Coffee in UP

Kape Komunidad got its first coffee gig at the UP Diliman Biology building, on the week of Bio Majors’ Day.  Mia and I came in the building at about 8:45 A.M. on a Friday morning, with myself having very little sleep from preparations the night before. We unloaded our long S&R table, a picnic basket and several dry-boxes (AKA huge Lock ’n Lock’s). One of the lids of those boxes had on it “Drive thru Kape”, from the time that I was still using taped bond paper as my signage. A hippy student wearing glasses came over and read it out loud and giggled. She said she’d come back when were ready to brew. With all these people passing by and giving us curious looks, I felt pressured. And excited.

Table cloth. Condiments. Spoons, mixers. Paper cups, sleeves, lids. Syrup. Mia’s muffins (which were already selling like breakfast sliders, before I could even plug-in my espresso machine). Espresso machine.

Within 5 minutes of opening, someone had already come over and read our six-item menu. “Isa pong Kape Con Leche.” And with that, we had begun.

Two, thick shots, and a teaspoon of sugar. (Then milk afterwards)

Two, thick shots, and a teaspoon of sugar. (Then milk afterwards)

Throughout the morning, queues got as long as 5 people long, with a varied combination of short and tall orders — my machine had never been so busy in its working life. Mia was occupied with taking cash and bagging muffins, which were already gone by around 10:30 A.M. One of the professors who allowed us to set up dropped by, looking for the muffins. “Wala na pong muffins, sir! Coffee?” Unfortunately, he was diabetic (but it’s normal for diabetics to be looking for choco-banana muffins?)



As with any academic institution, a good number of people drank coffee black, notably, a 2nd year girl, a bearded bird watcher, and a plant physiologist. Now, I enjoy the theatrics of making cappucini, but people who ask for black coffee give a more intriguing look, the kind that makes baristi nervous. Called a “pour-over”, coffee is ground coarse in a separate grinder; a filter is neatly filled with the coffee, and hot water is slowly poured over it. For that particular day, I was using some Culinary Exchange beans: Premium Arabica and Espresso Blend for the pourovers and espressi, respectively. Culinary Exchange is one of the brands recognized by the Philippine Coffee Board as red-cherry-only harvesting/buying companies, which makes their coffee superb. Particularly, their arabica blend had a consistent grape-like dry fragrance and a tobacco taste, based on what I tasted in their October and November batches.

Day 3, we came in at the usual 8 A.M. and more prepared. Mia had about 100 muffins in several containers, while I had in the cooler 10 liters of fresh, full cream milk sitting on ice; didn’t wanna run out again like the first day. I also had something else in my cooler: a pot of homemade chocolate. We were prepared to serve some mochas that day: “Mocha Madness”. So, we served tall mochas, one after the other. At the same time, a reef researcher (and good friend) bought a box of 6 of Mia’s Choco-Banana muffins. Then there was the other RA who ordered her second mocha for the day.

I emptied my drip-tray into a drain, and Mia stacked up her containers of muffins — she sold out. If on the first day we ran out of milk, on the third day we let the coffee run out. 150 cups! No more, no less. What a sale! That night, I plopped onto bed, half-trying to sleep because my body ached from three days of carrying loads, and tamping 150 shots for espresso. But as with any barista, it’s always a joy to be serving coffee, and we were happy.

A day well-caffeinated.

A day well-caffeinated.


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