Awaken Your Senses Through Starbucks Philippine's Coffee College

Written by Dr. Elaine Maceda Fernandez for

WHAAAAAT?... What an unlikely combo right?  That’s what I would’ve thought so too, until I attended Starbucks’ Coffee College. 

First off, you’re probably wondering who I am. I’m Myke’s long-lost sister… Not! Haha He’s an only child, but I could’ve passed for one because that’s what everyone at the event thought so. LOL! I’m Myke’s friend and rep for this particular event. This would be my first ever blogging event attended. Myke did inform me that Starbucks would introduce coffee in a different light. I was so eager because this event had two of my favorite things in the world--- COFFEE and FOOD! I immediately agreed when he asked me if I could cover for him. And boy, was I in for a treat! 

Starbucks Philippines led select media partners and top My Starbucks Rewards® customers on an unparalleled coffee journey, to showcase Starbucks heritage as the leading purveyor and roaster of the best Arabica coffee in the world. These, coupled with the passion of Starbucks partners (employees) around the world, are the key factors that have differentiated the brand over the past four decades.

As I registered for the event, I was pleasantly welcomed with goodies and inviting smiles. Both truly appreciated. I was a newbie amongst a pool of professional bloggers and Coffee Masters. I kept my cool but deep down inside my dear heart was jumping with excitement. As I sat down, I was greeted with an interesting platter—roasted peanuts, grapefruit, and a slice of Shitake mushroom… What a weird combo, I thought. I almost ate the peanuts thinking they were appetizers, but I looked around and noticed that no one was eating them… So that’s an abrupt halt on the “appetizers” then. HAHA As the event was about to start, a familiar and beautiful face approached me. Thank God for arina (@digitalfilipina)! I felt a little bit more comfortable having her beside me as we went on with the event. So I hope you’d learn a thing or two like I did as I attended Starbucks Philippines’ Coffee College. 

*Disclaimer: As I’ve mentioned, this is my first blog, so please excuse my substandard photos and trivial but otherwise considerable write-up. ;)
Starbucks’ Coffee College participants excited with the event.
One by one the Coffee Masters were introduced and each had some new info to share with the audience. We learned about the interesting four-decade history of coffee, their origin and the different processes involved in making a cup of glorious coffee. Ever wondered what happened to the “appetizers?” Well, according to one of the Coffee Masters, the diverse flavors (and aroma) of coffee are influenced by soil, geographic microclimate, altitude, and production techniques. Starbucks sources coffee from Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific regions. Different regions produce coffees with distinctive aroma, acidity, flavor and body, which will be unique and complementary to different savory dishes and sweet treats. 

These are some of the Starbucks Single Origin Coffee that showcase particular flavors unique to the coffee’s birthplace: 

· Relatively full-bodied, with juicy acidity coffees from Kenya are extraordinary and enticing, with floral aromas and flavors of berries and citrus and pair well with grapefruit, oranges, fruit scones and raisins. 
· Medium-bodied with medium acidity coffees, such as Guatemala Antigua, tend to be clean, Familiar and friendly, with flavors reminiscent of nuts or cocoa and pair well with custard, caramel and semi-sweet chocolate, muffin, curry, lemongrass, eggs with toast and potatoes. 
· Sumatra tends to be bold and assertive, full-bodied with earthy and herbal flavors. This pairs well with cheese, oatmeal, mushroom, roast meat and hash browns. 

And so we finally tried each of the 3 appetizers paired with the corresponding coffee flavors- the roasted peanuts with Colombia, the grapefruit with Kenya, and shitake mushroom for Sumatra. It was quite interesting because as I tasted them one by one, I realized that they did have a distinct taste and aroma that complemented each appetizer and more so the flavors were somewhat enhanced as you drank- nay- SLURPED (I learned that this was the proper way to drink coffee to fully appreciate the taste, odd but certainly effective. Try it!) the coffee. Fascinating, isn’t it?

It was tough to pick a favorite, but I found Kenya to be the most interesting amongst the three. I like the fruity kick it had to it. :)

So here’s the supposedly platter of appetizers! Haha (L-R roasted peanuts, grapefruit, and shitake mushroom) 


Being that coffee has been a staple to complete one’s typical breakfast or meal, it might sound strange for most Filipinos to have it paired with savory dishes other than your regular hot pandesal or favorite dessert. The unique nuances of coffee bring out the flavors in savory dishes as well – very much like wine. When paired with different types of food, the flavors dispersed by each coffee can enhance every bite, elevating the culinary experience with memorable taste sensations. We were treated to a 4-course Neo-Filipino cuisine coffee and food pairing lunch conceptualized by Celine Lichauco, Starbucks Philippines, senior category specialist for food and Matt Sanvictores, Starbucks Philippines, senior learning specialist.

The lunch menu featured Filipino dishes with a twist that was delightfully paired with the different coffees of Starbucks. The exciting line-up of dishes started off with the Grilled Shrimp Salad paired with Starbucks Reserve® Ethiopia Guji Bilida Bukisa Clover Brewed Iced Coffee. It was then followed with a Seafood and Eggplant Cocido paired with Starbucks Tribute® Blend Pressed Coffee, which is distinct for its spicy and full-bodied flavor with berry and dark cherry notes.

The entrée featured a Filipino classic dish with a twist, Adobo sa Balsamic with a trio of chicken, pork and beef adobo, this was also paired with the Starbucks Tribute® Blend Pressed Coffee. The lunch ended with an interesting take on dessert. Turon sa Halo-Halo was served together with a scoop of Mantecado ice cream. We were then given a stick of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Colombia to sprinkle on top of their Mantecado ice cream. Feast your eyes with the outstanding lunch we all relished. (Thank you, Lord.)

I saw that everyone was fully satisfied with the exquisite menu prepared for us. Everything was just divine. The crowd pleasers were the entrée and of course the dessert. But my (surprisingly) absolute favorite was the shrimp salad paired the Ethiopia Guji. It had such a refreshing flavor to it that left me asking for seconds. Dessert came in second. Hmm, I take that back. The dessert also made me request for another plate, but that was already EXPECTED as I am known for having a sweet tooth.

The coffee immersion also included an introduction on the different brewing methods that one can do at home which are the Pour-Over and the classic Coffee Press. The pour-over brewing method is a beautifully simple and accessible way to brew a single cup of coffee with clean, fully developed flavor and body while a coffee press retains the precious natural oils that paper filters absorb, and extracts the coffee’s full flavor while giving it a consistency that’s thick and rich. 

One of the coffee masters demonstrated how the pour-over brewing method was properly done, while a number of lucky volunteers from the participants tried out the other process which made use of a coffee press instead. I’ve always loved coffee however I found it tedious to brew every morning for just one small cup. So I appreciated the fact that you can actually make a lot of coffee with one go, set it aside and save some for the following day. I didn’t deem it possible and it was a relief to find out that it was indeed achievable. The important detail is that you should know the appropriate coffee to water ratio. Now I know how to do it and that saves me from my daily (over) dose of instant 3-in-1 coffee! (Know that as I am composing this article, I am also enjoying my first homemade pressed coffee)

The educational coffee journey ended with an exceptional latte art demonstration by 2015 Starbucks Philippines Coffee Ambassador Pao Legaspi. 

Here’s Coffee Ambassador Pao and our latte masterpieces.

I opened the bag that Starbucks gave us for favors and found a treasure- my very own Starbucks apron!!!! Shut the front door!!! How cool is it that I get to wear the famous Starbucks apron while making a cup of coffee for someone? I was ecstatic… Warning, big smiles imminent! I had difficulty containing my excitement when Karina and I had a chance to participate and try out latte art- with the guidance of Coffee Ambassador Pao. I purely enjoyed making my first cup of ‘free-hand’ latte art masterpiece.

Well, it did pale in comparison with Pao’s creations, but the experience was just priceless!!! I squealed with glee as I created my first heart on Karina’s café mocha. Imagine me with a big smile as I called out, “One tall Café Mocha for Karina!”  WEEEE!!! Barista for a day… check!

As the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee, Starbucks has always been defined by their ability to showcase their coffee passion, consistently serving each of us the best cup of coffee every time for the ultimate Starbucks Experience. 

To sum it up, I was educated and cultured about the wonders of coffee- its rich history of coffee, various types and flavors, the proper way of drinking it (slurp not sip), different processes it goes through, and simple ways of making it. This was an equally learning experience as it was enjoyable treat. I never thought that coffee could be so diverse! I was surprised at how little I knew about our favorite caffeine fix. I certainly wasn’t aware that it could be paired with different chows other than my regular pandesal or chosen dessert. I believe most people, including myself, stereotyped and underestimated our treasured beverage. This ends the era of stereotyping coffee. I’m more knowledgeable now of the endless possibilities that one can do and have with coffee. All in all, this was a splendid experience that has truthfully awakened my senses. 

I’d like to thank Starbucks Philippines and their wonderful staff for having such an interactive event wherein we all learned and experienced coffee like never before. Shout out to Karina for being my coffee buddy. And much love and thanks to Myke for letting me in on this experience- it’s definitely a memorable and meaningful blogging debut. Thank you, Mr. Soon. :)

My unofficial grad pic- the self-proclaimed coffee jock! haha
And as with any yearbook, you’ll spot an embarrassing photo/s. So here is my take on “I make this look good” look with the Starbucks apron. EPIC FAIL.

With some of the brilliant people of Starbucks

The ultimate loot bag and my certificate from Starbucks. Woot! :)

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