I admit to feeling consternation and frankly, frustration at the lousy restaurant experiences I’ve been having lately. So, to get myself to an even keel again, I’ve been baking a lot, revisiting what I call my restaurant reliables, and regrouping in coffee shops.
Unlike restaurants, there’s a certain romance to be had in cafés and the fantasies they convey in cups of caffeine. That the air is alive with an alluring perfume is a plus of course, and so is the energy gained from inhaling it energetically.
Epic Café in Kapitolyo is introduced to me by one of my best friends, Zarah. Street smart and tough-as-nails, the woman knows her brew back and forth because she works in the coffee industry. She taught me how to drink my coffee black because she despises milky joes.
From the get go, I’ll tell you now that whether Epic lives up to its name or not entirely depends on you and your definition of that word. When it opens late last year, I meet Epic’s PR manager and the daughter (I think) of the owners. The café’s superlative name is chosen, I’m told, because of its notable position in modern day colloquialism, right up there with ‘awesome’ and ‘hot.’ For me, I don’t see Epic as an adjective; it’s just its name.
More on the coffee later but for now, Epic’s interiors are highly engaging. Entering the glass door is like being transported to the intersection of wood and retro at the stop sign of brick. I love the look of these roughly finished materials and how they complement the seating set-up. A long bench takes up residence at the back facing a white wall scribbled – like the other walls are – with pithy sayings, mostly about bicycles and balance. And yes, there are about 2-3 bicycles on the premises, part of the owners’ collection, as are other memorabilia; look carefully and see what you can spot.
My favorite accent pieces are on the far wall arrayed with cheeky signs and shelves of coffee merchandise for sale. Especially enviable is the top shelf above the baristas where an arrangement of copper tea kettles, siphon brewers, and antique coffee grinders are displayed.
Now, about the coffee. Half of Epic’s beans are sourced locally, quality stuff from Bukidnon to Benguet. The coffee menu (P80-P100) is small and armed with the basics, with a nod to an affogato since Epic also sells gelato, and matcha tea, a concession to non-java drinkers. The baristas move with an economy of movement and speech: there’s no pulling of shots with drama or flair, and orders are served at table sans the hyper-enthusiastic name-calling prevalent at other cafés.
When I’m at Epic with Zarah, we like to gab over cups of black coffee. Steamy and hot, it washes down our sweets quite well. The first few times I’m here, the pastries are, bluntly put, as dry as the desert and equally uninteresting. Zarah, who knows the people behind Epic, tells them, and I’m happy to report that the pastries have greatly improved. The Rhum Cake (P75), though not especially rummy, has a tight, buttery crumb perfect for dipping into coffee. The Farmer’s Muffin (P95) is tall and imposing, stuffed with all manner of dried fruit.
When I come to Epic with my Bin, we order different things because he’s not a coffee drinker. The only way he’ll drink coffee is if it’s milked up and “mocha’ed.” So the Mochachino (P100/P120) it is for him, sweet and swirled lazily with chocolate syrup. My Cappuccino, though not served in the proper mug, has a velvety foam, more akin to a flat white but it fits me fine. I’ll go so far as to say that the coffee and food at Epic isn’t ‘epic,’ – what is, really? – but it’s sufficient and honestly offered.
Epic also has a special service that not many people know about. Because it’s owned by the same people as Poco Deli, you can eat the latter’s food at Epic. “Ahhh…” is the collective reaction to that revelation. Just ask for the menu – it really should be left out on the counter – and a telephone call quickly dispatches the orders. Give or take 15 minutes, and the food comes in through the front door brought by one of Poco Deli’s waiters. And isn’t that nice, the food is properly wrapped up to protect it from the elements. My Bin likes the Meat Loaf with Rice (above; P350) alternating it with the Thick Bacon with Rice. Zarah loves the Tapa with Rice, and I swoon for the Bolognese pasta, one of the best in Manila. Eat and enjoy it here at Epic.
102 East Capitol Drive
Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City
On Facebook: coffeeisepic
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Pop! Goes The Pandesal