Specialty coffee cafe is a term that generally refers to a food establishment that offers coffee that is prepared in a unique way, with a lot of attention being paid to the origin and blend of coffee beans, roasting process and brewing techniques. Three years ago in Fort Bonifacio, there was only one restaurant that fits this bill, if we exclude coffee chains such as Starbucks, UCC, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Seattle's Best, San Francisco Coffee and Figaro Coffee.
Since then, apart from Kuppa Roastery (at Ecommercenter), several establishments such as Single Origin (at Bonifacio High Street), Toby's Estate (at SM Aura Mall and Ecotower), Luna Specialty Coffee (at NAC Tower and Bonifacio High Street), Coffee Empire (at Venice Mall, McKinley Hill), have entered the field to offer crafted coffee in Fort Bonifacio. One week ago, they are joined by a newcomer, Caravan Black, which is still on soft-opening at Net Park Building on 5th Avenue.
Caravan Black is a cafe owned by a group of friends and one of them, a newly wedded Miguel Rodriguez, also manages the cafe on a day to day basis.
Miguel explained that they named the cafe Caravan Black because they wanted to reference the caravans in the old days that were used to transport coffee beans from its sources to different parts of the world.
When asked why did they decide to enter this highly competitive market segment of coffee shops, Miguel said that they figured that they had found an advantageous location for their business, so they were confident that theirs would have a good chance of success. He was referring to the people working in Net Park and Net Lima, whom he estimated to amount to nearly 20,000 potential customers.
The cafe serves not just specialty coffee, but also, coming soon, comfort food such as pasta and sandwiches. They have engaged the chef of Kettle (in SM Aura) to be their consultant, who has been tasked to create something unique for them.
Indeed, the owners of this cafe have succeeded in creating a unique place in this corner of Fort Bonifacio, at least as far as interior design is concerned. Two paintings displayed in the cafe were commissioned to invoke the feel of two iconic paintings of the 1940s.
The greenish painting was inspired by Nighthawks, a 1942 oil painting by American painter Edward Hopper. Nighthawks was renowned for its depiction of a sense of loneliness in a city diner in 1940s. Wikipedia calls it "one of the most recognizable paintings in American art".
Another iconic oil painting, showing a man in a suit with his face covered by a coffee cup, was inspired by The Son of Man, a 1946 painting by the Belgian surrealistic painter Rene Magritte. The original painting had the man's face covered by an apple.
OK, not everyone going to a coffee shop is looking for art, but definitely, they are not looking for just coffee. Anything that gives a talking point is a plus in a food establishment's arsenal against its competitor. Apart from ambience, location is definitely one of the most important factors to a shop's success.
Let us hope young Miguel has got his numbers right. We will definitely go back when their food menu is ready.