Kitchen & Pantry

Batangas barako coffee

When I was taking the photos of the coffee percolater earlier this evening, my intention was to post an entry about the percolator itself. I’ve had it for 10 years–bought it in Unimart for something like PhP700.00 and, except for the discoloration (naturally), it’s just as good as it was the day I bought it.

But then I remembered that I was brewing Batangas barako and the issues surrounding its extinction has got to be more important than a 10-year-old coffee percolator. So I am posting the photos here instead of under the In my kitchen category of Home Cooking Rocks! together with some information about barako coffee.

casaveneracion.com Batangas barako coffee

We haven’t brewed coffee in the house for years. Looking back, I can attribute that to two things. First, with only my husband and I drinking coffee, brewing to make two cups just seemed too much work. Second, we had been disappointed far too often with supermaket-bought ground coffee–especially those that came in pre-sealed and pre-weighed bags. I never quite understood why they’re called coffee, to begin with. Too bland, no body, even the aroma seemed lacking. Without quite verbalizing our reasons, we shifted to instant coffee and had been trying one brand after another to find, I suppose, that perfect taste. I guess we never really did and that is why we are now back with freshly brewed coffee.

Of course, my husband’s frequent business trips south of Manila has a lot to do with it too. We now have regular access to freshly-ground real Batangas barako coffee. And we’re loving it.

What exactly is “barako”?

While the Barako has become a generic name for all coffee from Batangas, real Barako refers to Philippine Liberica and is known for its particularly strong taste, powerful body and distinctly pungent odor…

Of the four identified species of coffee (Robusta, Excelsa, Arabica and Liberica), Liberica has the largest cherries and therefore, bigger beans. [Save the Barako]

The introduction of imported coffee beans and the proliferation of American coffee shop chains have contributed to the decline of the production of barako. Because demand has gone down, more and more farmers opt to plant their lands to other crops. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that barako is so far superior to, say, Colombian coffee that we should choose to drink nothing but barako. I’m a fan of Colombian coffee. And Turkish coffee too. But barako has a distinct flavor, aroma and body that makes it unique. To compare it with Colombian or Turkish coffee is like comparing the looks of Pierce Brosnan with Brad Pitt. Both are good-looking–but different in many ways which does not make one inferior than the other.

As I sit here composing this entry, I am reminded of the times when my father took me to Batangas, often on a whim, just to buy freshly ground barako. He was a barako loyalist. Nothing satisfied his craving for coffee except barako. And he was wary of buying ground barako in city stores. He often warned me that many shops passed off as pure barako what were actually ground coffee beans mixed with something else and that was why they never tasted nor smelled right. Well, considering how many mistakes my husband and I have made with supermarket-bought ground barako, I can’t say that my father was mistaken.

But… enough said. I think I’ll have another cup of brewed Batangas barako coffee before I resume my blogging.

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