Made in Basilan

It’s not all fighting in this island. I learned that the Moro, though not so the younger generation, love coffee which Bisaya people here find strange as they’re not coffee drinkers. Or, should I say coffee is a staple for these natives- not the instant kind but the real brew. A typical family stores the drink in a flask or thermos to keep it hot throughout the day. They like it strong and sweet. Reminds me of Moroccan coffee.

coffee #madeinBasilan


Spread the love

coffee body scrub from Starbucks' coffee grounds
Coffee grounds from Starbucks (you have to ask for it in branches where it isn’t openly displayed) can be upcycled into homemade body scrub. Spread the love is the word this Christmas season, and couples could do just that, literally, in true holiday spirit. (images via Starbucks Philippines and glaminati)

Postcards from around the Philippines: a different Starbucks experience

A different Starbucks experience
The couple who own the resort where we stayed in Irosin, Sorsogon had been expats. Meaning, accommodation and food as well as service were of five star quality. We even planned our menu with the cook who ensured we had fresh food everyday. Coffee’s just the three-in-one mix though. But the owners’ collection of authentic Starbucks sets they had us use compensated for the lack of fresh brew. Behind us, our backdrop, at the back of the resort, was an altogether different kind of brew happening- Mt. Bulusan spewing ash.



Food finds: Coffee House Sessions

coffee house sessions baguio cityThat afternoon was the first this year when the City’s temperature dipped to bone-chilling cold. It had been a long day at the office and we were restless from hunger. A colleague joked another that he owed us coffee. He was hired in December and office practice is that new staff would take the rest out to eat on his or her first pay. “Sure, let’s go!” he said.

As the cat was away, we hied to this coffee shop at the Caltex station on Legarda Road.

I said I’d try their brew with a shot of whisky. “Really?” asked colleagues. “You sure that’s good?”

I replied in the positive. I really did need something to warm me up. They ordered the same.

We had pancakes and kropek (cracklings) to go with our drinks. I read ‘fish and chips’ on the menu too late. Well, next time.

I and another colleague, also a coffee drinker, enjoyed our cupfuls. The two others did not. They didn’t like the taste of whiskey in their drink and their coffee was too black. I told them the whisky could be remedied by adding in cream which the barista should’ve done in the first place. We asked for fresh cream or milk. They didn’t have it so my colleagues made do with powdered creamer. That mixed in, they said their coffee tasted much better. I went back to enjoying my drink.

It took time for our food to arrive though. The pancakes were not as fluffy but we cleaned our plates nonetheless. Did I say we were hungry as wolves? Even kropek dipped in vinegar tasted divine with whisky and coffee. If we haven’t noticed the time – nearly 5 o’clock – we’d have ordered another platter. Next time. Perhaps then, rum instead of whiskey.

The place is open 24/7.

These days, particularly early mornings, McDonald’s in Baguio City are full and it’s not because of it’s burgers or chicken, but rather for it’s brewed coffee, breakfast meals, and free reading of the day’s paper. And it’s thanks to the City’s senior citizens. The fastfood outlet,  where the fresh coffee (PhP25 for small, PhP35 for medium) and breakfast are priced within their budget (less the 20% mandatory discount) which is primarily from pension allowance, is now this demographic’s new watering hole in the wake of the closures of their old meeting places i.e. Star Cafe and Dainty Restaurant. Also, because senior citizens have reached that age when they’re past agonizing over people’s reactions to what they say, their straightforward feedback on the outlets’ products and services keep the crew always on their toes. For instance, there was this old lady at the counter who made very specific order for her coffee. She told the cashier, I want it fresh d’you hear? Put fresh beans into your machine, OK? The crew are working college students, and when their grandparents tell them something straight to their faces they just do. Besides there’s no argument against expert palates that have tasted coffee for 60 years or so.

Hear the birds

Some mornings after sending the kids to school, I go downtown for coffee in my favorite spot – the resto’s balcony above the main City street – and observe the City unfolds.  Miraculously, there’s still birds chirping.  The time was also the perfect time to bathe in the City’s sun and get natural Vitamin D.  I could also think in peace – I’m freelancing as an evaluator – as the street is relatively empty.  Right after my second cup, however, people begin populating the streets.  Time to pay up and go.


Cafe Veniz

This is one of the few places in the city where you can have unlimited brewed coffee.  You could ask for fresh milk instead of their standard serving of powdered.  But if you prefer a liquored cup, there’s the whisky-laced Irish Cream Coffee.  Mornings are a good time to go if you want quiet.

More reviews of the place here.

HE Brews Bookstore and Cafe

Potted plants at the trellised entrance greet the customer.  These may be why the cafe is named Graceful Flowers.  The cafe is on the rooftop of Porta Vaga Mall, on the east exit to the Baguio Cathedral.  It is partly owned by the Diocese of Baguio-Benguet.  Books are everywhere, for sale.  Religious and spiritual reading, of course.  Religious records, too.

Last I ate there, a young woman on the foyer was strumming her guitar, filling the place with gently lulling notes.  The menu offered breakfast fare, sandwiches, pasta, omelettes.  I’ve tried their Cheese and Mushroom Omelette and Mint Liqeur Coffee (the first time, I forgot to order the coffee at full strength).  The food cost me half of what most cafes in town charge.

books for sale at the ground floor

You may choose to dine by the cashier counter on the ground floor or at the second floor.  The second floor offers a sweeping view of the tops of buildings on Session Road including SM and a glimpse of Harrison Road and the Athletic Bowl.  When I was there, the rest of the customers were three young men discussing their film project.  This and more serious talk could be had here because of the view and quiet location.  While the books on the ground floor are for sale, those on the second floor are for reading and if you’ve the luxury of time you could spend one whole afternoon poring over the books.  Or, watching and capturing the moods  of the Baguio City sky.

lounge seats on second floor
view from the second floor
view from the second floor