Monday, December 30, 2013

A List of Our Favorite Blog Entries from 2013

* You will only realize that you had a long year when it is finally over (sigh of relief). The year 2013 was our first full year operating as a restaurant at the place formerly known as Arla Diner. Running a restaurant is way waaay different from running a small cafe and so it was a whole new experience for all of us. Before the clock strikes 12, we're listing down our favorite blog entries for 2013. Thank You Lord for this amazing year!

Jan. 2 - Our First Year in a New Barangay

Feb. 6 - Elmer Umali's Coffee Journey to the Philippine National Barista Championship 2013 

March 11 - Company Fitness Program with Red Gloves Boxing Gym at Monde-Nissin

April 30 - CAnton's Fifth Anniversary

May 23 - PNBC 2013 Champ, Kevin Fortu's Visit

June 10 - New Flag Signage

July 8 - Coffee Unplugged at Weddings @ Work Grand EB at Le Pavilion

Aug. 3 - Dada Igdanes' Journey to the Philippine Barista Challenge 2013 and Gabes Torres' "Wonder" Album Launch

Sept. 23 - Lanz Mirondo's Coffee Workshop

Nov. 28 - Coffee Unplugged at Kainang Masaya Food and Wellness Fair, UPLB

Dec. 23 - Visit to Mt. Makiling Coffee Community

Friday, December 27, 2013

Organically Grown Lettuce from the UPOU Organic Demo Farm

The UP Open University is just a few minutes away from the cafe. We got three kilos of romaine lettuce, green lettuce, and lolo rosa lettuce this morning to use for our salads. We also set aside a few to sell to our customers at Php 300 per kilo.

Mary Jane and Rey of the UPOU Demo Farm planted the lettuce in November. Thanks to Dr. Blesilda Calub for informing us about this morning's harvest.
Learn more about organic agriculture and attend the UPOU Organic Agriculture orientation on January 25 at UPOU, Los Banos. Check out the link below for more details:

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Coffee Growing Community in Our "Backyard"

Coffee farmer, Mang Romy with his grandson (Photo by Kimmy Baraoidan)
Stopping by coffee farmer Pet's house (Photo by Kimmy Baraoidan)
That's me checking out the ripe robusta coffee cherries (Photo by Chris Quintana)

Sonny Martires of Yakap Kalikasan told me several months ago about a small community of arabica and robusta coffee growers in Mt. Makiling. He asked me if I was interested to check it out. 

Coincidentally, my friend, Kimmy Baraoidan, was looking for a thesis topic for her master's in sociology. Together with our friend, Chris Quintana, we went to the coffee community to check out the plantations and the coffee farmers.

We're planning to get small batches of coffee from these small-scale coffee farmers. Also, it would be great if we can teach the community to use organic methods of coffee growing.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Break: December 24 - 26
Regular Operations will resume on December 27, 11 AM to 10 PM

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A New Food Movement in Los Banos

"The Health Walk" is a unique healthy lifestyle adventure for both locals and tourists as 
they visit and dine in different restaurants, cafes, shops, and fitness and wellness centers  around the community that advocate healthy living in Los Banos. 

For more information, please LIKE "The Health Walk" on Facebook.

Partner establishments and supporters (as of today):
Ashoka Indian Healthy Cuisine
Satya Graha Cafe and Restaurant
Cafe Antonio Small Town Coffee Brewers Inc.
Kaphe: The Alternative Coffee Shop
Red Gloves Boxing Gym
Batacan's Ortho Dental Clinic
Makiling Hillside Delicacies
The Garden Kitchen

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Coffee Unplugged @ UPLB on December 3

Coffee Unplugged by Cafe Antonio will be at KAINANG MASAYA para sa KALUSUGAN: Food and Wellness Fair, Symposium- Demo- Exhibit and Sale on December 3 at the Crop Science Cluster, CA, UPLB. See you there!

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Coffees Everyday

The Small Town Brewer's two baristas, Elmer and Jabez, will take care of your coffee brewing needs. As for the food, well, we have our chef and kitchen crew for that!

* We want you to experience all the coffees we have here at the cafe. That's why we decided to highlight a different coffee (and coffee roaster!) everyday--one espresso blend and one single origin specialty coffee. The coffee we pick for the day is totally random, it really depends on what the barista wants to use. 

* Here's a quick list of coffees we have:

Philippine Espresso Blends roasted by 18 Days Coffee Roaster
- Owltonio Blend (Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa)
- Sleepy Time Blend (Arabica)
- Hardcore Blend (Robusta, Liberica)
- Gabriela Blend (Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, Liberica)

Specialty Coffee Espresso Blends roasted by Luca and Tosh Coffee Lab
- Larry Blend (Colombia, Kenya, Sumatra)
- Glider Blend (Guatemala, Sumatra)
- Bear Blend (Ethiopia, Sumatra)
- El Toro Blend (El Salvador, Sumatra)

Single Origin Specialty Coffee
- Colombia Huila Guadalupe Suaza
- Costa Rica Monte Paso Microlot
- El Salvador Apeneca
- Ethiopia Sidamo (Washed)
- Guatemala Finca La Providencia Atitlan
- Kenya Kichwa Tembo
- Nicaragua Jinotega Angelina Estate
- Rwanda Peaberry 

* And aside from our awesome coffees, we also serve great food! Try our new bestsellers, The Cafe Antonio Classic Burger and our Baby Back Ribs! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Coffee Unplugged Coffee Catering Packages

The Coffee Unplugged manual brewing crew in action during a wedding gig. (Photo by Anna Cadiz)
Coffee Unplugged grinds and brews each cup by the order to ensure quality, freshness, plus, it's just fun to watch!

PACKAGE A: Single Origin Specialty Coffee 
Roaster: Luca & Tosh Coffee Lab
Coffees Available: 
1) Ethiopia Sidamo
2) Nicaragua Jinotega Angelina Estate
3) El Salvador Apeneca
Tasting Notes: Mild, clean, unique, elegant flavors

150 cups - Php 11,000.00
100 cups - Php 7,350.00
75 cups - Php 5,500.00
50 cups - Php 3,650.00

PACKAGE B: Philippine Blends
Roaster: 18 Days Coffee Roaster
Coffees Available: 
1) Sleepy Time Blend (Philippine Arabica) - Light
2) Owltonio Blend (Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa) - Medium - BEST-SELLER!
3) Gabriela Blend (Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, Liberica) - Medium
4) Hardcore Blend (Liberica, Robusta) - Strong
Tasting Notes: Stronger and more familiar coffee taste compared to single origin coffees

150 cups - Php 9,500.00
100 cups - Php 6,350.00
75 cups - Php 4,750.00
50 cups - Php 3,200.00

1 cup = 8 fluid ounces

Out-of-Town Fee (outside Laguna) - Php 1000.00

1) Demo and coffee-tasting at the cafe (for event organizers/wedding coordinators)
2) One (1) bag of coffee beans (250 grams)

1) Red Velvet Cupcakes - Php 40/pc (medium); Php 12.50/pc (small)
2) Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies - Php 25/pc
3) Stroopwafel (caramel waffle) - Php 25/pc

Mobile Number: 0906-455-0522
Facebook: Coffee Unplugged by Cafe Antonio

Monday, September 30, 2013

Open on Mondays, Closed on Wednesdays


Starting on October 6 (Sunday), our new operating hours will be:

Monday to Tuesday - 11 AM to 10 PM

Wednesday - CLOSED

Thursday - Saturday - 11 AM to 10 PM

Sunday - 1 PM to 10 PM


Monday, September 23, 2013

Small Town Coffee Revival

Yesterday, we conducted our first free coffee workshop of the year with special guest barista, Lanz Mirondo from Singapore. 

 Kimmy Baraoidan, one of our coffee junkie participants, blogged about her experience during the workshop:

Lanz Mirondo’s Barista Workshop

Today I went to a free coffee workshop facilitated by coffee connoisseur and professional barista Lanz Mirondo at Cafe Antonio. Despite the heavy rains brought about by typhoon Odette, attendance was quite good. At the start of the workshop, the participants were each asked to share their expectations. Most of us expected to taste different kinds of coffee and to widen our coffee palate. But we got much, much more than that.
Lanz Mirondo explaining the mechanics of the cupping (taste test).
Lanz Mirondo explaining the mechanics of the cupping (taste test).
The first activity was cupping or taste test. For this activity, Lanz brought six kinds of coffee for us to taste: 1) Brazilian San Antonio, 2) Tobing Estate (Indonesia), 3) El Salvador, Nevada, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, 4) Dark Horse, 5) Crompton Road, and 6) Don Pepe, Panama. There are five things to keep in mind when evaluating coffee: aroma, body, flavor, acidity, and finish. Aroma is the smell of coffee beans or grounds. Fragrance is the smell of coffee mixed with water. Body is the coffee’s viscosity (is it light or dense?). Flavor is what the coffee tastes like. Acidity is the degree of sourness. Finish (short or long) is the lack or presence of an aftertaste.
Some of the coffee blends we tasted at the workshop.
Some of the coffee blends we tasted at the workshop.
First we smelled the ground coffee, then smelled the coffee after being mixed with hot water, then tasted the coffee. Tasting coffee is very much similar to tasting wine. One has to slurp it, not just sip it. The louder, the better. Slurping ensures maximum distribution to the tongue’s taste buds because it sprays the coffee to the back of the tongue. After swirling the hot liquid in your mouth, you can either swallow it or spit it. In my case, I spat the coffee out because I get palpitations if I drink too much coffee in a day. It is important to drink water in between tastes in order to cleanse the palate. To our untrained noses and tongues, at first, the coffee blends all seemed to smell and taste the same. But as we went around the table several times, we were able to distinguish the nuances of each blend.
Workshop participants smelling the coffee grounds and taking down notes.
Workshop participants smelling the coffee grounds and taking down notes.
We were also required to take notes while smelling and tasting. We had to describe what we smelled and tasted as accurately as we could. One good point raised by Lanz and by Jabez (Cafe Antonio’s senior barista) is that each of us would have different descriptions of the smell and taste. It would depend on our life experiences and on our exposure to different kinds of food and drink. True enough, when we were asked to share our notes, each person used different words to describe the smell and taste. I’m a photographer and I think visually most of the time. In my notes, I had put “yellow” and “bright” to describe the tastes of two different coffee blends. It was also apparent what type of coffee each of us liked based on our favorites. Mine are Dark Horse and Crompton Road (the much stronger ones).
Next, Lanz and Jabez demonstrated three types of coffee preparations: French press, drip, and AeroPress. They only used one type of coffee blend and made us taste the coffee that went through the different types of preparations. Each preparation method produced a different taste. The French press produced a stronger and bolder taste and a denser liquid. The drip produced a lighter liquid and a milder taste. It brought out the sweetness of the blend. The AeroPress is a recent innovation which combines the French press and drip methods. The taste is a middle ground brought by the fusion of the two methods. For me, I prefer the French press because I really like my coffee strong.
Left: French press Right: drip method
Left: French press; right: drip method
Left: coffee made using the French press; right: coffee made using the drop method.
Left: coffee made using the French press; right: coffee made using the drip method.
The AeroPress method.
The AeroPress method.
Lanz then opened the floor for questions and comments from the participants. We were all impressed by his refined palate and knowledge about not only coffee making but about the coffee industry as well. He shared his experience working as a barista in Singapore and the rather funny encounters he had with non-Filipino customers. He then proceeded to make some coffee at Cafe Antonio’s espresso machine, and we all watched him work his magic. He continued to entertain questions and to tell stories while making coffee like a boss. This guy is brimming with wisdom and experience – a true coffee guru.
Lanz working the espresso machine.
Lanz grinding coffee.
There is so much more that I took away from the workshop. I engaged Lanz in a more in-depth conversation, which I will make into another story soon. All I can say for now is that good, old hard work, an open mind, a can-do attitude, and an unquenchable thirst for learning are keys to Lanz’s success.
(More photos of the workshop here.)


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Staff Team Building Activity at San Pablo

* To highlight the cafe's first year in its current location (formerly Arla Diner) and commemorate the official start of our new company (from Cafe Antonio Coffee Corp. to Cafe Antonio Small Town Coffee Brewers Inc.), we went to San Pablo City for a half-day team building session with my father, Ptr. Philip Flores (whom we all simply call, Pop) at the Church of Christ Disciples function hall. The morning began with a light breakfast and started with interactive exercises that developed our teamwork, cooperation, and trust and loyalty with one another. The staff was divided into two groups during the activities. We ended the session by listing down 5 things we learned from the workshop. Pop closed the team building activity with a short study of the Word. 

* After the team building, the staff went to Hap Chan in Ultimart for lunch and celebrated our barista, Elmer's 26th birthday. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

One Year in our Fourth Location

Today we are celebrating our 1st year of operations since acquiring Arla Diner in September 3, 2012. Thank you for the continued support from fans and friends of both establishments. God is faithful!

The photo was taken on September 19, 2012.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coffee Workshop on September

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Free Coffee Appreciation Workshop with our barista mentor and friend, Lanz Mirondo, on September 23, Monday, 9 AM to 1 PM. For more info, contact 0906-4550522 or LIKE us on Facebook: Cafe Antonio.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Philippine Barista Challenge 2013 Elims & Gabes Torres' Album Launch

* July 25 - The Philippine Barista Challenge 2013 NCR eliminations was held at the Philippine Barista and Coffee Academy. Eva "Dada" Igdanes represented the cafe in this competition, carrying our new name for the first time! Jaycee Martinez, owner and roaster of Luca and Tosh Coffee Lab (the source of our freshly roasted specialty coffees!), also joined the competition together with Larry Lloyd Andrada of Kuppa Roastery (yup, he's the "Larry" in our delicious Larry Blend roasted by Jaycee!). We're also glad to meet old and new barista friends during the competition. It's too bad we weren't able to watch the finals during the WOFEX. Congratulations to Larry and Miko Simangan!

Dada pulling an espresso shot

The competitors

Jaycee Martinez of Luca and Tosh Coffee Lab

Our new barista friends!

* July 27 - Gabes Torres' second album launch was a complete success! Amazing amazing performances from the front acts (Laika, Paula, Coy, and Althea) and Gabes and her amazing band. It's been awhile since I've watched a gig of any kind. "Wonder" brought back memories of Cafe Antonio Sessions back in LB Square. "Wonder" by Gabes Torres is available at the cafe. Proceeds will go to an orphanage called Bahay Tuluyan in Victoria, Laguna. 

Gabes Torres and her Osam Band


The jam-packed crowd

Coy Nazario all the way from Bulacan!

Paula Cosico

Laika Concepcion

Album for sale at the cafe!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Activities this July

July 25 - Our newest barista, Eva "Dada" Igdanes, will represent Los Banos, Laguna in this year's Philippine Barista Challenge carrying our new company name (Cafe Antonio Small Town Coffee Brewer's Inc.) for the first time in professional competition!

July 27 - Our talented singer/songwriter friend, Gabes Torres, is back again from the US after a year to launch her sophomore album, "Wonder."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weddings @ Work Grand EB

Thank you W@W for inviting us once again to your event. Hope everybody had a good cup of coffee. Although we ran out of sugar and creamers very quickly, we apologize for that!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Coffee Unplugged Brewing @ Le Pavillon Metro Park on July 7

Our band of manual coffee brewers will be on the road again this Sunday, July 7! Catch them perform their hits, "Owltonio Blend" and "Gabriela Blend" live at the Weddings @ Work Grand EB and Awards Nightt at Le Pavillon Metro Park, 11 am onwards. It's gonna be a long long day of manual brewing fun!

Jabez - Lead Brew Rail
Elmer - Second Brew Rail
Edu - Burr Grinder
Marisse - Hot Water Kettle

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Coffees Coming Next Month!

* Choosing a blend of coffee for a particular espresso-based beverage is still generally an alien concept around here but some customers are quickly catching up! And now that they're familiar with our Owltonio, Sleepy Time, and Hardcore blends (plus three of our more recent blends, The Gabriela Blend from 18 Days Coffee Roaster, the Yawza Blend a.k.a. The Larry Blend, and our custom "Dada Blend"), we decided that we wanted to furrrrther expand our selection of coffees. Aside from the 8 single origin coffees offered here from Luca and Tosh Coffee Lab, we're thinking about adding at least 3 more blends just to make life a bit more challenging for our baristas to explain it and our customers to get it. Haha! We consider it as part of everybody's coffee education and coffee journey. So watch out for new coffees next month!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Specials

Baby Back Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies (Php 599). Good for three persons!

Also try our newest drink, Dalandan Mint (Php 70 for a glass; Php 180 for a decanter)

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Signage Dilemma

Beach flags inspired our new signages along the National Highway
* Since 2008, we have been haunted by the infamous "Signage Dilemma." Back in Grove, customers were suggesting that we put a Panaflex signage protruding high over the sidewalk so that people would see us as they drove by. Obviously, we were not able to do that. When we moved to LB Square in 2010, the "visibility" issue even got worse! We were located at the back of the compound and we relied on word-of-mouth to promote our new location. The shop directory at the entrance of the square never happened so we became very frustrated because we weren't able to attract new customers and tourists unless they went to LB Square to look for a bar and happened to see us as they searched for a clean bathroom. When we finally moved to Maahas last year, we thought that visibility would no longer be a problem because the compound was along the road. Yes, it was along the road, but the store wasn't visible unless you start looking outside your window a hundred meters before the actual site. If you're not paying attention, you'll find yourself texting and asking me if the cafe was before or after South Supermarket, UP Open University, or Mer-Nel's Place. Especially at night, we were so invisible from the eyes of motorists, you would doubt if we ever existed at all.

* As frustration escalates and after several meetings and brainstorming sessions, we finally mounted a huge Panaflex signage up high on the takeout building wing. We thought that this would be the solution to our  problem. It was not.  After a few months, the lights inside the Panaflex got busted plus customer feedback told us that the signage was too high for them to see along the road.

* Everyday, I am haunted by this "Signage Dilemma." I cannot concentrate at work, I go to the parking lot  every night and try to visualize a solution. Well there are obvious solutions of course, but some obvious solutions are too expensive for us. We needed a cheap and effective alternative.

* On a very rare vacation trip to Boracay with my friends that almost didn't happen, I was hoping to draw some layout inspiration from the restaurants that we visited. I enjoyed looking at dining area layouts, bar layouts, al fresco layouts, especially if the space was small. I wasn't looking for signage inspirations yet but one evening, I noticed that the shops brought out flags with company logos on them, hanging on bamboo poles UPLB FebFair-style. And I thought, "Wow, that looks affordable and doable!"

* After several consultations with friends and the staff about the design, structure, and materials, we finally hoisted the flags yesterday. After 5 years in the business, we were able to put up our first decent signage. Five years is a long time, so don't follow our example. Immediately invest in a functioning and visible signage even before you buy chairs for the shop. If there's a lesson in this story, it's this: never EVER give up on a problem until it is solved!