Friday, April 16, 2010

Blog Contest 1st Runner Up

by Raisa Pantaleon

I can still remember the first time I stepped into that café. I’d heard of it a few times, but it wasn’t until a friend took me there when we were looking to sober up that I’d actually seen the place. It wasn’t big. It wasn’t flashy. No, it’s no Starbucks. But from the outside, with the soft yellow paint, the dim, cozy lights and the simple sign that read Café Antonio, I could tell there was something about it that explained the busy crowd. True enoughit was even better inside.

In my mind, coffee shops are designed for laid back nights or busy mornings, and I usually don’t like it when they are otherwise. But the café was different. After the initial step in, I remember my friend acknowledging almost everyone in the place. I think this was that something I was looking for. When someone was inside the café, I noticed how they never failed to greet everyone else. Café Antonio had its own community inside, quite like an open one, wherein you would never feel like you don’t belong. Another thing I noticed was that the café had no WiFi. We satisfi with no WiFi, says a sticker by the entrance. That was a point for me. Why? Come on, how many times have you seen a group at a coffee shop without the people talking to each other because they’re too busy with their laptops? Instead of free wireless internet, the crew had a library of some of the most entertaining books I had ever read. They had Pictionary and board games to offer, too. No wonder it was like a community in there. It was a free for all, with the crew enjoying with their customers. This, I believe, was interaction at its finest.

I recall asking my friend to do the honors of ordering for me. She had been there before and I was sure she knew what was perfect for first-timers like me. My first drink at the café was their Hazelnut Latte. To be honest, I was really impressed. See, I always told my sister that the most common establishments I’d seen in Los Baños were apartments, bars and coffee shops. And I know I reached a phase wherein I could not get enough of caffeine. I tried almost every coffee shop and the most frustrating thing about it is that other people don’t recognize the importance of quality anymore. It’s like they go a little beyond the line that makes them a coffee shop and then that’s it. You know, masabing coffee shop sila. I remember going into one near my place – which, by the way, has about three branches in this town already – because it looked like a successful establishment. Well, you know how they say first impressions don’t last. Imagine my frustration when I got sugar with coffee. I’m not kidding. That’s how it tasted. I could even see the granules at the bottom. Fail. That’s why I was impressed with CAnton’s coffee. You could practically taste their passion and see the effort they put into their drinks. I mean, have you seen their Flavor of the Months? Talk about creative.

It’s been over a year since that first visit to Café Antonio. I’ve tried several more drinks since then. Personally, I’ve been quite attached to a certain one that when I step into the café, I know I have to have it. But I can guarantee you that everything I’ve tasted so far is excellent. You can even shut your eyes and point to anything in the menu and still end up with something good. True story. Coffee has grown into me since I learned that there was finally a café in this town that deserved to be called such. And the best part about it is that everything there is good value for your money.

Great quality + generous servings + affordable prices = Café Antonio Los Baños

So here’s a shout out to the stressed and/or haggard students of UPLB who spend weeks at a time away from their family: If you’re looking for a place to unwind, if you’re looking for great coffee and great company, if you’re looking for home in the heart of Los Baños, then visit the CAnton community, where they give love in every cup. 

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