3-in-1, anyone?

apo1

Photo: Roger Marcelo

Yeah, it’s been a long time since I drank instant. But at somewhere in the vicinity of 7,500 feet above sea level, I got no choice really. So I drank that Maxwell House Original 3 in 1!

When my life-long dream of climbing up Mt. Apo, the country’s highest mountain at 9,692 feet, was about to be realized more than a week ago, I was dreaming, too, of bringing my coffee kit there and have specialty coffee in the mountains. In the highest peak, no less.

So the night before we drove to Davao City, then Kidapawan City for our trek up Mt. Apo, I roasted some Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Koke beans. But as I was packing up later that night, I thought it would be too much hassle to bring my coffee gear — a manual travel burr grinder and the Aeropress. My friend Keith was to bring a burner, so there should be no problem heating water there. But the thought that climbing up would be so tiring, and there would be so many of us up there, discouraged me to have specialty coffee somewhere near heaven. It was a tree planting activity with over a hundred participants.
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Coffee and hot bread

My first home-baked bread

My first home-baked bread. (All photos by Arkay T.)

What kept me silent on this blog for some time? It’s coz I’m into another hobby! Not about coffee, but something too closely related to it.

I’m now baking my own bread!

Well, I’m not actually into baking, but I found the baking equivalent of, um, instant coffee — automatic bread maker.

I know I know … you non-rice eating folks knew about this thing for the longest time. But for us Pinoys, this is something as hi-tech and as rare as a dishwasher! (You Americans and Europeans, I bet you don’t have rice cookers at home, right?)

In fact, I heard of the bread machine only about a year ago. I was doing a shoot for a book project of an NGO, the Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) here in the Lanao provinces in Mindanao. I was with the writer, Nicole, a Dutch girl. [From being a journalist to development worker, she’s now into Thai massage!] While having bread in some remote area somewhere one early morning, Nicole mentioned about missing her bread maker back home, of this automated machine that will let her make bread at home without much work, program it so that she’d have hot, freshly baked bread upon waking up in the morning.
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Yemen and Ethiopian beans, and 3 press pots

Green beans and French presses

Green beans and French presses

Wow, what a great day today! Two packages arrived. All related to coffee, of course!

First is the 15-pound USPS flatrate box, containing, what else, green coffee beans — 5 lbs of Yemen Hufashi and 10 lbs of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. As usual, distributed at GCBC, sourced from Café Imports. These coffees are my belated birthday gift for myself, as I mentioned in my post a few weeks back. The package reached Iligan, from the US, in 13 days. Not bad.

Yemeni and Ethiopian coffees, ahhh …. still my favorite after two years into this roasting hobby. The Yemen cupped an average of 88.6 at GCBC, while the Yirg averaged at 89.2. I got more of the Yirg simply coz it’s cheaper.

The second came in an LBC package — tree small-sized French presses. These are the plungers I traded with my sangay for three bigger ones, so I could hoard more and more of these press pots, which is now my favorite coffee maker. A proud owner of 8 French presses!

I’m gonna be busy roasting some beans tonight!
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A trip to coffeeland

With ripe coffee cherries. [Photo by Roger]

With ripe coffee cherries. Photo by Roger

My first encounter with a coffee plant was in 4th grade, when our teacher, Mrs. Abragan, ordered me and a classmate to go look for some branches for the class Christmas tree. Candidates were that of a jackfruit, or coffee, coz they branch out beautifully. We saw the coffee tree first. So we cut it. It didn’t cross our mind that there has got to be an owner somewhere. When the farmer saw us, he unleashed his dogs. We ran as fast as we could, the coffee tree in tow. I had to jump through a barbed wire as high as my chest, and hurdled it easily. My slippers didn’t even let go in the mud. So that afternoon, our class had a Christmas tree!

I’ve seen coffee trees since then, the most of them was during a trip to Patikul in Sulu island summer of last year. The coffee culture in Sulu goes way back, maybe coz Sulu has among the oldest history in the Philippines, and the Tausugs’ trade with the rest of Asia is well documented. There, they won’t offer you soft drinks as in the rest of the Philippines; they’d offer coffee instead. But really sweet coffee, poured into your cup from large kettles. The coffee trees were just along the highway, the road connecting Patikul to capital Jolo. As far as I could tell, they were of the Robusta variety. They appear to also just grow everywhere, not really farmed. But going to a coffee farm in a place like Sulu just didn’t cross my mind, and I have no plans, too.

Since getting into this hobby, I’ve long wished visiting a coffee farm. If I’ve been chasing green coffee beans all over Mindanao these past two years, naturally the next move would be visiting coffee farms.
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And now there are 5

Plungers galore!

Plungers galore!

Whoa! I now own five French presses (a.k.a. press pots, coffee plungers)!!!

My friend and ‘sangay’ Bob just convinced me to take a second look at the French press. In our “cupping” session at his place recently, he let me try his brew. And I liked it. So these past few days I gave it a try, setting aside my Aeropress momentarily. Looks like the French press won for now. Maybe until I get the proper filter for the inverted method of the Aeropress, I’ll do French press in the meantime. But the Aeropress will still see action, especially when doing a cold brew, or for my improvized cappuccino.

This morning I dropped by a surplus shop in neighboring Ozamiz City, a place called Brokenhaus. Yeah, that’s spelled B-R-O-K-E-N. Its Cagayan de Oro branch is spelled Brockenhaus. I don’t know which is correct. I heard this place is owned by a Filipina married to a Swiss guy, and they’ve been shipping Swiss and other European used items in huge containers. My wife loves to visit these two shops every chance we get; now, Miyam had a lecture to cardiologists in Ozamiz and Oroquieta. Last year, I got a Moka Pot from this branch in Ozamiz.

This time around, I saw an unbranded big French press that’s made in Switzerland lying around, along with cups and saucers. This plunger can do 4 regular cups, although in Europe they call this size as 8-cup, coz I heard they use smaller cups there they call tasse or something.
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Cupping at Mindanao Bob’s

Yours truly doing the inverted Aeropress. Mindanao Bob behind me.

Yours truly doing the inverted Aeropress. Mindanao Bob behind me.

So I went to Davao last week for a short meeting on Friday the 13th, then for coffee adventures.

Morning we went to SM to help Bob Martin to select kitchen items for roasting coffee. We got the simplest and cheapest of them all — a small aluminum rice pot, and a colander.

But we started the evening by “cupping” six different kinds of coffees — 5 from the Cordillera area up north in Luzon island, and the Red Sea blend, a mix of beans from Yemen and Ethiopia. Cupping is in quotation marks, coz it’s not the true cupping coffee professionals do. Our method is just to brew it the way we want it (Aeropress & French press), and drink it the way we want it, black or with sugar, or anything.
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Cordillera coffees

Cordillera coffees

Cordillera coffees

Look what arrived in the mail today! Four arabica green coffee beans from the Cordillera region up north in Luzon island. As usual, I got these from Serenity Coffee, who has been my almost sole supplier of local green beans.

L-R: La Trinidad, Bobok, Yaygan and Shilan.

They look promising. Minimal defects, just a few broken beans. Not much of the borer holes.

To the roaster right away!!! Then cupping tomorrow. These are half-kilo sampler packs that I paid for. Whichever I like, I’ll hoard a year’s worth of supply. :-)
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Coffee and ice cream

braziliansnow

During my birthday party last night with a mix of Mediterranean and Filipino food, the surprise hit was the dessert, ice cream and coffee combined. We actually first experimented with this on our family New Year’s Day dinner. My wife Miyam unearthed a recipe book of desserts published in the 1960s, and looked for anything with coffee. There she found “Brazilian Snow,” basically vanilla ice cream sprinkled with freshly roasted, finely ground coffee, mixing them, then topped with whipped cream, then garnished once more with ground coffee and, finally, maraschino cherry for a yummy presentation.

It was one nice dessert for a special dinner. But then I’m no fan of the cherry, and I think I didn’t really get the correct whipped cream for the topping from Gaisano.

Last night, my brother Jong brought some ice cream — strawberry and ube (for the longest time my favorite ice cream, along with macapuno). One of the kids got the strawberry from the freezer first, and everybody followed suit.
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Today is my birthday

So yesterday I roasted some of the Red Sea blend (a mix of Yemen & Ethiopian beans) and the last of my Brazil Moreninha Formosa for the usual clan party tonight. My bros and sisses and nephews and nieces are now coffee drinkers, spoiled by my freshly roasted beans.

Birthday coffees

Birthday coffees

So my stash is fast depleting. My birthday gift to myself — I ordered 5 lbs of Yemen beans from the Hufashi mountain range south of Sana’a, the capital, and 10 lbs of natural Yirgacheffe coffee from Ethiopia. From the usual suspects at GCBC.

Green beans sorting experiment

Yours truly torturing himself sorting out defect beans

Yours truly torturing himself sorting out defect beans

So I did try the beans from Mt. Matutum. I’d say it has potential, but I can actually taste the defects in the cup.  Maybe,  just maybe, if the defects are removed, this bean will taste better.

There’s only one way to find out — remove the defects myself, and roast the clean beans. So that’s how I tortured myself this morning. To be able to isolate 16 volume ounces of defect-free beans, took me maybe 30 minutes. Uh-oh! Not a job for me.
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