Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My belated introduction to Korea's Caffe Bene

Thanks to a colleague who's a diehard Koreanovela fan, I got introduced to Caffe Bene. And who knew there was one just a few steps away from our office?

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The Caffe Bene exterior along the Valero Access Road in Makati City. Love that brick wall and decorative clock!

So the uninitiated in me learned that Caffe Bene is a Korean chain of cafes, the leading one so to speak. We tried the one along the Valero Access Road one afternoon, which is located rather inconspicuously at the ground floor of the Multinational Bankcorp Center right next to LKG Tower. Much like myself, I don't think many people know that such a cafe existed in the area.

Design and ambiance
The cafe sports a warm and cozy design, with a few touches of cute thrown around. Complementing the bare concrete flooring and brick accent walls are the wooden ceiling and furniture all bathed by warm light. And apart from a few books, you'll also see lots of cutesy stuff on the bookshelves.

The counter is typical coffee shop: chalkboard-style menus, glass chiller containing pastries, and shelves housing mugs and tumblers for sale, except they have gelato here. Outside is an alfresco area bookended by brick walls while a huge, looming decorative clock watches over.

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The counter.

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More than books, the shelves are filled with lots of cute decorative pieces and figurines. And oh, did you notice the empty tables?

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Yummy-looking pastries meant to entice customers. These are just wax representations only, though.

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If you don't fancy coffee or pastries, you just might care for some gelato.

I don't know if people just haven't heard of the place yet or what but there weren't a lot of customers around. Even when I brought My Bibe for breakfast here a few days later, it remained a fairly quiet place. Personally, though, I like it this way although I know it's bad for business in the long run.

The coffee and food
I ordered a Vanilla Latte (Php130 regular, Php145 large) and found it lacking in coffee flavor. But an extra shot of espresso can easily fix that, just like I did on my second try.

A sucker for breads, the first thing I tried was one of those really thick slices of Honey Bread, Garlic & Cheese (Php165) to be exact. The bread was good and dense with a sweet base. I just wished there was more of that cheese spread since I found its ratio to the volume of the bread too little. The taste of garlic was also very evident, but which may be a bit too potent for some. I recommend sharing this with someone, though, because I found the serving size a tad too much for one person.

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My vanilla latte and garlic & cheese honey bread in a takeout box.

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Apart from size, notice the bread's density. There's also this pleasantly sweet base.

On my next visit we tried their Choco Banana Honey Bread (Php155). It's the same thick and dense bread but topped with banana slices, almond, walnuts, whipped cream, and chocolate bits. It looks really mean but surprisingly, it's not too sweet. Everything's well-balanced, except that I still find the ratio of the toppings to the bread quite disproportionate.

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The mean-looking choco banana honey bread that's surprisingly not too sweet.

I also had a Liege Waffle with blueberry cream cheese topping (Php165). The waffle looks small but it's dense and tasty. And unlike the honey bread, the ratio of toppings to the waffle is perfect.

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Leige waffle with blueberry cream cheese. Yum!

Price-wise, Caffe Bene is just about at par with other coffee shops. You can also check out the full Caffe Bene menu for the complete range of offerings and their prices.

Service
The staff here and nice and friendly. Maybe it's the learning curve or just the detail-oriented nature of their pastries but they're not as snappy with preparing your orders. And that's considering they're not even swamped yet. Hopefully they'll get around.

But oh, I just have to say that their takeout box for their honey bread is so cute. It's like opening a box to reveal a delightful surprise.

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Like carrying munchkins. I like the light blue color, by the way.

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Surprise!

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In hindsight
They may not have the best coffee but Caffe Bene is sure to delight with its pastries and other baked goodies, although I still have a lot to try and my opinion about their coffee might still change. It also offers a nice, cozy, and quiet (at least for now) place for breakfast or snacks, or simply for some alone time to escape all the madness at work. Sure they need to improve on speed of service but hopefully that will improve.

That said, I'd come back here anytime.

caffebene.com.ph

4 comments:

  1. beautiful pics!!
    i'm new follower your blog!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. i always made sure to stop by caffe bene branch in icheon airport every time i go back home. i love their honey bread.

    ReplyDelete

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