A lot of us drink 3-in-1s in the morning that we forget that coffee has a lot of nuances and flavors. Like a person, each blend is different, shaped by different circumstances to bring a unique flavor. There are drinks that are strong, while there are drinks that are more subtle, the kind that you get to know after a second or third date. I was able to learn more about the intricacies of coffee through Starbucks Philippines’ Coffee College.
The Starbucks Philippines’ Coffee College was a four-course coffee and food pairing lunch conceptualized by Celine Lichauco, assistant manager for food; Third Villaflor, senior learning specialist; and Chef Booj Supe of Gourmet Garage. Yes, like wine, coffee can also be paired with savory dishes to elevate its flavor profiles.
It was an incredible lunch because I never imagined drinking coffee over lunch. The Coffee College introduced me to the wonders of arabica during mealtime and I was very impressed. It helped that I was seated next to and across Lichauco and Villaflor, so I was able to learn a lot. I walked away with a “diploma” (more like a certificate of attendance), but I felt like a coffee connoisseur after enjoying lunch with the two.
The meal started with a Petite Mesclun and Raspberry Salad, which was paired with a cup of Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee. The balanced and smooth flavor of the coffee made it a versatile cup, which became more refreshing paired with the salad’s citrus notes.
For our entree, we had the Sous Vide Angus Beef with Almond Gouda Crumbs, paired with the Starbucks Kati-Kati Blend brewed using a classic coffee press. I felt proud for preparing the coffee for the whole table, but what impressed me the most was the dish: the beef lay on top of a dark chocolate demi-glace, an unusual combination that I still think about to this day.
This was followed by the Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Lime Beurre Blanc, paired with the Starbucks Reserve Rwanda Musasa. Here, the coffee was prepared twice, one using the Pour-Over Cone brew and the other using the Chemex. I found it incredibly fascinating how different brewing methods produce different flavors even if you’re just using one type of bean. When brewed using the Pour-Over, the coffee was bright and citrusy, which paired well with the buttered cauliflower and lime beurre blanc (white butter). Meanwhile, the Chemex produced a bolder and smokier flavor, which matched the grilled chicken.
I love desserts so I was curious as to what Lichauco and the team prepared for everyone. They prepared a Starbucks VIA Italian Roast Topped with Vanilla Ice Cream. We were also given a sachet of Starbucks VIA Matcha to drizzle over the ice cream. Two things: instead of serving a cup of coffee with the ice cream, they served it in the dessert. And they combined it with matcha. No photo because I wolfed it down the second it was served!
After our gustatory journey through the different planes and valleys of flavors, sensations, and coffee, we ended lunch with a mini-graduation, where we were given our “diplomas.” If this writing thing doesn’t work out, my future is secured as a barista. I’m kind of looking forward to it!