in 250g and 500g pouches, in 8g single drip packs with mug-attachable filter, in 125g packs as part of a coffee sampler set.

Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee

When the pandemic hit the country, Upgrounds saw the demand for coffee and coffee-making at home. It moved its business online, taking advantage of social media and e-commerce platforms to increase its reach and distribution while also expanding its product portfolio to include home coffee essentials such as premium and collectible coffee tumblers and mugs, coffee scooper and French press.

Coffee beans and accessories are also mixed and matched into gift sets which any coffee lover would be so happy to receive this holiday season.

Upgrounds Coffee
Upgrounds Coffee

I just love the coffee possibilities that Upgrounds brings.

If you’re a coffee lover like me, check out Upgrounds beans and coffee essentials at its website or Shopee page or follow it on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: Product samples were provided to facilitate this feature story.

Spiked cold brew coffee from Kohi

Want a drink that can wake up your senses but is still good for chillin’?

Then grab a flask (or more!) of the Kohi Spiked Collection!

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

These adventuresome coffee creations are all cold-brewed: instead of using hot water to bring out the flavor and caffeine from the coffee beans, they are instead steeped in cold water for long periods (from 12 to 24 hours), relying on time to gently draw out the coffee qualities we so love. This process results into a coffee concentrate that can be mixed with cold water and other ingredients to come up with great-tasting coffee drinks for us to enjoy.

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Cold-brewed coffee also has several advantages over its hot-brewed cousin:

  • It is less acidic so it less likely to cause heartburn or plague those suffering from acid reflux.
  • It can also be served hot simply by adding hot water.
  • It is sweeter and smoother, with less bitterness that we associate with brewed coffee so less cream or sugar is needed to make the perfect cup.

Kohi takes coffee for an exciting spin by adding some alcohol to its signature cold brew to craft the inventive drinks that make up the Kohi Spiked Collection.

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

They come in cute and handy 260ml hip flasks, a throwback to the times when we had to sneak our liquor in to where we’re going. (Hopefully, we won’t need to do that anymore, hehehe!)

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

These include:

Spiked Kohi (Php179). Kohi’s signature premium cold brew with a bit of coffee liqueur. It has a rich coffee flavor with some sweet notes. Shake well and serve with ice.

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

White Russian (Php209). Kohi’s signature premium cold brew combined with milk with a bit of vodka mixed in. It has milky taste and creamy mouthfeel that should appeal to latte lovers. Shake well and serve with ice.

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Dizzy Kohi (Php189). A fizzy drink made with Kohi’s signature cold brew, coffee liqueur and soda. It has a more astringent and fruity taste that goes well with the fizz. Do not shake.

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

So want to have your coffee and chill with it too? Order your choice from the Kohi Spiked Collection, available every Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 8pm, and enjoy that lovely buzz along with your caffeine fix.

Kohi Spiked Collection

Kohi Spiked Collection

Orders may be coursed via Facebook or Instagram.

Disclosure: Product samples were provided to facilitate this feature article.

Hanabishi combines grinder and coffeemaker into one device

Enjoying freshly brewed coffee doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to invest in an expensive coffeemaker to have one every day. Neither do you have to travel far or get in line. Thanks to Hanabishi, you can have it right in your own home.

Recently, the company known for its affordable and quality appliances introduced the Hanabishi 2in1 Grinder and Coffeemaker. Available for just PhP3,750, it can make four cups of coffee in one brew. You can use it for both coffee beans and ground coffee.

“To say that Filipinos love coffee is an understatement. We are proud of our kapeng barako and we are fond of exploring different varieties of coffee. It was evident with the success of coffee shops from Starbucks, UCC Café, and Coffebean and Tea Leaf in the local market,” said Cherish Ong-Chua, Vice President, Finance and Marketing at Hanabishi.

According to Ong-Chua, Hanabishi’s new product offering, the 2in1 Grinder and Coffeemaker, is an innovation that aims to bring the coffee connoisseur experience right to every Filipino’s home. However, they have simplified the functions of the machine.

Operating it is easy. Just add your coffee beans or ground coffee, pour in some water, select the setting, and your coffee would be ready in minutes. Cleaning it is just as fuss-free.

The Hanabishi 2in1 Grinder and Coffeemaker is also a good product to invest in if you’re running or looking to put up a coffee shop. It’s less expensive than most coffee makers and functions just as efficiently.

For more information about Hanabishi’s 2in1 Grinder and Coffeemaker, visit myhanabishi.com.

Spanning more than three decades, Hanabishi has established its reputation as a provider of affordable yet quality home products that lasts, which paved the way for its tagline “Kapartner from Start to Forever.” Hanabishi Home Appliances are available at leading appliance stores nationwide. For more information about Hanabishi, please visit it website or its Facebook Page.  

Product image and details provided by Hanabishi in a recent press release.

Cook-It-Yourself Packs of premium coffee grounds and hotcake mix now available in McDonald’s!

In case you missed it, McDonald’s has made it easier to prepare meals and snacks at home with Cook-It-Yourself Packs of Premium Coffee Grounds, Hotcake Mix, Hot Fudge Topping, and so much more!

Get them now at select McDonald’s stores through Take-Out and Drive-Thru as they’re available for a limited time only!

McDonalds Cook-It Yourself

See the full list of Cook-It-Yourself packs below:

  • Coffee Grounds (80 g or approx. 7 cups) – Php 99 per pack
  • Hotcake Mix (1 kg or approx. 27-28 servings) – Php 149 per pack
  • Hotcake Syrup (1 kg) – Php 199 per pack
  • Tonkatsu Sauce (1 kg) – Php 199 per pack
  • Mayonnaise (1.5 kg) – Php 399 per pack
  • Hot Fudge Topping (2 kg) – Php 399 per pack
  • Caramel Topping (2 kg) – Php 399 per pack

View the list of participating McDonald’s stores here and follow McDonald’s Philippines on Facebook to stay up to date on all announcements.

Header photo by Natanja Grün on Unsplash

Nitro 7 Coffee & Tea Bar, SM Pasig

You’ve probably heard of cold brew coffee but what about nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee?

Nitro 7 Coffee & Tea Bar is the first of its kind in the country, operating on a new technology in coffee and tea preparation.

At Nitro 7, single-origin Ethiopians arabica coffee beans are brewed in low temperature for 18 hours, then infused with nitrogen before being served on tap, similar to draft beer. The entire painstaking process from brewing your Nitro 7 coffee to serving it to you takes two days.

Cold brewing the coffee increases its caffeine content while lessening its acidity, making this the preferred coffee of people suffering from hyperacidity.

Infusing it with nitrogen, on the other hand, reduces the coffee’s bitter taste while thickening its texture and adding some milk sweetness to the brew. The result: the Black Nitro, Nitro 7’s signature black coffee which also serves as the base for its other coffee flavors.

Thanks to GCs I received during the epic #WLTEChristmas Party and also from Harvard of AlwaysHungryPH, I was able to treat my daughter and myself to a coffee break at the Nitro 7 Coffee & Tea Bar in SM Pasig.

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

There we enjoyed some of the coffee bar’s more Irish creme-based variants:

Irish Creme Breve (Php145). A creamy blend of nutty, chocolate, vanilla and whiskey flavors.

Irish Caramel Creme Nitroccino (Php170). An ice-blended coffee which mixes the flavors of Irish creme and the sweet richness of caramel.

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

We also treated ourselves to some desserts available at the store such as the New York Cheesecake (Php135), two pieces of Crinkles (Php35 each) and a Revel Bar (Php55).

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

The desserts are good accompaniments to the coffee drinks which remain the stars of the show.

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

Nitro 7, SM Pasig

This Nitro 7 Coffee & Tea Bar branch is located at Ground Floor, SM Center Pasig, Frontera Drive, Barangay Ugong, Pasig City, open daily from 11am to 10pm.

Other branches are located at:

  • Makati: Food Choices Third Floor Glorietta 4
  • Mandaluyong: Fourth Floor SM Megamall Building B, 123 Pioneer Street Highway Hills
  • Manila: Third Floor Robinsons Place Manila, Ground Floor LA Village at Youniversity Suites Sampaloc
  • Quezon City: Lower Ground Floor Robinsons Magnolia, Level 1 Robinsons Galleria, Lower Ground Floor SM City Fairview, The Annex SM City North EDSA, Eastwood Citywalk 1 Libis
  • Pasig: 2nd Floor Ayala Malls the 30th, Cinema Level Ayala Malls Feliz, Emerald Mansion Garnet Road
  • Valenzuela: Mezzanine Floor Pond Building

Nitro 7 Coffee & Tea Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my blog posts on breakfast/brunch joints around the metro:

Back-to-basics coffee at Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

Coffee is big business in the metro, with coffee shops and cafes sprouting all over, offering coffee aficionados all kinds of roasts, blends and what-not.

But if you’re a coffee lover wandering around Ayala Malls the 30th, you just might find a no-frills alternative for your caffeine fix.

A few steps away from the grocery store is a Little Farmers Coffee Brim kiosk which offers a wondrous array of coffee beans, roasted and blended, some infused with flavors, to cater to coffee fans who really care about what goes into their cuppa.

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

Little Farmers Coffee Brim started in Bacolod then branched off to Manila with its first outlet in SM Megamall where budding entrepreneur Warren Yao got hooked after his first taste of the coffee and decided to become a franchisee. Hence, the opening of a Little Farmers Coffee Brim at Ayala Malls the 30th which I visited together with fellow coffee-loving foodies.

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

The coffee beans are all sourced locally, from the coffee-producing mountains of the Cordillera region – Benguet, Sagada and Kalinga – supporting the region’s small coffee farmers through a fair trade arrangement.

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

These local beans are roasted and blended to produce the variety on offer at all Little Farmers Coffee Brim outlets, where they are freshly ground and brewed upon order.

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

Of particular interest to me were the flavored beans. How could that be possible?

Simple: during the roasting process, food grade oil extracts of the desired flavors are added to the beans, producing coffee with subtle notes of desired flavors without the need for too much dairy or flavored syrups.

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

During my visit to this Little Farmers Coffee Brim kiosk, I was able to taste iced versions of two of these variants: Mocha and Baileys. The coffee flavor is the most dominant with infused flavor adding dimensions to the aroma and overall taste of the brew.

Here, I also learned that sweetening coffee with condensed milk or muscovado sugar brings out their best flavor. (Duly noted!)

Little Farmers Coffee Brim also offers the famed Kape Alamid – the civet coffee (I won’t go into how that is made, hehehe!). This aromatic and full-flavored brew will really wake you up! (Like my foodie friends say, “ang kapeng matapang na kaya kang ipaglaban!”).

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

You can get a hot freshly brewed cup of your choice of coffee blend for just Php55, enjoy it iced for Php65 or have it decaf for Php80. Alamid Coffee is Php200 per cup.

Little Farmers Coffee Brim is definitely a welcome addition to metro’s coffee options. Do give it a try!

Many thanks to Warren Yao of Little Farmers Coffee Brim for the drinks and to Bunny of Always the Funny Girl for extending the invitation!

Little Farmers Coffee Brim, Ayala Malls the 30th

This Little Farmers Coffee Brim branch is located Lower Ground Floor, Ayala Malls the 30th, Meralco Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City, open Sundays to Thursdays from 11am to 9pm and Fridays to Saturdays from 11am to 10pm.

Other Metro Manila branches may be found at:

  • SM Hypermarket, Upper Ground Floor, SM Megamall Building B, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong
  • Lower Ground Floor, SM Makati, Glorietta Complex, Makati City

Little Farmers Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I was invited to attend a coffee tasting held at this kiosk. Drinks mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

This past November, Dean & DeLuca opened its newest branch in Quezon City.

This much-awaited outlet is notable for many things, not the least of which is the fact that it is owned by actress (and idol of the titas) Bea Alonzo.

“Good old coffee. Just what I need today.” she posted on her Instagram.

(Oh, Bea… don’t we all?)

Dean & DeLuca started as a chain of upscale grocery stores in New York City but has since evolved into cafe operations. Its first three branches in the country are located in Makati and BGC, with more in the works.

This past Tuesday, my officemates and I made our way to QC’s Dean & DeLuca, a five-minute car ride from our workplace, for our lunch break.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

With the exception of the guys who joined us for the midday meal, this bunch consisted mostly of titas, who all have been looking forward to dining at Dean & DeLuca.

Our orders included:

Truffle Fries (Php160). Crispy French fries drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with grated parmesan before serving with a creamy zesty dip.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Aglio e Olio Gamberini (Php450). Organic pasta tossed in traditional Italian garlic and olive oil base along with prawns and cherry tomatoes.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Prawn and Gorgonzola Pasta (Php495). Organic pasta tossed in a creamy paprika wine sauce along with fresh prawns, gorgonzola cheese, mushroom and basil.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Butifarra con Salsa Funghi e Tartufo (Php470). Organic pasta tossed in truffle cream along with slices of Butifarra sausage and fresh mushrooms.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich (Php380). Free-range chicken, grated cheese pimiento, pickled dill, slaw and dressing in yeast-free sourdough bread.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Umami Fried Chicken (Php390). Aburi fried chicken, miso glaze, slaw and lettuce in sourdough brioche.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Beef Rendang (Php590). Himalayan red rice topped with grass-fed beef cooked in rendang spice and coconut milk.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

After lunching on these food items, we capped our meal with our chosen coffee drinks – Salted Caramel Latte, Cafe Latte and Cappuccino – all priced at Php160 each.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLucca does tick off all the marks when it comes to trendy cuisine (eg. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, organic pasta, etc.) which I’m sure many foodies will appreciate.

Sadly, given its price points, I’m not as impressed as I hoped I would be when it came to my truffle pasta which I found too heavily flavored. My friends told me that I simply ordered the wrong item from the menu but how can I go wrong with ordering one of my favorite pasta dishes?

Oh, well. Maybe when I try the desserts on my next visit I’ll have a better experience!

Plus, my officemates and I still had a chill “tita-ish” lunch break here.

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca, Tomas Morato

Dean & DeLuca is located at Scout Rallos corner Scout Tuazon Streets, Tomas Morato, Quezon City, open daily from 10am to 9pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 916 2126535.

Dean & DeLuca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my blog posts on breakfast/brunch joints around the metro:

Become a coffee expert at UCC Coffee Academy

Fancy yourself a coffee connoisseur?

Well, you will be amazed at what more you can discover and learn about your favorite brews at the UCC Coffee Academy.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

Located at Uptown Parade in Bonifacio Global City, the academy culls eighty-five years of UCC Japan’s coffee expertise, from crop cultivation, procurement, research and development to roasting and processing, creating a coffee culture and serving the precious cuppas to coffee lovers.

Key to imparting these coffee knowledge is its use of an interactive Japanese method. Aside from lectures and presentations from knowledgeable instructors on various areas of coffee production, preparation and appreciation, students also benefit from hands-on learning experience. Here, students can expect to learn to learn to value the quality of a good coffee bean, from where, by whom and how it is sourced, how it is prepared and served to bring out its best qualities, and how those qualities are evaluated and ranked by coffee experts worldwide.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

Together with my fellow foodies from #WeLoveToEatPH, I went through an extremely condensed crash course on Coffeeology: Coffee Fundamentals from Farm to Cup at the academy.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

UCC Coffee Academy Head Instructor Robert Francisco took our group on a journey of coffee discovery. Having authored the book A Coffee Journal as an effort to support local farmers, he holds the local coffee industry very close to his heart.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

Assisted by another UCC Coffee Academy instructor Joems Lichangco, Instructor Francisco gave our group a customized coffee preparation and appreciation workshop which includes brewing at home, tasting and – my favorite – latte art.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

Here are some tips I picked up along the way:

Coffee Brewing.

The ratio of coffee to water is important for product consistency: use 20 grams of coffee to 300 grams of 92 to 93 deg C water.

Always pre-heat your equipment – drippers, filters and catchers – by slowly pouring a bit of hot water on them. Washing the paper filter, in particular, removes any papery or bleachy taste that can mar the flavor of the coffee.

Pour the first 40 grams of water on the ground coffee to let it “bloom.” The hot water allows the gas from inside the ground coffee beans to escape and the flavor to be extracted. This process is called blooming because the ground coffee seems to bloom or expand with the water it absorbs. After twenty seconds, you can already pour the rest of the water.

Coffee Tasting.

Freshly brewed unsweetened coffee may taste sour because coffee actually is acidic but not strong enough to curdle milk nor bring about acid reflux. What triggers acid reflux is the caffeine. Here’s a tip: eat something buttery like cake to line the stomach walls before drinking coffee to weaken the acid reflux.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

Coffee has various aspects for consideration during coffee tasting. These include aroma (how it smells), flavor (how it tastes), body (how it feels in your mouth), finish (its aftertaste) and roast (whether the beans are lightly or darkly toasted). To draw out these aspects, here’s how to taste your coffee:

Step 1: Smell your coffee.

Breathe in your coffee’s fragrance. Much of the nuances of coffee’s flavor are contributed by its aroma.

Step 2: Slurp your coffee. Slurping allows more of the coffee to cover different areas of your tongue letting you identify more flavors.

Latte Art.

Latte art is made with steamed milk poured into coffee with variations in the speed and height of pouring.

It is important not to heat the milk to the point of being frothy. Otherwise, you will lose the silkiness of the milk that makes good latte art.

Whether you’re a foodie who wants to explore more about coffee, a barista-in-the-making or an entrepreneur looking to enter the coffee business, you can discover everything you need to learn at UCC Coffee Academy.

UCC Coffee Academy, BGC

UCC Coffee Academy is located at 3rd Floor, Uptown Parade, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For more details or to get a listing of the courses available, visit its webpage or call +63 966 531 1843.

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

As part of our makeshift food crawl in Marikina’s Lamp Quarters over the holiday break, my friends and I proceeded to its newest coffee shop after our lunch at Chives Bistro.

Celsius has been cited as the place to be for students who want to a place of peace and quiet where they can study or regroup with their pals over cups of artisanal coffee.

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

It has also been hailed as part of the third wave coffee movement in Marikina. It certainly does its share in featuring high-quality coffee with beans sourced from coffee countries such as Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia, as well as our home-grown beans from Benguet Atok and Mount Apo Sablan.

These beans are brewed fresh upon order, bringing the aroma and flavors of premium coffee to a new generation of would-be coffee connoisseurs.

Well, the titas and titos our group joined the young ones in their coffee hangout where we enjoyed our orders of of:

Foamless Latte (Php145).

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Lounge Latte (Php160).

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Lounge Fine Chocolate (Php150).

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Cappuccino Frozen Cheesecake (Php150).

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

Celsius, Lamp Quarters

The coffee and chocolate drinks were full-flavored and served steaming hot while the coffee-based frozen dessert will surely appeal to lovers of sweets. These treats fueled a lively round of good-natured ribbing and gossiping among the titos and titas present.

Word of advice, though: try not to sit on the triangular stools. They’re bad for your posture and posterior. (Trust your tita on this!)

I’m so looking forward to coming back here and enjoying a round of coffee mocktails with the titas.

Celsius is located at Lamp Quarters, Gil Fernando Avenue, Santo Nino, Marikina City, open daily from 11am to 11pm.

Celsius Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my blog posts on breakfast/brunch joints around the metro: