“No matter what historians claimed, BC really stood for "Before Coffee.”
~ Cherise Sinclair
Throughout history, people have waxed poetic about coffee---its intoxicating smell, the way it lingers in the mouth after every sip, and its sheer ability to make everything okay. They don’t call it the elixir of the gods for nothing. Truly, coffee has cemented its status as a well-loved drink, and in the Philippines, there are more coffee drinkers than tea drinkers. Just survey the lot of coffee shops that have opened nationwide in the last ten years and you will come to this conclusion--Filipinos like coffee very much.
But do we love it as much as we know about it? How’s your coffee knowledge, fellow caffeine aficionado? Truth be told, after spending some time chatting with Hubert Young, president of UCC Philippines and coffee connoisseur, I realized that the extent of my coffee know-how is very limited.
So, consider me pleasantly surprised when I found out that in Mentoré Coffee + Bar by UCC in Makati, they actually have five ways to prepare coffee:
1) Syphon Method
This method looks very Harry Potter-ish. Or, something out of Walter White’s class. Sixteen grams of freshly-ground coffee is used to make one cup of Mentore House Blend.
Fundamentally, syphon coffee is a vacuum method of brewing coffee before the introduction of filter/drip coffee. This method isn’t widely used anymore, but it is being revived amongst serious coffee drinkers. What will your coffee be like using this process? Smooth, flavorful and medium-bodied. Best with high acidity coffee, syphon brewing yields the lightest cup of coffee amongst the five methods.
2) Pour Over
Basically, this is the drip method, wherein a cone-shaped paper filter is used to extract the coffee.
The key to producing a nice cup of coffee with the Pour Over is to use freshly-ground beans. The fresh grounds are then poured onto the filter. A scale is used to ensure correct water-coffee ratio. Then, water that’s just off the boil is gently poured to the coffee grounds in circular motion, so that everything is soaked. Voila! A mildly rich cup of coffee to jump start your day.
3) Water Drip
The apparatus for the water drip method would also feel right at home in a chemistry lab. Rightly so, because a cup of coffee takes eight hours to make with this process. In a nutshell, cold water drips over roasted, ground coffee beans contained in a filter. The water then seeps through the ground coffee, absorbing its oils and essences, solely under gravity, then passes through the bottom of the filter. The used coffee grounds are retained in the filter with the liquid falling (dripping) into a collecting container.
The result is rich, silky coffee that is devoid of acidity and compact in flavor. One cup will get you good.
4) French Press
Familiar to many coffee drinkers, the French press requires the coarsest grind of coffee amongst the five methods. For one cup, hot boiling water is used on 15 grams of house blend coffee. A fine mesh filter plunger unit is attached to the lid to separate ground coffee from the water. The result is heavy-bodied and rich coffee perfect that will keep you up for a long time.
Fun fact: A serving of espresso has 1/3 third less caffeine than a regular serving of drip coffee.
The espresso was first invented in the early 1900s, as a way to reduce the amount of workers’ break time.
Any kind of coffee roast can be used to make it, but it’s the grind size and preparation that makes it an espresso. It’s important to note that brewed coffee and espresso begin to lose their flavor within minutes after its made, so drink it up at once! It’s also crucial to use the right espresso cup, with its maximum capacity at 2 ounces (60ml), but should only be filled 2/3 of the way. A cup that is too large will cause the espresso to cool down too quickly. The serving temperature (temperature inside the cup) is 160°F, so it’s recommended to preheat the cup before adding the espresso.
By the end of my Mentoré visit, I’ve learned more information about coffee than I’ve had during the entire time I started drinking it. ‘Tis a magical brew, indeed, the elixir of the gods.
Taking it a notch higher is their extensive breakfast menu, which is offered alongside their their regular menu. Then, lest we forget, the place is also a bar--so yes, they have alcoholic drinks blended with coffee.
Happy hour is never early with their coffee cocktails. Surprisingly, there is just a right kind of balance with the coffee and alcohol, and you can taste both flavors with every sip. The Morning Rooster (P350) has Dutch coffee with Jose Cuervo tequila, coffee liqueur, and honey. It’s so strong, it’ll jolt you awake any time of the day.
Try the Clair Tiramisu (P230) for breakfast, or have it for dessert. Its waffle is the right kind of chewiness, with fresh fruits and tiramisu ice cream on top.
If, oddly, you find yourself in this cafe but aren’t a coffee drinker, they also have smoothies that are really filling like this Berry Chocolate Smoothie (P180).
Despite their venture to new territory, UCC still maintains the quality of their signature dishes and popular favorites.
The UCC Seafood Salad (P440) is just one of my favorites, as it doesn’t scrimp on ingredients. The shrimp tempura is crisp and succulent, a perfect contrast to the fresh, leafy greens. Good for two, but I see this being a solo meal I’ll keep coming back to when I want something satisfying and healthy.
The Japanese make the best curry, so it’s not surprising that the Pork Cutlet with Curry Rice (P400) is easily one of Mentore’s best sellers. It’s a dish I’ll never tire of because it’s so simple but it always hits home.
Visiting Mentoré is a no-brainer because you get a breakfast place, a cafe and a bar under one roof--in an idyllic spot in the middle of Makati, close enough to walk to malls, but far enough from the shopping crowd. Mentore is so dedicated to spreading the gospel of coffee, you’ll walk out of the cafe with newfound love and appreciation for the intoxicating brew.