Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dolce Vita el Dolce Gusto... Coffee, Tea, or Me?

My Nescafe Dolce Gusto Piccolo.
Espresso, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Latte, Iced Tea, etc. - quite versatile.  Hot and cold drinks, you name it! 
Rice Coffee Anyone?

I have been drinking coffee from the day I was born (exaggeration much!).  Well, I was breast fed until I was four (yes, that's right, that's "4") years old.  I do not wish to paint any "exotic" pictures but there were times when my younger brother (i.e., 2 years my junior) and I were fed at the same time.  LOL!  True story!   We were what you would call a typical Filipino family in the 70's.  My parents led a very modest life.  My father was a Philippine Coast Guard Master Sergeant and my mom stayed at home.  So, when I had to stop feeding on breast milk, I was introduced to coffee.  (No Gerber or anything.)  My mother would "burn" rice in a pan.  Well, the rice isn't really burnt.  It was just heated until it becomes crispy dark brown.  Then she would mix the "burnt" rice with boiling water.  Presto!  That's instant "rice coffee".  This is one of the traditional ways that locals of Southern Luzon (i.e., specifically Bicol Region from where my mother was born)  "simulate" coffee.  (Rice coffee is not actually a type of coffee.)  To complete my meal, my mom would mix up cold rice with the rice coffee.  There you go… that was my breakfast - replacement for the breast milk!

There was Blend 45, Nescafe, and Great Taste instant coffee.  They were the coffee brands popular with the "masses" at that time (I think up to now, right?).  We can't afford Sanka or Maxwell before (i.e., during the 70's and early 80's before the import liberalization program) since they can only be bought in speciality stores that sold "PX goods" (i.e., post exchange goods, restricted imported grocery items).  The locally-made instat coffee for the "masses" were sold in pretty glasses as sort of promotion.  My mom used to collect those.  We would use them as everyday drinking glasses.  The rice coffee is my mom's alternative whenever the instant coffee ran out before my dad's monthly paycheck.   Yeah, I know.  Life's a bitch... sometimes!

Caffe Lunggo made from my Piccolo.  Live Everyday!
My Daily Fix.

A morning or an afternoon without coffee would not be called a day.  I do not consume so much coffee compared to others who drink 4 to 6 cups a day.  I just have one cup in the morning and another in the afternoon.  After about two decades of consuming "instant coffee", I leveled up and drank brewed coffee (yes, that long.  LOL!).  I prepare much of the coffee I drink through drip brewing.  I experimented mostly with arabica and robusta. The best I made however, is a combination of robusta and the coffee beans produced in the Philippines (predominantly in Southern Luzon's Tagalog Region) - the "barako""Barako" is a Tagalog word that' refers to a persons who is "fearless".  This local coffee probably got its name because of its very strong flavor and aroma.  Hence, "barako".   Instead of the imported robusta, I use the local variety of robusta which is grown mostly in Northern Luzon.  It's called "kalinga" coffee.  My mixture of "kalinga" and "barako" is superb!  I won't tell you though the coffee ratio of my special blend.  LOL!

Fancy Blends.

Thankfully, there's Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, Seattle's Best, and Blenz for some espresso and other fancy coffee concoction.  If I think about however, the amount of money I spend every month for these commercially prepared coffees, I'm like, "whoa, so here's where my money went!".  But who could resist a grande caffe americano with an extra shot of espresso, extra foam, and a little dash of cinnamon and chocolate?  Yummy!

My Dolce Gusto Piccolo.

Late last year, Nescafe Dolce Gusto was introduced in the Philippines.  Making your own espresso (and other types of coffee) can prove to be cost-effective and a lot of fun .  Instead of buying my fourth drip coffee maker, I decided to buy a Piccolo Nescafe Dolce Gusto that cost 4 thousand Pesos (about 100 US Dollars).  The coffee capsules come in packages that cost 400 Pesos (about 10 US Dollars).  Each pack contains 16 capsules (8 coffee capsules and 8 milk/creamer capsules, or 16 espresso capsules).  A cappuccino therefore, through this appliance would just cost 50 Pesos (about 1.25 US Dollars).  That gives a lot of savings when the commercial counterpart costs about three times.

Sweet life!  This one's indeed, a best buy!  Not only that it produces great tasting (hot and cold) coffee (and tea) that is at par with those commercially available coffees, the appliance is made by DeLonghi.  I have a weird penchant for Italian-made appliances.  While growing up, my Nana would tell me that some of the well-made home appliances (and furnitures) are made in Italy.  This actually stuck in my head.  My Nana would add (among the many life lessons she taught me) that I have to "always" get the "best quality" for my money.  My Nana and Grandpop do not own a lot of stuff but every piece of furniture or appliance they own are all of fine quality.  Not only that Italian-made stuff are of high quality in terms of craftsmanship and materials, the designs are also exemplary.  Before my Piccolo, I already have a DeLonghi waffle maker and deep fryer.   Okay, the cost of these kitchen gadgets are way, way more than the ordinary ones.  But let me tell you, they are great investments.  So, I am very pleased when I learned that the Piccolo is actually made by DeLonghi.

The answer.

So, let's say I visit your house and you are to offer me something to drink.  You would jokingly ask "coffee, tea, or me?".   You now know what my answer to the question.  Definitely, COFFEE!  LOL! 

Cat Poop Coffee.

Philippine Civet Cat.   Photo is from
Civet Cat Poop - source of the most expensive and best tasting coffee in the whole world.  Do you see those coffee beans still intact?  Photo is from
The most expensive coffee in the world is the Civet Cat Coffee (also known as Alamid Coffee).  The Philippines is one of the top producers of this coffee.   The beans are eaten by the Civet Cat (i.e., "alamid" in the vernacular) off the coffee trees.  The beans passes through the digestive system of the civet cat.  The enzymes and gastric juices of the cat changed the coffee beans in some way.  Locals of Southern Luzon and Mindanao (e.g., Davao) would pick up the poop of the civet cat (usually found in the coffee farms) with the still intact (but enhanced) coffee beans.  These coffee beans are now the best tasting coffee in the world.  It is prized for its great taste and smooth texture.  Of course, the coffee beans are thoroughly cleaned, free of cat feces.  LOL!  I have not tasted it yet because it's very expensive!  Like a few grams is more expensive than my Piccolo!  Cat Poop Coffee, you'll just have to wait.  He-he-he!

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