How did you get started in the coffee business?
It was during my 2nd year in college, I was undertaking entrepreneurship as my major and I needed to produce a business that I could use as my thesis. I had a good background in baking and I wanted to pair it with coffee as well, I needed to learn all about coffee and at that time I thought the best coffee came from Starbucks so I applied for a job there, thankfully I wasn't accepted. I ended up working in a local coffee chain, very lax standard which allowed my to sort of figure out that coffee wasn't so one dimensional.
The first thing I learned was that you could actually make bad coffee, at the start I thought all coffee just tasted the same, the only difference being which one was stronger or fresher.
What recommendations do you have about coffee equipment?
Definitely work with your budget and market, doesn't make much sense to invest in best machines when you're only expecting 20 people a day, a typical direct 9 bar espresso machine can take care of that for you, even a single group one. The grinder is a more important investment too, no matter how great your machine is, it can't change the composition of your grind size, plus it might help you save on costs.
What do you think about competitors? Do you treat them as one?
Cebu is still starting out in the specialty coffee scene so there's not much of a competition specialty coffee wise, I'd rather see commercial coffee as the hump to overcome and get people more used to specialty coffee!
How do you decide who will be a good baristas?
Good IQ and good EQ and definitely good work ethics. Passion plays an important role as well.
When and where did you have your first coffee-piphany?
I visited a barista in Singapore that used to work in the same local coffee shop chain that i worked for in Cebu, he made a name for himself to all the baristas in Cebu and I thought of just visiting his cafe where he was working in Singapore, there he gave me the best coffee I've ever tried at that time, and that got me hooked!
Who influenced/inspired you on your coffee journey?
Lucky Salvador and Markniel Madrelejos
Best ever coffee?
I think this is a trick question haha. But I did especially enjoy one brew recently, it was a duromina roasted by Gardelli but I think what made the flavours come out so spectacularly was the brewing process, a mixture of splitting and bypass on an Aeropress.
Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee?
It depends, sometimes it's enough to drink by myself, losing my thoughts on the taste of the cup, the aroma, the finish. But it's fun to drink with a friend talking about coffee too; one of the best ways is to let the barista talk about the coffee you're drinking, no one knows more about the coffee you drink more than the guy who made it!
What is your favourite bean?
Hmmm maybe a floral El Salvador..
What's your relationship with Coffee?
It has it’s up and downs, sometimes you wanna give it your all and other times, it just doesn't seem worth it, especially since specialty is such a new idea here in Cebu and a lot of people either wanna bring you down or criticize you because you aren't doing it their way.
What has coffee taught you?
Passion and perseverance, a reverence to what nature can bring us and gratitude to the hard work of so many people.
What opportunities has coffee given you?
I think, if anything, it’s a place where I belong, something about making coffee, appreciating coffee and sourcing coffee, is just so enjoyable that I can't imagine life without it.