Monday, June 29, 2015

UK's Costa Coffee is here in the Philippines!

Dispel the myth. Londoners do not just drink tea. They love coffee as well.

Last week, I got a chance to experience what UK's #1 coffee is all about as Costa Coffee made us experience it firsthand during their soft launch for bloggers.

The first ever Costa Coffee store is at Eastwood Citywalk 1, near the Activity Center. That's not too far from me. They will be opening up 4 more stores very soon -- Robinsons Ermita, Tera Towers, Bonifacio Global City, and Robinsons Antipolo.

Some of Costa Coffee's executives flew into Manila just for this occasion (yes, they were still jet-lagged but as one of them said humorously, they were in the RIGHT BUSINESS for jet-lagged people, haha!).

My first Costa Coffee -- Flat White! Yum, yum...
I went along with the store manager's recommendation for my very first Costa Coffee experience - their famous Flat White coffee. She also recommended to me Costa's equivalent locally of lemon squares - the Calamansicle (I highly recommend this if you love lemon squares. Expect it to be more filling than the lemon squares because it is highly dense.)

Salted Caramel Chip and Belgian Chocolate Chip cookies, a Flat White Costa Coffee, and the Calamansicle
Know what? I'm glad I tried the Flat White because it was really good! Smooth and rich. No bitter aftertaste. And made at just the right temperature - not as burning hot (on the tongue) as some coffee I've tried and can be sipped and enjoyed as soon as it is served up. The store manager was right when she told me it did not need much sugar (I had 1 instead of my usual 2 brown sugar sachets). One other thing. It did not make me lose sleep that night, something that almost always happens to me when I take coffee in the afternoon.

A little background on Costa

Since most of us are familiar with Starbucks but not with Costa, let me give a brief backgrounder.

Back in 1971, on a cold London afternoon, two brothers (Bruno and Sergio Costa) decided to sell their premium coffee product to local caterers. That soon evolved into them opening up their first cafe.

Since then, Costa has become a leading global coffee shop brand. There are now over 3,000 Costa stores around the world. And now, it has come to Philippine shores.

Here are their different coffee variants.

Meeting a fellow Ilongga - a Costa Coffee manager in Dubai

We were introduced to a very petite and charming Pinay, Wellah Mae Gulmatico, who, we found out during introductions, was the manager of a large Costa Coffee store in Dubai. She was flown in just for this launch. Imagine that! And she was chosen not because she was Filipina. She had to apply for this opportunity together with other baristas from different nationalities. It just so happened she bested them all and she was Pinay!

With Wellah Mae Gulmatico

I was intrigued by her story so I interviewed her a bit more and found out that this lady has a lot of brains as well. She is an electronics communications engineer! And to my delight, she's from Bacolod (Ilongga, like me!). Wellah is indeed one of the shining examples of hardworking Filipinos who are  establishing themselves in positions of responsibility abroad. And imagine, she chose to work with Costa as her first job. She now has a team that includes Filipinos and a Kenyan. Listen to Wellah talk a bit about herself and Costa.

What's Costa Coffee like?

All Costa coffees are handcrafted and espresso-based to give each one that Mocha Italia aroma and body.

Costa employs Master Genarro Peliccia as their official Coffee Master. Wellah told me this trivia - Master Genarro's tongue (yes, his tongue!) was once insured for GBP 10 million (that is 10 million bloody English pounds!). He is now responsible for ensuring that the taste of Costa coffee remains consistent in every Costa cafe. Imagine, every cup of coffee you try was concocted by a master coffee master!

Here's a photo of Master Genarro taken from Wellah's mobile phone.

For a few weeks, a UK store manager, Mark Schofield, will be in town, at Eastwood City, training the Costa Coffee Filipino staff. And, he will be making coffee himself too! Try to catch him when you go there.

This guy is TOWERING!!! Meet Mark Schofield, Costa UK store manager.

According to Wellah, the Eastwood store is smaller than the Dubai store but retains all the markings and ambiance of a typical London coffee shop.

All the "action" is found on the ground floor as people order and claim their coffee and food items here

Enjoy your coffee and food on the second floor where there are more tables, chairs, and a sofa area

Bits of London in the picture frames
Much as I wanted to linger, I was running to another meeting that day. I really have to come back to Costa Eastwood and stay long enough to take in the ambiance as I relax with another cup of Costa Flat White. And take a picture inside the London-style telephone booth.


Find Costa Coffee online here:
Facebook Page:
Twitter: @CostaCoffeePH
Instagram: @CostaCoffeePH

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