Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Coffee is life! 

By VICKY VELOSO-BARRERA, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 11, 2024 5:00 am

I just recently, accidentally discovered the bliss of cold-brew coffee. For someone to whom coffee is life, or who cannot imagine starting a day of life without coffee, this is a godsend!

I used to think that cold-brew coffee was a kind of contradiction in terms—don’t I need heat to extract all the flavor out of the beans I go out of my way to lug home by the kilo from Baguio? And isn’t a chilly morning in Baguio the best time ever to sip a big mug of piping-hot Benguet arabica, for that matter?

I can’t get up to Baguio just yet, but no matter where I am in the world, I need that caffeine jolt almost as soon as I get up. When out of town I bring extra sachets of (shudder) instant coffee and creamer in case the hotel/ resort/ home I’m staying at is in short supply.

My early-morning nook complete with mug made by my husband at Tahanan Pottery and coffee beans from Leon, Iloilo

 Not to give instant coffee a bad rap; I actually identify that rough-tasting brew, that needs to be drowned in creamer and sugar, with a spirit of adventure. I usually drink instant when I’m out of town, it’s four in the morning and there’s no brewed coffee to be had. This was before the age of drip coffee sachets.

Used to be, the further you went to remote areas, the less chances there were of chancing upon some brewed coffee.

Three decades ago, when I was involved with an NGO called ADVANCE, there was no brewed coffee to be had beyond Candon, Ilocos Sur. I was sourcing abel, or woven fabrics up north, and the Dunkin’ Donuts in this town was the last place to down cups of brew with a view of the lovely church with the spirally patterns on its facade.

Kakanin goes best with locally-grown coffee! As served up at Papakape, which is trying to make it known that great Robusta single-origin coffee is now grown in Iloilo.

These days a trip up north, south, east, or west will yield many casual, trendy, and downright trendy coffee spots. We have become very sophisticated in our taste for brewed, embracing every formulation ever invented by the Italians while creating our own coffee identity. Traditional Batangas beans just ground, boiled up, and strained yield a delicious brew with a definite caffeine kick.

Since our global and local weather only seems to get hotter, and the summer season seems to lengthen every year, I have recently taken to drinking my coffee cold.

I am actually not a fan of iced coffee, because I think ice dilutes the flavor. What I mean then is that I brew my coffee the day before, blend it with low-fat milk to make the caffe latte I love, and stick it in the fridge, to be enjoyed cold the following morning.

The glass house that IG made famous serves up Robusta from Leon, Iloilo, with its team of baristas Lauren Sauler, Jet del Rosario, and Elijah Ng.

Speaking of cafe lattes, I have had rabbits named after every coffee drink you can think of. You guessed the colors of rabbits named Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Mochaccino, Espresso, and Double Espresso. They have been immortalized forever as characters in The Black Cloud, Book 1 of my first rabbit series.

Sometimes I leave the coffee in my French press overnight when there’s no more space in the mini ref outside my bedroom, then combine it with the usual low-fat in the morning.

Then I noticed that this cold, overnight coffee tasted much smoother than my usual and it didn’t have that bitter aftertaste coffee can often have. Google confirmed that I had indeed stumbled across the simple recipe for cold-brewed that Starbucks will sell to you at a premium.

Apart from the coffee-addicted Italians, the Vietnamese make wonderful concoctions out of their locally grown Robusta, which to me carries the scent of chocolate. I buy my Vietnamese coffee from Banh Mi Kitchen, which has branches at SM The Block, Fisher Mall, etc. The brand they sell is Damn Strong, and it is exactly that. Bahn Mi Kitchen also sells the traditional Vietnamese coffee cup/ strainer but you can use whatever you use to make your brewed coffee.

What gives Vietnamese coffee its unique flavor is the addition of condensed milk, an unctuous substance that adds deliciousness to anything. But Coco Frio in Siargao takes it even further by blending Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and gata. One sip and you have gone to coffee heaven.

At a recent event at the Palanan branch of Papakape, we were introduced to Robusta produced by the municipality of Leon in Iloilo. It also has that chocolatey scent and taste and is delicious with evap and sugar (simple) syrup as presented. As with Vietnamese coffee, the dairy and sweetener soften the rough edges of this particular Robusta bean.

But creamer and sugar are to me optional with our local Liberica beans, known as the insomnia-inducing barako coffee so needed by students cramming at night. I learned this after enjoying cups of yummy barako at my classmate Maric’s Batangas estate. I could not sleep that night.

Instagram, in particular, is the genius that serves up posts, reels and videos of must-make coffee concoctions. My daughter Hannah sent me one of an Italian (I presume) whipping up a sabayon of egg yolks and sugar, to which he adds a shot of espresso. If you come across this, don’t believe the clown who says it takes two hours of whipping to produce that fluffy sabayon; two minutes will suffice.

This morning I noted a message from Hannah on Insta and of course it was another coffee video, this time of another presumed Italian using an empty soda bottle to whip cream and coffee into a cloudlike froth.

There are few coffee desserts I like, since I prefer my coffee in its liquid form. I do make a mean coffee buttercream sans rival and I have made the tiramisu recipe of Stanley Tucci, this from one of his cookbooks that I own. I also plan to make next the tiramisu recipe of Pierre Koffman from his autobiography/ cookbook/ ode to his Michelin-starred restaurant Le Tante Claire. The mascarpone is already waiting in the fridge.

As I write this, it’s now almost five in the morning and you might have guessed that I was up even earlier. Yes, this is my quiet time and when I write best, with no distractions save the sound of rain, which is threatening to make me fall asleep.

Time for that next mug!