Red and black and brown all over but most importantly, all Filipino.
I’d seen Café de Lipa‘s newest branch being built in Market! Market! A short distance from Spices & Flavours, its red and black motif and telling name offer plenty to stoke my coffee interest. One day at the Mall of Asia (MOA), after a particularly propitious Booksale run, my over-weighted bags grind into my shoulders effectively killing my intention for a pitstop at Blenz Coffee.
Suddenly, familiar red signage beckons from the distance: Café de Lipa. Sustenance as savior ”“ yes!
Café de Lipa is the result of one family’s century-old involvement with coffee; Jose H. Mercado, the owner of Café de Lipa is the descendant of the Macasaet clan who planted the Philippine’s first coffee tree in Lipa City in the 1800s. Fast forward to the 21st century, Mercado’s company has invested in coffee processing technology producing two coffee brands, Batangas Brew and Kapeng Barako. Just like its predecessors, Café de Lipa, the third brand, serves coffee made from the family’s combination of coffee beans and roasting system.
- you can see my two oversized bags bursting with books
As an establishment, Café de Lipa successfully taps its heritage to produce a definable sense-of-place that is at once pleasing and elegant. The wicker furniture is classy, practically Kenneth Cobonpue clones; the walls are red, reminding me of Segafredo (are they still around, aside from their Podium branch?); and when I look up, there’s an impressive Café de Lipa in lights. See the picture above to see what I mean.
- Ugu Bigyan’s signature
This is a place that reinforces my belief that coffee ”“ or any drink, really – tastes better when the vessel it’s served in is chosen with care. Take a look at these cups and tell me that you’re not blown away by their aesthetics. Crafted by no less than master potter himself, Ugu Bigyan, I’m grateful to have nabbed the last set for sale.
As a coffeeshop, Café de Lipa prides itself on serving coffee that, as Jose H. Mercado has said in previous interviews, “[is]…different because it’s real and comes from the place where the coffee industry was born.” Though the servers heartily recommend the Barakoccino (a barako riff on the cappuccino), I want to taste the coffee as is, so I order a small Kapeng Barako, a beverage using the café’s blend of Liberica coffee beans. The coffee that arrives is, as the Turkish proverb goes, “black as hell and strong as death…” Possessing that earthy aroma characteristic of Philippine coffee mingling with chocolate, its flavor is bright and a tad acidic. The espresso shot I order later, is thick and syrupy, perfect for someone like me who’s just getting used to espresso.
- tinapa paté; photo taken with my Nokia 6700 Classic
Trendy coffee drinkers will find the usual suspects here matched with savories and sweets standing tall and proudly Pinoy. Tinapa paté (smoked fish spread which I find a little too fishy) or adobo paté with pan de sal, and charming bar cookies that I look forward to trying another day ”“ moist barako brownies, calamansi crunch, pili nut bars, and a decadent chocolate cake made with tableya.
Café de Lipa branches:
Lipa Branch 32 San Carlos drive, Mataas na Lupa, Lipa City, Batangas
Petron Star Km 80 along STAR tollway, Brgy. Tibig, Lipa City
Petron Macapagal, Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, ParaÃ±aque City
SM Mall of Asia, North Arcade beside Hypermart
Market! Market! Ground floor, Station square
Figaro Coffee Tour