The coffee is served in a heat-proof wine glass with a description of the taste profile on a tray.
Like drinking wine, you swirl the glass, sniff and sip the coffee to feel the palate sensation
By Marge C. Enriquez
The Ethiopia arabica coffee exudes sharp notes, tempered by sweet floral sensations. The experience is heightened by the ambience: either alfresco, overlooking Manila Bay or inside the midcentury coffee shop with a library above the counter. At the Ramon Magsaysay Center, the home of Gourmet Farms Inc., The Library Café (TLC) is about the customer experience and an education in coffee.
Though modest at 34 sq.m., TLC packs a wallop in flavors with its menu ranging from the buttery and airy pistachio sans rival to the pastas and paninis and the signature salads, wraps and coolers from Gourmet Farms.
It’s a place for coffee connoisseurs who are looking for specialty coffees, single origin beans, delicate roast profiles and interesting brews. These are the hallmarks of “third-wave coffee,” with emphasis on high quality coffee; the first two waves were about the evolution of the coffee culture and coffee shops.
While millennials and Gen Z would prefer their iced coffee, condensed milk-rich Spanish latté or tiramisu frappé, the discriminating customer would opt for the pour-over coffee. TLC’s method involves pouring mineral water through freshly ground beans in a tempered glass. It looks like a fancy version of the DIY drip coffee wherein the water seeps through the coffee and the filter into your cup. The infusion technique, which draws out the oils and fragrances from the coffee solubles, makes the coffee more aromatic and fresh tasting.
What makes TLC special are the people behind it. Vince Santos is the Q grader, the coffee equivalent of the wine sommelier, who selects the best coffees to work with and makes the blends. The Q grader undergoes several tests that measure his sensory aptitude before he is certified. Beverage specialist and head barista Baron Dizon creates the designs on the dairy and plant milk-based coffees and the presentations.
“We pour over the ground coffee and extract the flavors with a three-minute extractor. As the temperature of the coffee drops, its flavor changes. It’s more about the experience,” says Paolo Quimson, franchise operations director of Gourmet Farms.
The coffee is served in a heat-proof wine glass with a description of the taste profile on a tray. Like drinking wine, you swirl the glass, sniff and sip the coffee to feel the palate sensation. When the coffee cools down, the temperature changes, as do the color and flavor. After the palette is cleansed with water, the coffee will yet again taste different.
Majority of the pour-over coffees are made with the smoother and sweeter arabica beans, while 30 percent are from the bitter robusta.
The TLC blend has a chocolatey finish. The single origins exude a heady mix of notes. The arabica from Bujumbura, Burundi, a coffee exporting country from East Africa, lets out notes of orange, berries and dried fruits. Beans from Kisii County, Kenya ooze with red wine, tropical and intense floral notes. Another variety from Kenya gives out notes of currant, lemon and chocolate.
Coffee beans cultivated in higher elevations such as Ethiopia will be less acidic. Hence no palpitations, unlike the granulated coffee beans.
To educate the customers, TLC held a cupping session last April conducted by Santos. Prospective buyers sample the coffees and learn about their narrative before making their purchase.
In the end, TLC experience is about service, and why the coffee is so special. “The coffee experience is more refined today,” says Quimson.