Say Yes To Freedom: Starbucks Celebrates Independence Day

Calling all Pinoy coffeeholics! Starbucks will be offering an Independence Day Promo tomorrow. On June 12, you get a tall handcrafted beverage of your choice for every purchase of a Philippine Collector Series or Kape Vinta Blend merchandise. Celebrate Pinoy Pride tomorrow! For more information on this and other Starbucks promos, visit the Starbucks Promotions page.

Say Yes!
Say Yes!

Say Yes to Freedom Philippine Independence day Promo:

  1. Customers will receive a complimentary Tall handcrafted beverage for every purchase of ANY Philippine Collector Series (mug or tumbler) or Kape Vinta products (250 g. whole bean or tumbler) on June 12, 2014.
  2. Demitasse set is not included.
  3. Complimentary handcrafted beverage must be redeemed on the date, time and point of purchase only.
  4. Starbucks handcrafted beverages include brewed coffee, espresso-based beverages, tea, hot chocolate and Frappuccino Blended Beverages.
  5. Bottled beverages (bottled water, fruit juices) and brewed Starbucks Reserve™ are excluded from this promotion.
  6. This promotion cannot be combined with other offers and promos.
  7. Offer is only valid in all Starbucks stores in the Philippines.

Per DTI-NCR Permit #4209, Series of 2014.


1,845 Calories for a Starbucks Planner

So it’s that time of the year again, eh? If you’re not aware of the mechanics (which rock have you been hiding in?), coffee shops all over the metro release an annual Christmas promo where you collect a number of stickers by buying a drink and at the end you get a limited edition planner. This year, the Starbucks planner comes in 4 colors- yellow, brown, magenta, and the generic black. From November 2, 2013 until January 8, 2014, you need 9 Christmas drinks and 9 other drinks of your choice to get one.

Did you ever stop to wonder just how much you’ll be spending and how much calories you’ll be ingesting for one? The people over at created this infographic below to show you the gory details (haha).

Cost of the Starbucks 2014 Planner

After seeing this, are you still getting one? Or all of them? Personally, I prefer the Coffee Been and Tea Leaf ones this year. If Starbucks had the Orange Mocha flavor (offered as a Christmas drink in Switzerland), I’d be all over it in an instant.

Starbucks Switzerland's 2013 Christmas Drinks

I don’t care what the millions of naysayers say, being a fan of orange chocolate (am I the only one??), I really, reallly, reaaally want this drink to be available here.

Thanks for the tip, DJ!


Do You Really Like Coffee?

Coffee is an essential part of life. Specially if you stayed up late the previous night watching the entire third season of The Walking Dead in preparation for the new season even though you need to clock in the office by eight the next day. The night after, you still can’t sleep after a full day because flashbacks of creepy, smelly zombies attacking you in the middle of sleep scares you to death. By the third day, you’d need to summon the magical powers of caffeine to defog the haze that is your brain in order to be able to juggle multiple work things at once (or you know, just put one foot in front of the other).

A dash of cinnamon for a bit of spice.

It would be the time when a steaming cup of strong coffee would be a picker upper, a life saver, and breakfast all at once. But if not for necessity, would you actually drink the stuff? Do you actually like how it tastes like? When you order your “coffee” drinks from your favorite coffee shop, is it the coffee that you’re after? Or all the other elements that help mask (or at least dilute) its actual taste? Without all the frills, coffee straight out of the pot is bitter brown liquid that leaves a distinct unpleasant flavor (and sometimes, even texture) in your mouth long after the cup is finished. You know, like when you haven’t brushed your teeth in days.

The smell of coffee is just lovely?

Ever wonder why coffee tastes horrible when it’s room temperature? Hot coffee is heaven sent, while iced coffee is a sweet treat but room temperature coffee is crap. Why? Live Science theorizes that since our taste receptors are less sensitive at extreme temperatures, our brains are probably distracted from the actual coffee flavor. When drinking coffee at room temperature, we get to taste its full flavor. This brings us back to the fact that coffee doesn’t actually taste pleasant.

Scorn all you want, but I love milk in my coffee.

There are a number of coffee beans from many different sources and all you coffee connoisseurs can look down on me and say that not all beans are created alike, but the general consensus is that coffee is bitter. Humans were created to naturally dislike bitter flavors to avoid ingesting potentially poisonous nature stuff (although it can be argued that coffee is some sort of a poison). In line with this, it seems that we are predisposed to dislike the taste of coffee but for one reason or another, we have acquired the taste for this bitter brew.

It may be for clearing your head in the morning or because the cool kids seem to be on the bandwagon or to help with digestion after a full meal, but evolution has it that we keep on drinking this curious drink.

P.S. Here’s an interesting read from Lifehacker about what caffeine actually does to your brain. It’s all science-y and stuff.


Earn Stars With Your Starbucks Card, Now Available At Your Favorite Branch!

The Philippines Starbucks Card is now available in all Starbucks branches! Just load an initial consumable load of P300 and you get the Starbucks Card for free and can start using it right away.

The card looks classy, sporting a simplistic design- lime green on the left and transparent on the rightmost side, accented with a simple Starbucks coffee cup.

How the Stars work

It works like a prepaid card where you load it up (in denominations of P100) and use it as your credit when buying anything from Starbucks. You earn 1 Star with each purchase via the Starbucks Card.

  • 1 handcrafted beverage of any size = 1 beverage Star
  • 1 250g whole been coffee = 1 whole been Star
  • 1 12-pack Starbucks VIA Ready Brew = 1 Starbucks VIA Star

What you get for free

  • Any Grande handcrafted beverage for every 12 beverage Stars
  • Any 250g of whole been coffee for every 10 whole been Stars
  • Any 12-pack of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew for every 10 Starbucks VIA Stars
  • A complimentary beverage as soon as you register your card on the Starbucks Philippines Website
  • A complimentary slice of cake during your birth month

From August 7-9, they’re also offering a free p300 load value if you get a Starbucks Card with an initial load of p1500 to make your total balance P1800. It’s a really cool deal. If you frequent Starbucks’, you should definitely get one. If not for anything else, you get a free beverage just for registering, and a free slice of cake on your birth month.

Head on over to to find out more.


Did you know?

Did you know that there’s an unadvertised Starbucks coffee cup size? No branch will blatantly tell you about it but besides the regular Tall, Grande, and Venti sizes, there’s another cup called Short.

Here it is next to a Grande cup.

Smaller than the Tall cup, which is the declared smallest Starbucks cup, the Short cup holds about 250ml of hot drink. Seems perfect for those days when you need a quick picker upper or for kids who like having their own cups (of hot chocolate, of course). Ask your local barista about it tomorrow. 🙂


Cappuccino Cravings: The hunt for the best cup in town

Until recently, cappuccino wasn’t my cup of tea (erm, coffee?). It wasn’t until I learned to add a dash of cinnamon in my coffee did I learn to appreciate the foamy goodness of cappuccino (or so this guy claims). Whatever the reason, now I’ve become some kind of a nut, pftoo-ing* any other caffeine drink without a decent amount of foam on it.

What kind of a a nut have I become? (sometimes, I wonder why I’m too honest in this blog) The kind that’s nutty enough to go forth and compare the cappuccinos that locally accessible cafes have to offer. Now before you call me crazy, I claim that I did it for y’all. You know, so wouldn’t need to make the mistake of going to a place with terrible cappuccino (coz’ I’m nice liek that).

Here’s my list so far-

Seattle’s Best Coffee
Rating: 3 of 5

It's a foam world.

Seattle’s Best’s Cappuccino has the most foam out of all the ones on this list. The coffee is strong but there is enough milk to neutralize the flavor and end up with a pleasant blend. Particularly good when you need to pull an all-nighter and cram study a semester long worth of topics. The branch along Valero street in Makati is one of the few coffee shops (that i know of) that is open 24 hours.

Rating: 4 of 5

The old reliable

The cappuccino from Starbucks is surprisingly the one that gives the most bang for the buck (if you order in). The medium Grande mug has more than enough to keep you awake for at least a couple of days, depending on your caffeine tolerance. The amount of foam and the drink itself do not disappoint, like usual. Given that there’s a branch or two in many corners of the city, this one is like your favorite pair of jeans, the one you use too often- looks good, fits you well, and lasts you a pretty long time.

Rating: 1 of 5

Wherefore art froth?

McCafe’s cappuccino is the cheapest of the bunch but is also the least frothy. Without froth, a coffee drink is not a cappuccino, it’s merely coffee with milk. I can’t even say you get what you pay for, because I paid for a cappuccino and got a poor tasting latte with half an attempt at coffee art (the cup had a crooked letter M or it could have been a squiggly of chocolate powder on top).

Real Coffee & Tea Cafe
Rating: 4 of 5

A little bit of home away from home

This quaint little shop in Boracay run by a friendly American lady is known better for their famous Calamansi Muffins more than their coffee. While the muffins are spectacular (a separate post will be up soon), the coffee is really good. If you sit at the bar, you get to see them making the coffee and frothing the milk by hand. It’s as if you woke up with a coffee connoisseur in your kitchen making you a particularly good cup of coffee in the morning. The drinks are reasonably priced too, especially for a coffeeshop that’s in Boracay.

UCC Cafe Terrace
Rating: 3 of 5

Love at first sniff

UCC is not one the coffee shops that I frequent, mostly because it’s unreasonably expensive for me. Their cappuccino is affordable enough (roughly around Php110) but the cup is smaller than others (on this list). If you don’t mind the size, the coffee is pretty good with a fair amount of foam. And although it shouldn’t be a factor in determining good coffee, UCC’s clear glass mugs are a pretty sight to see (and sip from).

Caffe Ti-Amo
Rating: 2 of 5

Thick and strong Italian

This newish coffee shop in Greenbelt 5 had interesting menu choices including gelato on espresso and an intriguing-looking tea, but I had to try their cappuccino first. Their cappuccino has the thickest foam I’ve seen on a cup, a wooden stirrer placed in the middle of all the froth will not sink to the mug edges (true story). While a lot of foam is great, the espresso they used was a tad too strong for my liking. I had to pour in a lot of extra milk in it, and even then, it was still too strong.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Rating: 5 of 5

This foamy cup hits the right spot every damn time

This is my go to cappuccino. CBTL never disappoints. While other coffee shops’ coffee blends vary depending on the barista, CBTL has remained constantly great. This happy cup is a perfect blend of good coffee, soft foam, and a healthy amount of milk- exactly how a cappuccino should be.


Just what is it about this Italian coffee drink that’s got me hook, line and sinker? Honestly, I’m not too sure. What I do know is that this blend of espresso and hot milk, topped with (very) thick frothed milk, with a dash of cinnammon and spoonfuls of brown or muscovado sugar makes my bad days go away.

Are you a cappuccino lover too? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.

*pftoo-ing : A verb I made up that means the act of spitting liquid out in distaste with pouty lips on (go on, try it)


Cafeño: The Starbucks of the Fifties?

Back for another guest post is our favorite blogger (and person, in general), mastermind, Bim(by). He tells us of a Batangas coffeehouse from the fifties (?) called Cafeno. Check out his story below.

When you think of Batangas, you generally tend to think about a few key elements of the province. You’ve got the beaches and nature reserves, the butterfly blades (balisong) and of course, the coffee. Oh my god, the coffee. As most coffee enthusiasts from the Philippines know, it doesn’t get much better than our own home brewed barako blend. If you’re into authentic barako coffee and the quaint feel of small coffee shops, then Cafeño is a must visit for when you make that trip to Batangas.

Located at No. 9 Rizal cor. Gen. Luna St, Poblacion, San Juan, Batangas, it’s literally been there since the 50’s. At least, judging from the pictures hanging on the wall, it certainly stood there in the 50’s. Could’ve been there way before that, though. We found the place because of our pursuit of kapeng barako, actually. We stopped at some souvenir shop for various knick knacks, and we did find some barako beans there, but we wanted some instant gratification. The lady at the counter told us of Cafeño with nary a thought immediately after we asked where we could stop over for some freshly brewed barako java. To our surprise, the café was actually quite a ways from the souvenir shop; I guess Cafeño is just that dang popular around there.

What amazed me upon entering the establishment was the perfect marriage of a modern coffee shop and oldey times Philippines. The  pillars were made of tree trunks. Not just the wood, mind you. They were made from actual trunks that weren’t really all that straight. Some tables were made from super old sewing machines with the pedal still intact and moving. A sign hung on the wall, saying coffee was only ¢5, along with various posters from the American occupation. Various items from the past were strewn across the place like a museum. They even had those charcoal irons that Filipinos used to use in the Spanish era. It was like a time machine, in coffee shop form!

We’ve established that the ambiance was spot on perfect, so it would be a shame if the coffee or the food wouldn’t be up to snuff, right? Thankfully, the noms satisfied beyond expectations. We tried some cassava cake (whose price escapes me at the moment) and I swear to whatever deity you worship, it was soft and sweet and it practically melted your my mouth.

The aforementioned casava cake (> P75, maybe)

There were a number of other drinks there, as well, of course. I honestly believe no coffee shop would be complete without hot chocolate, and Cafeño’s was quite possibly the most childhood-memory inducing of all hot chocolate drinks I’ve ever  had the pleasure of enjoying. Their hot chocolate, called Spanish Cocoa, is served with some pinipig (see image below). Sipping the hot chocolate and munching on semi-mushy pinipig made me feel like a child again – inside our old house in Pasay, enjoying some chocolate while listening to the rain drops hit the roof. Yes, it was a Ratatouille moment.

Spanish Cocoa (p45)

And now we get to the main event – the coffee. The kapeng barako was served in an unassuming maroon mug  with some optional milk, packets of artificial sweetener, sugar and brown sugar. I actually don’t take my coffee without sugar but I figured to fully enjoy the cup, I had to first sip the coffee totally pure and untarnished. Surprisingly, the coffee had the perfect level of bitterness, mixed with the very distinct barako taste and that signature barako kick. At the risk of being scoffed at by real coffee lovers, I will admit to putting some brown sugar in my coffee eventually. I simply enjoy it better that way. And true enough, it was probably best cup of coffee I had in a very, very long time. The kicker? One cup of perfect kapeng barako only costs P35.00.

If you ever find yourself on your way to Laiya, be sure to stop by for a quick joe break. You will not regret it. You can follow them on Facebook.

*photos courtesy of guest post author, Bim.


My Comfort Drink – Starbucks Coffee Jelly (with mocha drizzle on the jelly)
You wake up late and the traffic is extra heavy making you miss your morning meeting and get yelled at by your boss. After which you find out that your credit card bill is already due but you don’t have enough in your bank account until next payday which isn’t until next month. It starts pouring as you head home, you forgot to bring an umbrella and you’re wearing your newest pair of shoes. Then you get home soaked to the bone and find a nasty little surprise from your puppy right dab smack in the middle of the living room carpet.  

Isn’t life just grand? We all get bad days like this every so often. We just trudge along as best we can after it, what other choice do we have but to cheer ourselves up and believe that tomorrow would be a better day? And for a good majority of us, the simplest way to cheer up is through good food. Comfort food, they call it.

I love Coffee Jelly  (p155)
Mine comes in the form of a drink. In particular, my comfort drink is Starbucks’ lovely Coffee Jelly. This drink can give me the happies no matter how down I am. But the typical order of Coffee Jelly won’t lull me into a false sense of security. It has to be this specific mix that few people know of- Coffee Jelly; grande, light, no whipped cream, with mocha drizzle on the jelly. 

What makes all the difference in my drink from the regular one is the mocha drizzle on the jelly. Yes, not on the frappe, not on the whipped cream, not anywhere else, but on the jelly, and just on the jelly (I’m anal like that). My regular coffee date, Mr. Poopie (guess why that’s his new nick) looks at me like I’m batshit crazy every time I order like this. Deep inside, he adores this drink too. I love how the jelly gives texture to the drink. It’s nice to be chewing on something while mulling things over, it soothes me, comforts me.

What about you, what’s your comfort food? ^_~