Coffee 101: My Starbucks Philippines’ Coffee College Experience
When I’m not relaxed on a plane seat, you will find me in the nearest Starbucks coffee shop writing stories of my recent travels while enjoying a refreshing cup of cappuccino. Coffee has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. This is why when I heard that Starbucks Philippines was looking for participants for the Starbucks Philippines Coffee College, I quickly signed myself up. Four food and coffee-making and pairing courses? Count me in.
Last June 17, members of the media, Starbucks Rewards members, and yours truly, were greeted by some of the country’s coffee and culinary geniuses—Starbucks Philippines’ Assistant Manager for Food Celine Lichauco, Senior Learning Specialist Third Villaflor, and Gourmet Garage’s very own Chef Booj Supe.
Other significant people present were Miguel Bautista, Ces Ranillo, and Ana Mendoza, who all received awards in the recent 2017 Starbucks China & Asia Pacific Regional Championships.
The big idea behind Coffee College is to gain a deeper appreciation of everyone’s favorite cup of caffeine. The menu prepared for us featured dishes that were paired with the most suitable coffee. It sort of reminded me of my pintxos crawling back in Spain. During then, we learned that each kind of pintxos was good on its own, but the taste and experience of it was elevated to heavenly extents when paired with the right kind of wine.
Similarly, our coffee-and-lunch menu that was prepared by Lichauco had the same concept, although, for this one, we were taught to brew our own cup of coffee before eating it with the complementing dish!
For appetizers, we had Petite Mesclun and Raspberry Salad, an aesthetic presentation of green apple wedges, fresh and crunchy mesclun, pears, and oranges, with a thick raspberry vinaigrette. This dish was paired with Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee, which was so smooth and light. It went well with the slight citrusy taste of the salad.
For our main dish, we had Sous Vide Angus Beef with Almond Gouda Crumbs. Served with greens, baby carrots, this delicious plate was paired with Starbucks’ signature Kati-Kati brewed. With a coffee press, they demonstrated how to properly brew the coffee beans that are exclusively shipped from Kenya and Ethiopia. The flavors of my cup of Kati-Kati Blend, together with my Sous Vide Angus Beef, danced inside my mouth. The coffee was mildly spicy, and it went well with the gouda cheese of the oh-so-tender, medium-well Angus beef.
Our second main dish was the Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Lime Buerre Blanc. The juicy slice was generously rubbed with cilantro, and the Starbucks Reserve Rwanda Musasa went well with the natural acidity of the dish. My drink was created using two methods, namely the “pour-over cone brew” and the “Chemex”. The first method brought out the clean and full flavor of the coffee beans, which was more subtle than the lime of the Lime Buerre Blanc. On the other hand, the Chemex style brought out the darker flavors of the coffee, which went well with stronger and smoky flavor of the grilled meat.
To cap our meal, we had a Coffee Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream. The jelly was made from Starbucks VIA Italian Roast, and we were given a sachet of Starbucks VIA Matcha to sprinkle over the cream. I’ve never had coffee and matcha that good together. The jelly had a very bold taste, but the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream toned it down a bit. The refreshing flavor of matcha also gave the entire dish a really nice twist.
After finally eating my last scoop of coffee jelly, we were rewarded with certificates. It was a fun and filling experience, and it greatly changed my previous concept of coffee. Aside from giving me energy and serving as a companion while I manage my social media accounts, coffee can also, surprisingly, be elevated like wine. It is true, then, that coffee goes well with everything.
Starbucks is a coffee company that was first founded in Seattle, USA. In December 1997, the first branch in the Philippines, and the third Starbucks franchise to open outside of North America was launched in Makati City. Since then, the coffee shop has expanded its market and became one of the most patronized names in the industry.