More coffee buddies!


Eight coffee drinkers came to my place earlier this afternoon to get a taste of my freshly roasted Moka Kadir and Brazil Moreninha Formosa. We almost used up my beans, supposed to last until New Year’s Day, in this coffee session. It was my way of saying thank you to these guys, photographers all, for joining me in our volunteer shoot for the Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP).

Belated Christmas coffee!

xmaspackage Look what the delivery man brought today! 10.5 lbs of specialty grade green coffee beans, from Sweet Maria’s and GCBC. 2Go didn’t make it in time for Christmas, but still perfect for the holidays. Yummy coffees these are, courtesy of Santa Dante. Gotta invite some coffee buddies in the next few days.

Just to whet your appetite, presenting the new arrivals … Read more

What you need to start roasting


So you think you need big money to start roasting your own coffee? Wrong!

Roasting is basically just subjecting the beans to high heat. It’s just cooking. After the roast, you need to cool the beans fast, or it’ll continue to roast and ruin the coffee.

There are quite a variety of coffee roasters available, some dirt cheap, some super expensive. But we’re “on a budget here,” right? So let’s start with the cheapest, most primitive approach – pan roasting.

Here’s what you need to start roasting:
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Buying the world’s best green coffee beans

I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t go out at night, I don’t play golf nor badminton, I seldom watch movies (just DVDs at home, coz there’s not really a good movie house around here). So, as you can see, I don’t waste money on useless things. So instead of throwing away money on vices, I spend it on something I really enjoy, something that also makes other people around me happy.

So every now and then, I treat myself by buying some of the world’s best coffee from online shops.

These coffees are usually from South and Central America, Africa, and some parts of Asia. In the US, coffee can only grow in Hawaii. Australia has also recently started growing coffee and selling them on a commercial scale.

Because the US is perhaps the Philippines’s closest business partner, I find it easier to buy from online shops there. Shipping items, in my experience, is fastest and cheapest between the Philippines and the US. So aside from coffee, I actually buy a lot of things from online shops based in the US — books, CDs, cameras and accessories, computer stuff, and anything else interesting I can find on ebay or Amazon.
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The search for local green beans

Guatemala Antigua green coffee beans

Guatemala Antigua green coffee beans

MAYBE it was a mistake on my part, getting a taste of the world’s best coffee first before trying the locally available ones. Because once you’re spoiled with the best, meaning, the top 5 percent of the coffee harvests of the world’s best coffee-growing regions, and you roast the beans yourself, and you know how to brew properly, you’d end up becoming a coffee snob. Really!

So I suggest you don’t commit that mistake, coz we’re talking “Achieving coffee nirvana at home ON A BUDGET” here. So let’s see what’s locally available.
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Coffee with Miriam

Last May 2008, I attended a workshop on narrative reporting in Davao held by my group, MindaNews. We had two really great teachers — Prof. Janet E. Steele of George Washington University and Andreas Harsono of Jakarta. I enjoyed the workshop a lot despite the hectic schedule, lots and lots of readings, and tons of assignment that I never felt so toxic in my life. It was beating deadlines more than I experienced as a reporter, even when I was still beating daily deadlines as a news reporter in Manila.

Here’s one of the writing assignments under Mr. Harsono, which shows one reason why I enjoy coffee more, more than the great taste and aroma we’re getting from freshly roasted specialty grade coffee:
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How I got hooked

My curiosity about coffee started when my wife brought home some ground coffee from Starbucks during one of her trips in Manila, so that finally, we can use the coffeemaker given to her as a gift long ago. “Wow, this is nice,” I said.

Miyam was more into coffee, while I was the SwissMiss kind of guy, preferring hot chocolate. But having brewed coffee at home changed that, and I switched to coffee full-time. Since we’re a million miles away from the nearest Starbucks branch, we bought what was more readily available — either the already ground Monk’s Blend from the monastery in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, or the whole beans from Bo’s Coffee Club, which I had ground in the coffee shop coz I didn’t have a grinder then. Both are available in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City, 90 kilometers away.

We enjoyed these coffees in our ignorance, as I’m sure many of you do. Then we debated how to store coffee properly. Maybe a glass container with a tight lid? Is cork enough? Or should it have a rubber lining serving as a gasket? Until I came across this wonderful essay on “Freshness & Coffee Storage.”
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Look who came for coffee!

Coffee buddies

Some of my coffee buddies, sipping Brazil Moreninha Formosa and Yemen Mokha Sanani. Such an international crowd, eh? (L-R) Rogier from The Netherlands, Fr. Henri from Cameroon, Fr. Adam from Tanzania (but he loves to joke he’s Bol-anon), Mathieu from France, and yours truly. When I text these people if they wanna drop by for coffee, I always get a big YES! Sometimes they’d even invite themselves. In this case, Mathieu said he’d love to have one more coffee session before he leaves for France for good in the next few days. Our sort of “despedida” party for Math, over some cups of freshly roasted specialty coffee and sweets from Candy’s. Bon voyage!

The secret to good coffee

The secret to good coffee is … tadaaaaa … freshly roasted good quality coffee beans! Actually, it’s no secret at all, coz it’s been discussed gazillion times over the Web.

Coffee is just like most foods — best if freshly cooked, sucks if stale. Simple as that. That’s why I just don’t understand why most coffee shops, despite the hundreds of thousands of pesos, maybe even millions, they spend on the place, equipment and staff training, just don’t get this. Have you tried eating your favorite dish a month or two after it was cooked? Is it as good as when it was fresh? You may put it in the ref, or even freezer, vacuum pack it, then microwave it later, but your stale favorite dish just can’t match the one that’s freshly cooked. It may even taste ugly.

I’m not saying that the best equipment won’t contribute to good coffee. But if you start with stale coffee beans in the first place, the best equipment just can’t do anything to improve the taste of your coffee.

“So, Bob, why not just buy freshly roasted coffee beans?” Read more

So you love coffee?

Chances are, your early morning cup of java, or even your brew from your favorite coffee shop, is …

  • crap, if you’re into instant, and
  • stale, if you’re into brewed coffee.

Well, let’s not even talk instant coffee here, okay? Let’s not waste our precious time. So henceforth, let’s talk about coffee, the beverage that comes from a bean, not powder.

I can read what’s in your mind: “Stale?! Wait, Bob, my coffee is from that giant company with a mermaid in its green logo! Some are even imported from Italy! They even have beautiful shiny packaging with exceptional design. And you say these are stale coffee?”

Unfortunately, YES, they’re stale coffee. In my native tongue — “Bahaw!” Read more