We like coffee not only for the taste, but also for the smell. The fresher the beans, the stronger the smell of carmelized coffee beans.
There are specialty coffee shops in the Philippines that roast coffee beans on site, but this newly opened specialty coffee shop at One Bonifacio High Street mall, Malongo, is the first that roast beans on request.
There are about 10 varieties of coffee green beans for customers to choose, each 250g costs from P2990 to over P11,000 for the Blue Mountain variety. That is much more expensive than buying a bag of roasted beans from the shelf, but you can be sure that the coffee beans are freshly roasted, and thus have the highest intensity of flavor possible for those beans.
The cafe has a limited food menu. As Malongo is a French restaurant, its food is mostly crepes.
The quality of its crepe ranks third on our list of creperies in Metro Manila, after Cafe Breton and La Creperie.
We were curious as to how the coffee roaster works, and decided to try it. We chose an African bean, Ethiopian Sidamo, and asked for the roasting service.
At first, there was some technical problems in operating the roasting. After about 20 minutes, the staff managed to get the roaster to work, and from there, everything was automated and roasting was done within 15 minutes. You can see the whole process in the video below.
The roasting machine used was quite incredible. It managed to evenly roast the beans despite its small batch size and at the first roast. Conventional coffee roasters usually need to go through at least one roast to get the temperature to spread evenly within the roasting chamber.
[updated Jan 5, 2019] We made the coffee two days after roasting, since coffee beans taste best on the day after roasting, as the oil has time to seep out after the air inside is pushed out after roasting. Using our own coffee grinder and a home coffee filter, we made our first cups of Malongo freshly roasted coffee. The shop put beans in a plastic bag with a one way valve to let gas out, and we could smell the intense coffee fragrance from the valve. When we poured water on the grinded beans, the freshness of the beans could be seen as there were a lot of air bubbles.
We added milk but no sugar to the coffee. The coffee had a mild flavor that is earthy and mellow, and low acidity. The flavor may be due more to the beans than the roasting. We rate it 3.5 out of 5, but coffee tasting is really a personal thing, as people have different taste preference.
But since the cost of the freshness is 5 times that of the same variety of beans available off the shelf, it is likely that we favor the options of buying quality beans from stores, or even roasting our own beans at home, more than getting the beans from this expensive machine. Nonetheless, it was a unique experience, and the cafe is conveniently located for those of us who live or work on the western part of BGC.
Malongo is located at the ground floor of One Bonifacio High Street mall, with an entrance that faces the Mind Museum. It opens from 7am to 10am Monday to Thursday, and 7am to 11pm Friday to Sunday.