September 1, 2018 – I was invited to an event called #coffeeandblades Quiz Night wherein a couple of knives and coffee enthusiasts get together, challenge themselves with the knowledge about their crafts and have a good time.
The quiz night was held at MA+D Manila Café’s 2nd branch located at Bahay sa Don Antonio, 26 Holy Spirit Drive QC and was led by couple Patrick and Miko Tria Tetangco of Pinoy Prepper Bazaar, an organization that aims to spread awareness, knowledge and spark interest in survival and disaster preparedness. Disclaimer though, I had zero idea about knives but I must say, I enjoyed listening and observing their quiz night. Imagine, being in a room with the cast of Big Bang Theory and instead of talking about Physics, they’re talking about knives. I can so fill in the shoes of Penny that night; at first I didn’t have any slightest clue about the technicalities of a single blade, but then as minutes passed I realized ‘Damn, these people really know their stuff!’ and I just can’t help but admire them for it. It’s funny to hear them talk about their grossest memories with their blades (trust ne, you wouldn’t wanna know 😂) and fascinating to see how their eyes lit up whenever they share stories about the things they’re most passionate about.
Aside from knives, they’re also passionate about coffee. We all know that coffee awakens all senses; and by climbing up the staircase to the MA+D Manila Café, your olfactory facets would not only be seduced by the rich aroma of fresh ground grains, but the space also feeds your sight with the stunning mural paintings on the walls by Arti Vista Gallery, leaving you captivated and inspired. Being an artist myself, it’s like heaven for me to see unique art pieces being showcased in their true light. At the bar is where I met Xian Pitargue, the co-founder of MA+D Manila and barista, a man with a kind smile and knowing eyes as if telling me, “Open-minded ka ba? Tara, kape tayo.”
MA+D Manila – Make, Advocate and Delight, is still on the high from the opening of their 2nd branch. Their first branch at 118 Matahimik Street, Teacher’s Village is being managed by Xian’s partner Abbi Cabanding. If drinking coffee for you is not just a morning ritual but a way of life, then MA+D Manila is the place you need to go. Starting as passionate coffee-lovers, Xian and Abbi took the long way from just traveling and experiencing coffee for themselves to helping Filipinos have a high quality experience every time they pick up a cup of coffee. With years of expertise, Xian showcases the different methods in coffee-making by using quality coffee makers, grinders and gadgets (which I never knew existed hahaha). After seeing him create my cup of coffee, I could never look at my ordinary coffee maker at home the same way again.
Chatting with Xian that night made me rethink my outlook in coffee consumption in our country. “Even though we are a coffee producing country, we don’t have coffee culture. Our coffee culture is instant, 3-in-1, because coffee (here) is still treated as mundane.” Says Xian. But why do Filipinos go for instant? Don’t we have enough time to spare, a 5-minute max of our morning to prepare coffee? We go for instant coffee simply because almost everyone whose first experience of brewed coffee is bad. Mapait, maasim, mapakla, and so on. But we forget that coffee is in nature, the same art as wine and beer. “All coffee beans are not the same. Each and every coffee is particular and has its own uniqueness, depending on its soil, innovation, and methods.” Xian adds, “We wanted to showcase that each coffee experience is unique; there’s no such thing as best coffee because it’s preferential, subjective, and depends on the mood.”
“Not everyone can have the leisure of travel just to taste coffee, but here at MA+D Manila we can bring the local coffee experience to you.” – Xian Pitargue
Xian and Abbi’s fascination with the local coffee started with traveling around Philippines and truly experiencing the diversity of cultures from North to South through coffee. But whenever they go to different restaurants and asks for a cup of coffee, the locals would give them instant coffee instead, the infamous 3-in-1. And this has been happening to mostly every person who travels around the country. So they started asking around where can they can taste and experience the “true local coffee”, and they were pointed to the coffee farms up in the mountains, hidden and sometimes never been heard about. And the sad reality is that, the farmers don’t sell their coffee grounds downtown because nobody buys them, except foreign travelers.
Our country was once the 4th largest coffee producers in the world, but now the Philippines is ranked 117th and declining day by day. It has been MA+D Manila’s objective to reverse the country’s coffee situation by finding Filipinos their cup based on their preferences and empowering coffee farmers to be confident in pursuing their trade. MA+D Manila is not just a humble coffee shop, it serves as a haven for coffee lovers, farmers, and artists who needed platforms to express their freedom of Espresso. Their mantra being : Fight for a decent cup. “The coffee by MA+D Manila are from the different provinces of the Philippines.” Xian shares, “Each grain gives you a taste of these provinces’ cultures and ways of living. Not everyone can have the leisure of travel just to taste coffee, but here at MA+D Manila we can bring the local coffee experience to you.”
Coffee has become a stronghold in our global culture for so many generations now. It connects people from the same ethnicity as easily as those who are having their first date over a cup of coffee. Xian and Abbi, the two creative and coffee advocates, teach us a lot about the core of our culture and values thru Filipino-made coffee – how to create real and genuine experiences, introduce something valuable to their customers and imbue an emotional connection to their cup of coffee. I have nothing but support and high hopes for their advocacy, which can inspire our nation to grow back to our roots, one sip at a time.
Check out Pinoy Prepper Bazaar Facebook page and be updated on their upcoming events, lectures and bazaars happening.
Special Thanks to Xian Pitargue, Ms. Miko Tetangco and Jann Leyba for lending their time and wisdom that night.
Visit MA+D Manila at their branches : 118 Matahimik Street (Teacher’s Village) and 26 Holy Spirit Drive (Don Antonio). You may also follow them on their IG account @themadmanila.