Dear, coffee-lover turned tea-lover - me. To everybody, in general.
For those of you who, like me, can no longer handle excessive coffee, it's not the end of the world. In late 2022, I discovered that I could no longer digest certain enzymes found in coffee. This led to a drastic increase in my body's acidity levels, resulting in either eczema breakouts or diarrhea. To say that this revelation was disheartening is a gross understatement.
Back in 2013, when the third-wave coffee movement first hit Manila, my friend and I often debated whether we preferred the coffee or the café culture best. The answer varied, and at most times, I leaned towards coffee. This was because I believed my taste buds were more refined than average; I once aced a blind cupping session, identifying origin, varietal, and processing - blind. However, that was a long time ago. Deep down, I knew that I cherished the café culture more than the coffee itself, possibly because I sensed that I would ominously have to bid farewell to coffee?
In hindsight, I realized that my passion for the culture, the ability to witness the emergence of new cafes, was what truly energized me. It's through this crafty revolution that I aspire to develop new non-coffee alternatives for Jacob's Well Chai to stay relevant to both the original and the new generation cafes.
As a self-proclaimed hipster and a guardian of my preferred things, I recognized that I had to eventually facilitate new generation chai makers and cherish their successes to the rest of the world, not that I invented it. However, I was hoping that this shift in attitude in artisans and makers would prevent newer and more loaded brands from merely jumping on the bandwagon. Imagine a *bleep* chai concentrate (just fill in the blanks). I knew that time would come sooner or later.
Before that time arrives, I want to put these thoughts into writing, perhaps for my future self, but more importantly for those who wish to create their own artisanal chai. Go for it! I'd be more than happy to support you. Let's unite to serve artisanal chai, a product deeply connected to our unique flavor style (might not necessarily Indian but more Pinoy if possible), and definitely something with a story.
I look forward to visiting cafes from the future and asking about the story behind their chai. I hope to hear less of "it's just something we bought somewhere." There's really nothing wrong about that in itself. But i know that i'd quietly and unintentionally file that cafe as that cafe in my head. And that's just me, not saying i'm right. If only i can encourage you to know more about the brands you may or may not be proudly serving. While not all brands have a unique story, those that do often have a more meaningful and mindful narrative than you can imagine. It's not just concentrated to chai, maybe it's a turmeric concentrate or who knows what. And i think that'd be a nice future for artisans.
Then again, maybe I'm already an old man, as I mostly sip teas now. But with the knowledge I have today, third-wave coffee, personally, is more about the café culture. Most of the time, these are coffee shops with intriguing stories. The days when people would criticize your lack of "specialty" due to not using a Synesso Espresso machine are long gone!
Long live coffee, the coffee enthusiast, and the café culture! For the new generation of cafe builders: my final and only request is please serve chai when you can, or at least tea (but please, not them fannings), so I have something to look forward to when visiting cafes.
P.S. Not bad mouthing anything, or anyone. Not a fan of putting down one in order to lift the other. And, photo taken during my last cafe crawl in 2019 - Apartment Coffee.