More coffee talk

Sep 17, 2016

Many of you may have noticed that, alongside the many new restaurants and bars that have opened in the last few years not only here but in many progressive cities across the archipelago, there are as many new coffee shops that have also cropped up. There are Starbucks outlets in all malls and shopping districts, but alongside the foreign brands, our home grown brands like Bo's Coffee of Cebu and Figaro cannot be far behind.

Coffee has come of age in the Philippines, a mark of sophistication for many to be sure, but more importantly a shot in the arm for our neglected coffee farmers from Benguet to the far corners of Mindanao. Our local cafes now boast of being proud members of the Third Wave of coffee, and though this age has been around for some ten years in the US and in Europe, it is still a big step forward for our local coffee industry.  And we have to thank our very active Philippine Coffee Board for this.

We have come across two relatively new cafes in the metro that are among this "third wavers".

Cow & Chicken

Before this restaurant/café opened, one of its owners, Junco Flores, was a barista extremely passionate about coffee. From this passion stemmed his personal advocacy to support the Filipino coffee farmer. All the coffee they serve at Cow & Chicken are locally sourced, primarily from the Benguet farmers. Very soon, they plan to tap the Batangas coffee farms and those from Mt. Apo in Davao which he swears are among the best in the country.

They offer the basics found in most cafes - latte, Espresso, Cappucino, Americano. However, they have come up with something uniquely their own - the Panucha Macchiato. The panucha of old can be rarely seen in public markets now, but I remember biting into those brown caramel-flavored half moons with immense pleasure when I was a kid. Back then, they were plentiful in the dry section of the wet market, and my mother used them to flavour our champorado (which we enjoyed with tuyo). This restaurant is restoring the old glory of the panucha, and they claim that theirs is the only café to offer the Panucha Macchiato. The process is meticulous and slow, and Junco has to extract the flavour of the panocha before it is blended with the coffee. The milk is steamed at just the right temperature and the panocha carefully measured for that constant quality.

Another nostalgic blend is the Choc Nut Coffee. Choc Nut is another childhood favourite that has seen a resurgence in the local stores, and to be sure it is 100% Filipino. The flavour of sweet and salty brings back memories of days when a few coins in the pocket could bring joy.

Other interesting flavors include Popcorn Latte where the flavour of popcorn is also extracted before blending and the While Rose Latte where white chocolate and rose extract are added to the freshly brewed coffee. Cinnamon or nutmeg for that slightly nutty flavour may be sprinkled on top if desired.


This is another café established in 2013, first in Salcedo St. and now relocated to Polaris St., Poblacion, Makati City. One of the co-owners, Rose Juan is a graduate of Business Major in Technology Communication from Ateneo de Manila University. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs, so opening Commune was a natural progression for her. Besides, she worked for fifteen years with coffee, living in Shanghai for four years while working for a coffee company. She always dreamed of opening her own café one day, but as fate would have it, she decided to take a break from coffee and spent three years indulging in another passion, digital marketing.

With the opening of Commune, she is indulging in both passions: coffee and her being a social media strategist. She organized Tweet Ups because it was always difficult to bring people face to face, and for want of a special place for these friends' meet ups, the opportunity to open Commune came at the perfect time.

Commune was so named because it was meant to be a home of communities. Rose remembers that when they opened the café, they were only one of five Third Wave coffee shops in the country. They are proud to serve 100% Filipino coffee sourced directly from the farmers, and she is not a niece of Philippine Coffee Board Chair Chit Juan for nothing. She shares the passionate advocacy and translates this to her offerings in the café where not only coffee but everything else in the menu is 98 - 99% Filipino, a testament to her advocacy. Aside from her coffee, she serves pastries delivered by home bakers, many of whom are start-ups who do not have their own retail space yet. They have Calamansi Muffins from Manila Bake, apple pie baked fresh daily by a niece using her grandmother's old recipe, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Cookie Shot served with Carmen's Best ice cream.

They serve hot coffee, but they are making a name for their iced lattes. Their Iced Toddy is an 18-hr cold brew where the coffee grinds are soaked in ice for eighteen hours. It is not subjected to any heat, but the result is a less-acidic coffee with more potent caffeine but with a lighter taste. Very refreshing.

Other best seller include their longganisa pasta, a creation of their Chef Mickey, their beef tapa with "sinangag" and fresh eggs, their Croc Madam, which is ham and cheese sandwich with bechamel sauce and their big serving of grilled cheese sandwich.

What is also interesting about this place is it is an events place for art exhibits, plays of upcoming theatre actors, benefit concerts/performances or even public workshops.

But coffee seems to be the one factor that binds the diverse groups who have made Commune their home these last few years. Coffee brings people together, and it fuels endless conversations and ideas.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For questions and comments (email)


About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)