July 19, 2019
COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE: TOURIST ATTRACTIONS WE DON’T THINK ABOUT
I was privileged to visit a world-class island resort recently and enjoyed a cup of coffee after breakfast. It was so good I went up to the bar to thank the barista. Over at another outlet where my family had breakfast, they were complaining about their brewed coffee. It was from the same machine which had the same coffee beans. What happened?
We got to the bottom of it. It was over-extraction. It’s a coffee term for water being forced over ground coffee for longer than usual (until it fills the cup). It was 8 ounces instead of 1 1/2. Thus, it became acidic, sour, and bitter. It was very unpleasant.
The lady manager came up to us and offered to change the sour cups into my recommended espresso coaxed to be finer with hot water. “An americano,” I said “is better”. And it was. Then we went on to ask what “brewed” Barako coffee blend it was. She brought out a bag of the beans after I introduced myself as coming from a non-profit and I was not about to steal someone’s business with them. I just wanted to see what the “Philippine Barako” was.
She saw for herself an assortment of broken, burnt, beans and an odd mixture of Arabica, Robusta, and possibly Excelsa. It was enough to call it a blend. Excelsa is sometimes interchanged with Liberica, the big bean. She was in shock.
This is a world-class resort and coffee could be P200-300 a cup. “Don’t blame the supplier right away,” we warned her. “Maybe you asked for a certain price bracket, not a certain taste profile,” we apologetically said. It may not be the supplier’s fault entirely.
But this is why we must look at Taiwan and how they promote their local coffee. I came from Taiwan recently and admired how the locals promote their locally-grown coffee. It is priced like or higher than the famous Jamaican Blue mountain of Hawaiian Kona.
The Taiwan Alishan (it’s origin) is sold at record prices and we tried it iced on a hot humid day at the Little green cafe. They offered us two kinds: Honey processed and washed. After hand pouring my brew, the barista explained the flavor notes of the Alishan depending on the process. It did taste good, and he even offered me a taste of the other kind, making me appreciate Taiwanese coffee Origins immediately. This is in a small cafe.
Now I am in this beautiful resort and the Philippine coffee offered is this odd mix of I am guessing one of the cheapest blends available. It’s not fair for Philippine coffee to be tasted in this manner. We have, as many people exclaim, “beautiful coffee”—and it deserves to be tasted by every important visitor in these parts!
We offered to give the staff a cupping experience for free so they can discern flavor notes in the coffee they serve.
This experience happens all over the country. Hotels serve coffee as their most popular beverage but they do not give it much thought. “For as long as it does not cost them a lot, it’s just coffee. Don’t overthink it,” they probably say.
I am happy that I have come across one international hotel that is serious about its coffee. They bought not just a coffee brewing machine but a coffee roaster, then they looked for the raw beans and started to roast their own local coffee.
“We have been roasting coffee for all our outlets,” I heard a staff say. “And our total coffee costs have been reduced even if consumption has increased,” he beams with obvious pride.
I hopped over to their chocolate room and I saw a line or chocolate machines. Wow! They also make their own chocolate bars. Now this hotel knows a secret. If you make your own chocolate and roast your own coffee, you not only bring down your costs, you also increase the quality of these two popular items.
Now if only Cost Control people of hotels did the math (which they are hired to do) and if only the leaders thought of sustainability, then the paradigm shift will happen.
I am hopeful that hotels and resorts will soon give more attention to their coffee and chocolate. Our tourism industry would not only flourish. It may even be our solution to economic challenges and all other sustainability issues.
Simple? Let’s cross our fingers these tourist establishments will heed our advice.
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One Comment on “COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE: TOURIST ATTRACTIONS WE DON’T THINK ABOUT”
Clint Taynan says July 20, 2019 at 9:16 am
Great article! This article should also be republished or re-edited/re-headline so our hotel industry workers and managers will be able to read it. Its such a great way to advocate our Philippine coffee especially our Arabica beans coming from Benguet and the Mt. Provinces.