Last week of May, I received an invitation from Schmutzer, a social media solutions firm, and I was invited to a food tasting and coffee pairing at Kuppa Fort Bonifacio. It has been a few months since Kuppa opened in this sweet spot of Bonifacio Global City and I was thrilled that they opened up the café to bloggers. I did my previous interview here with the Direk Jay Abello for PUREZA. Yes, I have been here in a meeting but it still thrilled me that I will see an actual coffee roasting here. I have met Nang Karen, owner, and Nong Kerwin, her brother and roastmeister, were glad to see me again.
Foodie friends who went to the original one fronting St. John’s Institute in Bacolod City asked me if the interiors were the same. Both Shopping Center and Fort Bonifacio are lovely but the one in Bonifacio Global City follows a more rustic industrial design, somehow a tribute to hardworking employees of this new business center. In the times I have gone back to Kuppa, I see working class people, executives and even foreigners streaming in and out of the café. Whats nice is that I can even see familiar faces who are loyal patrons of Kuppa, enjoying maybe a cup of Berry Nut Latte and gourmet food.
The Roastmeister, Nong Kerwin, called us since he would start roasting fresh coffee beans for the week, using a Probat Coffee Roaster that is the coffee roasting gem imported from Europe. Kuppa sources coffee beans from all over the world, always shipped in freshly dehusked. You can find here top quality beans screened by Nang Karen, the owner, who happens to be the only certified coffee Q-grader in the country so far. Ethiopia, Sumatra and even local Hinalaban Blend.
Everyone watched the Roastmeister closely, after all, it is rare to see coffee beans being roasted onsite and in a Probat one. I smelled something reminiscent to freshly baked bread and the Roastmeister told us that it is now starting to pop. Yes, coffee beans do pop like popcorn, dehydrating for some time and increasing in size once more. The Roastmeister gets a tester and smells the coffee beans to test readiness. He was estimating the right one for a good roast fit for an espresso.
After coffee beans pop, it takes a few moments before it will roast well with the preferred medium roast fit for espresso. The taste of coffee is also influenced by their roast with most unpleasantly bitter coffee beans due to roasters over-roasting beans hence the taste. Nang Karen does regular quality test with the beans to ensure they stick to a strict quality. Kuppa has no room for mediocre blends, just high quality blends to ensure that customers enjoy their coffee. As the Roastmeister determined the roast, beans were dropped to cylindrical cool for few minutes and stored for three days.
Who says Kuppa is just for coffee and tea? Kuppa proves you wrong for they serve must try gourmet dishes that will make you come back too. For appetizer, they have their signature Insalata Kuppa with perfect mix of romaine, aurugula and purple lettuces with grapes, figs, walnuts and their specially-made salad dressing. You must also try their Prosciutto and Pumpkin Sandwich, a blend of pumpkin’s sweetness and the prosciutto’s saltiness with a spread of homemade pesto.
Gourmet pizzas are highly prized in my list and Kuppa is no tailgater. Take a look at Prosciutto ed Aurugula, a pizza that is reminiscent of Pizza Margherita, only aurugula instead of basil and has prosciutto. Christina’s Pizza is my favorite, named after the wife of Kuppa‘s head chef, Chef Rommel. Sweet and saltiness plays more in my mouth with mozzarella, balsamic, gorgonzola, figs and grapes. Sweet fruits are a no-no to me in pizzas but I guess, my mind changed and it does work after all. I normally eat a pizza with fork and table knife but did it the way real Italianos do it, by hand and rolled up.
How about Fruitti di Mare Pasta or “Fruit of the Sea“ Seafood Pasta? Seafood lovers like me would appreciate bit of Fruitti di Mare with its rich seafood mix like salmon, clams and shrimp with a rich thick sauce for the pasta. Most of seafood pastas are tasteless with the pasta base but this one absorbed the seafood flavor. The presence of Crispy Pata suprised me but why not? Crispy, falls off the bone, if Kuppa‘s motto is “Coffee as it should be“, I say “Crispy Pata as it should be” as well. Be thrilled also with the sauce selection like the liver sauce, black onion with vinegar, classics, and apple chutney!
Check out Lamb Caldereta with classic Mediterranean flavors in bell peppers, roasted whole white onion and olives, with bits of liver to taste. Just as choice pieces of lamb is cooked flavorfully and perfectly, the sauce is worth a viand in itself so please pass more rice for this one! From land, let us go seafood once more with the Pan-Seared Snapper. The best piece of snapper seared to retain the juices sitting on top of potato cuts and topped with abalone on mushroom sauce, what could be better than a mix of earth and sea. The snapper is a breeze from the heavy but flavorful Lamb Calderata, perfect match.
Beef Salpicao can be the best ender for your set of viands in a lunch set. US Beef Tenderloin with mushrooms and guess what, cooked in extra virgin olive oil. It was not salty at all, without marinade added much with clean flavor. The classic tapas is “…as it should be“. The selections are available for lunch and dinner, though a bit pricey but can feed two to three hungry people. Meals are best with a glass or two of Aranciata, Berry Patch Delight or Sparkling Italian Lemonade.
At Kuppa, I have learned to keep it easy and drink trea before dessert. Fine quality tea selection are also available at Kuppa other than their coffee and tea lovers would be amused by it. They got the best in the house like the Gyokuro, a high grade Japanese tea with smooth herbal touch and a light, clean taste. The Jasmine Dragon Pearl Tea is another high grade tea from China rolled into pearl balls with jasmine flowers or what we know as sampaguita to add scent. Jasmine Tea is a staple in restaurants at Binondo but I guess this one’s an acquired taste. I love jasmine tea and this one was no exception.
Mint Tea is my favorite tisane and glad that they offered Casablanca Mint Tea. This tisane is good for colds, coughs or to just simply clear the throat or soothe your senses, a perfect compliment to a meat-heavy meal. Casablanca Mint tea still has a light and smooth consistency but a cooling sensation is evident. A cup of tea after a heavy meal helps in good digestion process which prevents bloating and hyperacidity. After some moments, Matt’s Chocolate Cake was served on our table for coffee pairing. More than an ender, it was the highlight where coffee is paired with the right dessert for taste.
Matt’s Chocolate Cake, a chocolate lava cake, found its perfect tandem with Sumatra Mandheling Coffee. This high-grade coffee grown in Sumatran, Indonesia has a slight chocolatey taste which made it the best pair for the chocolate cake. We had a taste of Apple Tart paired with Hinalaban Coffee, local coffee grown in highland Bukidnon. This very mountainous province is famous for fruits, especially pineapple. True with its fruity reputation, Hinalaban Coffee sports a fruity taste, that made it a good compliment for the Apple Tart. This Apple Tart has real apple chunks, not extenders.
Strawberry Kiss, chiffon cake with real strawberry slices, heralded more challenge for the coffee tasters of the day. Best paired with Ben’s Cappuccino, coffee drink blend named after the owner’s father who never fails to take a daily morning cappuccino. Ben’s Cappuccino is light and fluffy apart from froth which goes with lightness of chiffon. The last coffee blend that proved a challenge is the Espresso Shot. This espresso is strong but is noticeably not bitter. Coffee should not be bitter but only strong since bitter coffee is from burnt beans. A Chocolate Chip Cookie is recommended to temper the taste.
“Coffee as it should be“, the motto of Kuppa, has been the insignia of quality for this Bacolod café brand. Discover all this at CommerCenter Building, 31st St. corner 4th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, near St. Luke’s Medical Center at Global City. Kuppa Fort Bonifacio is open from 7am to 11pm all day of the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Credits to Jo and Mark Tan who did well in documenting for República Negrénse and for the friendly manager and staff who gave me a complimentary iced tea on my recent visit. Experience of expertly-brewed coffee and good food so visit Kuppa soon.