Friday, September 29, 2006

Long Overdue Updates!

Hi everyone!

I know it's been really long since I made my last post or review. Hapinas and school have kept me very busy as of late. But I do have pending reviews on coffee shops that I will add in the next few days!

For everyone who has viewed this blog, thanks very much and please keep coming back! For sure, I will continue to write about the coffee adventures I have whilst touring the different coffee establishments all over the Metro.

GOD bless!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hapinas 101

Hapinas Merch Plug

Monday, August 21, 2006

Watch Hapinas every morning 8 a.m. on QTV!

I know this is off topic for this blog, but I just want to plug this in.

I for one, agree with other people that there is just too much bad news on TV. Upon waking up, you turn on the TV and hear about rising economic, political and social problems our country is suffering from.

After all, who wants to hear about murder, rape, drugs, traffic and all other bad news every morning! Enter stage left... Hapinas! A 30-minute show that showcases man on the street jokes and laughter, to start the day right... with a smile!

It's a small gesture to fix the problems of the world, but with many people starting their day happy and with a smile on their faces, hopefully laughter and smiles will spread like wildfire.

So, beat the daily grind of bad news and depressing news!

Catch HaPinas on QTV Channel 11 (Channel 24 on SkyCable) and catch 30 minutes of jokes, laughs and stress tips to help start the day right... WITH A SMILE!

HaPinas airs Monday to Friday 8a.m. on QTV.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Coffee House

Found this video on YouTube, which is an amazing concept for an online video databank. It's comparable to a video version of Wikipedia, with the basic component being that users have the liberty to add or edit the content.

Back to the video, it's around 10 minutes long, but very artistic, as it shows different ways to make "coffee art"

Looks so good, it's a shame to actually drink and spoil the art. But very impressive nonetheless!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Starbucks Libis: Convenient and Homey

Chelley and I went with a few friends to a bar in Ortigas, and for a nightcap decided to stop by Starbucks in Libis. I always had a preference for this particular location. The convenience of location, free parking, good atmosphere and friendly staff are the qualities that bring this branch to one of my top Starbucks in the Metro.

I find the location very ideal, since it’s along C-5 going northbound. It’s in a compound slightly far from Eastwood City, so the noise and traffic are left a good distance away. The very limited parking spaces fronting the branch can become a bit of a hassle but a good alternative is in the area behind the compound. Best of all, parking is free!

This branch is particularly roomy. There are a good number of tables both outside and inside the café. Additionally, there are a few couches and a bar table as well. This would definitely be an ideal location for some business meetings and chat sessions. I have studied here quite a number of occasions, and have only a few gripes. First, laptop users will have trouble plugging in, since only around two to three electrical outlets are available and working. Second, although not necessarily a gripe, this branch is consistent in having a very cold atmosphere, so bring a sweater or jacket. I had to learn this the hard way, warming my hands on my laptop exhaust fan and making occasional trips outside to defrost myself.

Otherwise, this is a very ideal location. It can become full at times and finding a table can be a challenge. But if you plan on staying long, this is a good place to hang out in, study, read a book or just kill time.

I had a Grande Coffee Jelly Frappuccino Lite in my Starbucks Traveler Mug. I find it to be very convenient, and whenever I order Starbucks drinks, I get a 5 peso discount for using the mug. I guess it’s their way of passing on the savings of not using a paper cup to the consumer, as well as promoting environmental conservation.

This really is one of the good branches to spend time in, so if you are thinking of where in the Libis area you can set a business meeting, study session or bonding session with friends, this is the perfect place.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bo's Coffee: Local Blend, Local Identity

I've always thought of trying out Bo's Coffee since I saw their branch in Glorietta 4. But for one reason or another, never seemed to have done so. Now, I finally had that chance, in their newest branch in SM's Mall of Asia.

It's a busy family day Sunday, with droves of people walking along the long halls of this gigantic mall. Comfy shoes are a definite necessity to really be able to explore the mall in its entirety. Mom and Dad went to watch Superman Returns on Imax 3D, and since I already saw it, preferred to go malling instead.

The location of Bo's Coffee here is ideal, directly in front of one of the activity centers in the mall. Even now, a rock concert has brought a lot of people to try to get a glimpse of the top rock bands in the country. I'm impressed with the acoustics, with the door closed, the loud music is not as distracting within the coffee shop as one would expect. As you can see from the picture on the left, a lot of people are overlooking the concert right outside the cafe's glass windows.

Inside the shop is another story altogether. This place began somewhat empty, and quickly became packed! I was fortunate to have been able to take a shot of the place while it was still somewhat empty, which was no longer true in a matter of minutes. All tables, couches and even the barstools behind me were suddenly taken.

It was a hot day, and after a long walk, felt parched. I ordered a cold drink, a Coffee Froccinno and a Cream Puff. Presentation is a definite skill of the baristas, and no matter what you order, a good presentation adds that extra touch. I didn't expect to have my desert drizzled with extra caramel syrup and served in those chic large square plates you usually see in swanky restos or on those classy cooking TV shows. But as you can see, even a simple desert like the cream puff can be brought out in a different light with minimal effort.

Flavor gave the presentation a run for its money. If one would try to assess which of the two is the best aspect of the Bo's Coffee experience, the race would indeed be tight. The cream puff was fresh and full of that sweet creamy filling, and the bread was fresh and tasty. The Froccinno
was refreshing, and had a hint of coconut in it.

The reading material though had much to be desired. The selection was very limited, mostly women's magazines and some freebie mags full of ads. However I did like how the magazines were presented, laid down on a counter instead of being stuffed onto a magazine rack on the floor. Other magazine racks have been stuffed with new and old newspapers with sections split up and racked in between a year old copy of Cosmo.

Overall, a really good experience here. Good food, good drink, great atmosphere and pleasant and helpful staff make this an ideal place to go. It's quite spacious by the way, and if you find yourself in the area, this would be an excellent place to hold a quick meeting with clients or with friends.

Save the Barako!

I knew the agricultural sector of the Philippines was hard off, but I had no idea that Barako, a generic name for Philippine Liberica coffee, and is best known for being grown in the province of Batangas. Barako is known for being characteristically strong in taste with a good pungent odor and a robust body. For those who may not know what exactly it is, walk into any Figaro branch, and chances are you'd smell a batch of Barako freshly ground, it's a great smell that fills up a room and really puts one in the mood for a good cup of coffee.

And now, it's in threat of extinction. Apparently, the economics of producing Barako coffee is no longer feasible, and farmers are dumping the idea. It's currently an export worth around USD150 thousand per year and from the way things are going, there is a need to plant 100,000 trees in the next five years just for the species to survive.

I know I'm not in any position to be a philanthropist and donate a huge amount, but in the spirit of volunteerism I decided to put in a link on the sidebar of this blog. So please click it and give the website a good read, you may have exactly what it takes to help out and save a uniquely Filipino coffee.

GOD bless!

Gloria Jean's Glorietta 3: A Haven for Insomniacs Part 3

Day 3: Criminal Procedure Exam again

Last week's scheduled exam was postponed due to the typhoon that hit the Metro, and was moved to the following Thursday. It's now the night before the big exam, and here I am again in my favorite place to study hitting the books.

Allan, Cleo, Dandee, and Sj were here with me a while ago, but left around midnight. I decided to stay to finish up reading, and waited since Sam and Jojo said they'd follow. Yet again, the cafe is almost empty except for me, and I'm enjoying this peace and quiet.

I felt my sweet tooth nagging me, so I gave in and ordered a slice of dulce de leche cheesecake and an Americano. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cheesecake was just glorious and heavenly. The cheesecake was rich and creamy, and the topping was nice and sweet. On first look, you'd might think that you got gypped, since you paid around 120 bucks for a small slice. But its actually a tightly packed cake full of creamy goodness. You can't really eat too much of it as it's so good.

By rough translation, dulce de leche means milk candy, and refers to the custard-like topping on top of the cheesecake itself. I forgot to mention earlier about the crust. Most other cheesecakes I've tried have crusts that aren't mixed well, meaning that you can taste the sugar granules in the graham cracker ground. Other times, although refrigerated, the crust is hard, dry and crumbly, which is a shame if the cake is smooth and creamy. This is definitely one cheesecake I'd recommend for you hardcore cheesecake fans or for anyone just craving a creamy cake.

Jojo, Sam and Reyan came in around 2 a.m., and we stayed and finished studying till 4 a.m. One thing that's good about studying at this schedule it that traffic is so light at this time, I could get home in Paranaque in 15 minutes. Jojo, who lives in Cavite, said once that he made it home in only 30 minutes. And so ends this series on Gloria Jean's Glorietta 3, at least for the moment. To everyone, enjoy life and have a great week ahead! GOD bless! :)

Gloria Jean's Glorietta 3: A Haven for Insomniacs Part 2

Day 2: Studying for Criminal Procedure Exam

This time, Jojo and I are here again studying for an upcoming exam two days from now. Its a weekday, being Tuesday, and these are the times we best enjoy studying here, since it's not very busy and there are few distractions.

It was a cold and long day, so I wanted something hot to soothe my throat and to give me a strong jolt to keep awake. I asked the barista what was a good strong coffee, and she suggested a shot of espresso. I declined, although I wanted something strong, a thick shot of espresso might make the nerves in my head explode, kidding, of course. So I went with the Cafe Americano, which is really just two shots of espresso with hot water added. Nothing fancy, but good and strong with robust flavor.

Jojo had his usual cold Chiller drinks. Come to think of it, I've never seen him take a hot coffee, for some reason, no matter what cafe we are studying in, it's always iced or blended with ice. Today, he ordered a large Choco Macademia Chiller. Never tried it myself, but he seems to enjoy it so it must be good.

For a snack, I ordered a Chocolate Chip Cookie, which may seem pricey for 50 bucks, but the picture doesn't do it much justice. It's a big cookie, like the size of my palm and half of my outstretched fingers, and gives just enough of a sugar rush for two. Actually it was a bit on the sweet side, but it complemented my bitter Americano nicely.

This time, the peace and quiet is a stark reversal of that here last week on Friday night. Tonight, it's practically ours to occupy, most of the other customers are outside in the smoking area. Of course, the fact that it's around 2 a.m. on a weeknight is an obvious reason for that fact. Around 3 a.m., the staffs switch off the lights in some areas that are unoccupied, and dim the lights in the display case, to save on electrical expenses for sure. That's how abandoned this area is at this time, and we are the only ones here left. But even in the dimmer fluorescent lighting, those chocolate and cheesecakes look so tempting.

This really is a great place to be if you need to study, or have a late night cap, or if you're in the area and are craving for coffee and pastries at 3 in the morning. The fact that it's a 24-hour place and is in the Makati area is a big factor for us, since our campus is here as well. Parking is pricey, though, especially on weekdays. A long 6-8 hour parking session would cover the time needed for dinner, some malling, and around 5 hours of study, and would cost within the range of 70-100 bucks.

During the day, this will be a great place to meet with old friends or have a quick business meeting if you're in the mall area. Good food, coffee, pastries and excellent service in a nice and quaint place.

Gloria Jean's Glorietta 3: A Haven for Insomniacs Part 1

Whenever the exams season comes to town for us trimestral law students, we always find ourselves burning the midnight oil in group study sessions. Through the conversational exchange of the topics and principles of law, we find that we attain better mental retention of the essentials in preparation for our exams.

Considering that convenience and time are of the essence, an ideal location is found in Gloria Jean's Coffees Glorietta 3 branch. We have been here so many times over the past two years that we humorously consider ourselves as "stockholders". The fact that it's a 24-hour coffee shop is obviously a major consideration for us who are here to burn the midnight oil.

Over the past two weeks I have found myself here three times, and I'll discuss each separately.

Day 1: Studying for Law on Sales Exam

While the rest of the people our age are in clubs, bars and concerts, myself, Allan, Dandee, Jojo and Cleo find ourselves here, dissecting the books and cases preparing for an upcoming exam. We always enjoy staying here for our group study sessions. We feel comfortable here, in the soft couches. The seats are softer than those in other coffee shops, at least to my mind. I also enjoy the artistic renditions of their products on the walls. The overall atmosphere is reminiscent of a classic, quaint coffee shop like those you see in movies and TV in New York.

The staff are friendly and very accommodating, even when we need a perk up of caffeine at 2:30 in the morning.
After a long day that is far from over, I find that a nice large cafe latte just hits the spot. Dandee had a similar notion, and ordered a cappuccino. I mean, isn't that just a lovely sight... A latte and a cappuccino, milky and frothy, invitingly and teasingly delicious. And in the backdrop, you see the stress and strain embodied in highlighters and bookmarks. hehe
The presentation of the coffee adds that extra bit that makes the experience even more enjoyable, as seen on my latte on the left.

This particular shot I just had to take. It symbolizes how in the study of law, we humble students do need all the help we can get. And even with the constant hit of caffeine, it just isn't easy. I mean, just look at my poor latte, caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Being a Friday night, this place is quite packed with people readying for a night of partying or just relaxing after a long week and looking forward to the days of rest ahead. Noise level is quite high, with the combination of chatter and the loud music mixing together to be a slight nuisance to the ears, but very bearable. To date, the worst time I had trying to study was in a mall when a mall tour of celebs was also scheduled, and amidst the dancing and singing, the screaming crowds of fans really made it impossible to hear oneself think, let alone concentrate of studies.

Technical Problems

Had a few problems this week, while I was doing some of my posts. While using Internet Explorer, my pictures wouldn't upload properly. Only now was I able to read a forum that said that using Mozilla's Firefox cures the problem.

Lo and behold, it does! And now I'm off to catch up on my post backlog!

Hope you all enjoy the reviews!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tea Tarik: Harmony of Great Flavor

This may seem a bit off-topic, but I wanted to make a post about one of my all-time favourite drinks. It's called Teh Tarik. Malay etymology states that teh = tea and tarik = to pull, and the combination being a sweet and frothy milk tea.

I first learned about teh tarik before my first trip to Singapore in 2005, but for some reason never got to try it in the four days I was there. That's why when I returned last May, I made it a point to finally try it out. You'd find it more often in Hawker Centers or Coffee places like Kopitiam and Kopi Roti, and it's definitely a must-try.

It's more popular in Malaysia, though, and is called the country's de facto national drink.

The process of making teh tarik is part of the overall experience, when the barista adds tea to a cup containing milk. Then comes the tarik part, where the barista pours the tea from a hand held high into a container held in a hand below, over and over again, thus resulting in air being infused into the milky tea. If you're fortunate enough to find a barista who is willing to put on a show, you'll end up enjoying an entertaining display of skill that results in a hot, creamy, and sweet tea drink.

I found a few pictures on the net of the process of making teh tarik, but some of the good ones were copyrighted. Kudos and big thanks to the fun crew of The Inn Crowd Backpackers Hostel Singapore for giving me permission to use the picture seen above. That’s a shot of teh tarik being made by an Indian fellow in Little India, a good and very cultural area of Singapore.

If any of you take a trip to Malaysia or Singapore make sure to look for teh tarik at a hawker center or coffee shop, it's really a great treat, and I miss having it since I'm back in Manila.

Thanks to the Inn Crowd! Visit their site for a great collection of Singapore tourist information at