Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee Gets Inspired By Music

* This week the cafe will host two events that we are most passionate about: Barista Jam 2 (with Pinoy Barista) on Thursday and Cafe Antonio Sessions VII on Saturday. We did this barista jam-Cafe Antonio sessions combo just 3 weeks ago. I guess everyone just got really excited and inspired so we decided to make this a regular thing. This will help us make the cafe become a favorite venue of both baristas and musicians to showcase their skills and express their creativity for free!

* I saw an article online at Coffeegeek.com about what a barista jam is. It's an example of how the coffee industry takes its cues from music. Here's an excerpt from the article:

So what is a Jam? The premise is modeled after a musician’s jam session. That informal event is usually a group of musicians who get together on a regular basis to play tunes. Some bring stacks of “fake books”, books that have main melodies of jazz standard tunes alphabetically arranged for easy reference and ideas, other musicians would come with their ‘axe’, a musicians’ instrument as it is affectionately called. Still others would come just to ‘dig the scene’. Imaginative, free ideas of chord structure, phrasing, notation and tone would flow like wine or other inebriants that were often available and things always got a little wild as the evening wore on.

Jams were free form enough but some structure provided a framework generally someone would call a song, others would chime in and solo and everyone “jammed”. The song would last as long as the ideas did.  

A Barista jam is an assemblage with the same sense of inspiration and exploration; only the medium (or vehicle) is specialty coffee in general, and espresso in particular. Rather than musicians grouped together talking about riffs, scale changes, half notes and block cords, we have Baristi talking about shot times, tamping techniques, espresso blends and grinding burrs. Musical axes have been replaced with tampers, steam pitchers and beans. If this sounds like a science experiment to you, it is a little bit like one. Lab coats have given way to aprons. Loosely defined a jam is: anytime 2 or more Barista come together over an espresso machine to challenge themselves, or any time there is a gathering of several Baristi and machines all under one roof.



* After endless rounds of UNO Stack-O (trust me, it's grueling and exhausting), Dan Sta. Romana of Drmsr Photography bested 3 other teams to win the 1st UNO Stack-O Tournament last Monday sponsored by Espaleklek and Jethro Benaiah Osio at Cafe Antonio, Los Banos. Dan walked away with Php 2000 cash and is now in Tokyo, Japan taking a vacation. Congratulations! Other participating teams were Marisse Bonita of Mavericks, Gelo & Kaye of UPLB, and Jeg & Jabez of Cafe Antonio, Los Banos. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On A Three Zero Run!

victory pose with members of Pinoy Barista

* We had three major events last week. Just enough to sap our energy and yet inspire us to push the tempo a little bit more. Adrenaline junkies, we are (Yoda-speak). First was the semi-finals of the Grand Barista Cup. Ramhil and I were at the World Trade Center to support our barista friends and members of our organization, Pinoy Barista. Although a small group, we didn't fail to encourage and cheer our fellow baristas as they went through their 15 minutes of hell. Event emcee, Sam Y G, couldn't help but notice us running around from one side of the stage to the other, cheering our friends. He said, "Kayo din yun nasa kabila ah!" Haha! 

* Pinoy Barista member, Chester Nimer of Bo's Coffee, emerged the winner besting 5 other semi-finalists from The Coffee BeaneryUCC, Jet Black Java, and Al Fresco Cafe. He became the Luzon Champion, getting the chance to compete in the national finals and the Asian Barista Cup in Singapore. Of course, all of us were proud of him and we counted that as a victory for Pinoy Barista. As a tribute to Chester's winning signature drink, the Mango Passiflora, I tried to remake it back at the cafe and then served it to my staff so that they can taste the Luzon Champ's concoction. God bless on the finals, sir! 

* I was also lucky that day, I won a bottle of passion fruit syrup for the "bring me" game and a coffee cup and saucer in the coffee trivia game. That never happened to me before. Malas ako sa games e.

Cafe Antonio Sessions VI with Yield Avenue, Code Name: Adobo, 9 Inches Ni Neil, and Satori

* Cafe Antonio Sessions VI! For the first time in Sessions history, the bands performed at the al fresco area. And what a revelation, it's so much better to play out there! We got to know a new band called Code Name: Adobo. They're an Incubus-like, funk-rock-jazz fusion band. I hope they could come back again and be a regular part of Sessions. Ralph & Neil, now known as 9 Inches Ni Neil, also debuted showcasing their alternative rock brand of music. The band features Mon on vocals, Neil on acoustic guitar and vocals, Ralph on lead guitar, and Lisette on keyboards. Sophomore Sessions band, Satori also came back to the cafe to perform the final set. And of course, Yield Avenue was there to perform two sets of covers and originals, including favorites, "Hanggang Dulo" and "Sigaw." As usual, the guys (minus Noey, plus Banjo) blew us away with another captivating, guitar-driven performance. At the end of the night, everyone was happy as the bands  ate their free Pasta Alfredos and sipped their iced teas. We can't wait for the next gig! The successful gig is a victory for us all! 

at the UAAP Cheerdance Competition with CAnton friends and crew

* In non-cafe related news, despite not winning 14 games in basketball, UP has finally reclaimed it's Cheerdance bragging rights! The CAnton crew was there to watch and it was a surreal feeling being in a situation where we actually won something as a school. So this is how it feels to win, we told ourselves. UP Naming Mahal never sounded so good!

* We just had our weekly Bible study and staff meeting this afternoon. We reflected and realized good things happen by grace and not because we deserve it. But because Someone wants us to. We are very thankful for that. Here's to another week of living by faith.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

‘Give Me A Break’ Isn’t Exactly A Battle Cry But ‘Scrabble!’ Is

Juniper Face the Corner

Gabes Torres

Latte Art Jam with Pinoy Barista

* Every year I experience major physical exhaustion especially in the “ber” months where all the “stress-zoids” (stressors the size of Zoids) usually chew away at what is left of my 7-11-sponsored sustenance. The two barista competitions (Philippine Barista Cup and Grand Barista Cup) we participated in last month really gave us a lot to think about and definitely a lot to work on. The training and practice, together with the rigors of daily living, café life, and band rehearsals, gave me bloodshot eyes, irregular sleep patterns, unexpressed frustrations, and non-stop streams of creative thinking.

* It’s been awhile since I’ve done a reflective blog. It’s also been awhile since I’ve written a blog on time, on a Monday evening. Well, maybe because I’m, or we’re, in a stage where the wheels are really rolling fast.  Café Antonio is in a stage where we’re developing two of our main thrusts: 1) making good coffee and barista development through exposure and participation in the local coffee industry, and 2) creative expression through music in the form of the Café Antonio Sessions. We’ve talked and bonded with a lot of people this past month. We’ve met interesting and talented artists in Sessions and we’ve made good friends with fellow baristas from different cafes in the past two competitions. These new relationships led to a barista jam last week and three Café Antonio Sessions gigs this month. Aside from that, we’ve also pimped our food menu and we’ll also throw in an UNO Stack-O Tournament next week for good measure.

* My sociable exterior usually hides my quiet chewy interior (by this I mean locking myself up in my room and watching Gossip Girl). What freaks me out is my increased social exposure due to the café’s sudden involvement in a lot of things. Ironic because I’m a Sociology major and being with people is our forte. I’m not saying exposure is bad, don’t get me wrong, it’s very good especially for a business. But being in the forefront all the time is a recurrent and awkward position for me. I’m the personification of an oxymoron. I do what I don’t like and always find myself doing what I don’t want to do. It’s a riddle.

* The lesson here is that I shouldn’t run away from my responsibilities. God isn’t forcing me to do things. Instead, He encourages me to do more of what He has entrusted me to do. And I still firmly believe that this café is my earthly assignment. So if life’s challenges give me more than what my personality can handle, I know for sure that my attitude towards life can always step up, thanks to the Big Man upstairs.


September 11 - Café Antonio Sessions  VI featuring Yield Avenue, Satori, Code Name Adobo, and Neil & Ralph

September 13 – Start of UNO Stack-O Tournament

Flavor of the Month: Caramel Raspberry Confusion (with Gummi Bears!) – Php 130

Pasta of the Week: Spaghettini with Tomato and Mozzarella

Sixty Time Snack Sets (from 3 pm to 5:30 pm only) – Php 60
-        -   Tuna Pita Wrap (2 pieces with 8 oz regular iced tea)
-        -   Chicken Mayo wrap (2 pieces with 8 oz regular iced tea)
-        -    Pita Pizza (with 8 oz regular iced tea)