Here’s a list of my liquid comforts for when it’s wet and pouring outside.
The room is darker than usual when my alarm goes off at 6:40am today. I’m ripped, cursing, from a slumber so deep, so involved, that it can only be induced by the coolness of a rainstorm. It’s cold and as I head downstairs, my mind fills with thoughts of liquid warmth. Here, what I reach for when the wet weather – and my subsequent mood – demands for it.
Flat White at Dome or McCafé
Read this first to understand exactly what a flat white is, and why exactly, I make it my mission to comprehend it when I’m in Sydney earlier this year. Though the snootiest of coffee connoisseurs maintain that a flat white is worlds away from a plain latte in terms of the foam’s lightness, in reality, it’s a lot simpler than that. A flat white and a latte – as an all-knowing Australian barista explains to me – differs only in the vessel they’re served in: a latte is served in a tall, transparent glass, a flat white is served in a short, squat mug.
In Manila, a flat white, as seen clearly from their menus, is served only in Dome and at McCafé where I enjoy not only the cappuccino but also the Cocoa Steamer which I still maintain is one of the best hot chocolate drinks in Manila. It’s perfect too for sipping during dreary weather.
It might be projection or what psychologists term as the “power of suggestion,” but calling a latte a flat white makes it all the more luxurious for me. Somehow, I enjoy it more. I like how the milk, in micro-bubbles and liquid taste starkly different on the tongue, embracing one another as they swoop together in a smooth swallow. This, they manage to do while capping a cup of strong coffee, cutting through its sharpness and acidity. Though I’ll often take my coffee black, I’ll echo what I mention in my Sydney post, “Flat whites forever!”
And oh, if you press me to choose which flat white is better – Dome’s or McCafé’s, I’ll have to say Dome’s, but only by the slightest of margins. It’s rich, like liquid luxury, even when I ask for it to be made with skim milk. Plus, I love the old world charm of Dome’s interiors.
McCafé is at larger McDonald’s branches.
Dome Café fanpage
Kopi at Toast Box
When it comes to kaya toast and strong coffee, I’m forever loyal to Ya Kun, but since its demise, I’ve had to look for a surrogate, so to speak. Kopi Roti is fine but I quite prefer Toast Box. Of course it’s their mountain of butter that draws me in – how can such an unabashed monument to pleasure be denied? – but there are other attractions.
I’ve never been to Toast Box and had anything other than their breakfast food; I’ve had their breakfast even at 5pm. Have never given the time of day to their soups, not even their laksa. My staple there is their Kopi which is their strong coffee mixed with condensed milk. (Ask for the Skinny Kopi if you want a plain black joe). I used to have their Kaya Toast set (kopi, 2 soft-boiled eggs, kaya on bread) until a friend introduced me to something I’m enjoying a bit too much: the Thick Peanut Toast.
Frankly, this brekkie dish has me at Peanut Butter. First, it’s shiny like you wouldn’t believe, a rather luminous come-hither shine. Its shining surface is studded with roasted peanuts blanketed as they are by a caramel-colored cover. Invisible they might be but their smoky flavor comes through loud and proud. The toast is thoughtfully cut into finger-sized bites, each one is marvelous when chased with a searing sip of the kopi lashed with condensed milk.
I’ll tell you now that my Toast Box store of choice is the one at the Fort. It’s clean and has muted lighting that makes everyone look lovely. The Greenbelt 5 branch on the other hand, is another story.
Green Tea Latte at Blenz
Blenz Coffee is my indulgent pleasure when I’m in the vicinity of any of their four stores. Yes, not too many of them, which is why a drink here is more than worthwhile for me. I love their mochas (white, milk, and dark chocolate!) but I adore the Green Tea Latte, mostly because it’s crafted with such care.
As you can see from the photo above, it’s served on a tatami, a Japanese-style mat also used for sushi. Its muted green echoes the color of the cargo it carries, a cup of liquid, hot and frothy. I appreciate these little details that food and drink purveyors extend to what they serve.
The cup is hot, and inside it, its liquid equally so. A whiff reveals a milky front, but its middle hints of the tannins of its green tea. A sip – oops, too far in- gifts me with a milk mustache. I giggle and try again. Milky again, my tongue is wrapped in bubbles of the finest form playing tag and tease. Then tastes of tea are divulged, gentle green never glaring, and a swipe of the subtlest sweet at the end.