An addition to the Korean craze just hit Manila. Last November 29 Caffe Bene, the biggest coffee chain in the land of Korean dramas held its grand opening in Eastwood City Walk 2. From Seoul Caffe Bene has finally arrived in the Philippines, Yey!
A lil bit of facts: Caffe Bene was established in April 2008 and now they have more than 800 stores all over Korea (beating the giant Starbucks). It became a Korean sensation due to its key product offerings of: excellent medium roast coffee; their signature freshly made Liege waffles which are richer, denser, sweeter and chewier than traditional waffles; and authentic Italian gelatos that’s good on its own or better enjoyed if paired with coffee or waffles. Aren’t those sounding mouth-watering already? Here’s a peek.
For Korean drama addicts, you may probably recognize it as the coffee shop of that infamous coffee “Crème Kiss” from the hit Secret Garden. Yes, that super kilig romantic act of Hyun Bin kissing the cappuccino foam off Ha Ji Won’s lip was shot inside a Caffe Bene shop.
On with the event proper, the grand opening program kicked-off with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Mr. Desmond Chua, President of Caffe Bene Philippines (leftmost in the picture below) and Ms. Diane Chua, Head of Operations (2nd from left). The grand opening program was hosted by Korean expat and now a local Philippine personality, Sam Oh.
It was followed by a dedication and prayer by a pastor family friend of the Chuas.
The welcome speech by Mr. Desmond Chua came next and was full of emotions telling their journey towards opening of this Korean coffee chain in the Philippines. Quoting some of his words “in this market full of established names we will strive and hope to make a niche”. A loud applause logically came after a nice speech.
A toast followed and that gave us a first taste of their signature medium-roast coffee which is less bitter than other brands. You have to try it for yourself and as for me who prefers a decaf version of coffee most of the time this one is worth it. The less bitter taste makes a difference and just provides light acidity in the tummy. I love it.
As this new hang-out place was born and added to the huge Korean craze in Manila, I am dearly privileged as a certified K-addict to be invited to its grand opening. The fruits of blogging led me to be part of this event (see my earlier post about Caffe Bene). Dubbed as “my very first full event cover” of a Korean invasion and so that explains how my heart is smiling and hyperacidity attacks again in excitement on the day, hahaha.
And my dress did blend well with Caffe Bene earth and woody colors, wink, wink!
To complete the program the Director of Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, Mr. Seong Un Hwang also made his presence with a speech gearing towards a continuous good connection of Korea and the Philippines and welcoming the birth of Caffe Bene in our country.
As we witness Caffe Bene being launched sumptuous cocktails are served to us guests. I have barely eaten before the event (in excitement) so it’s like a feast. The iced tea given to each table is a luscious unique blend that tastes more of a mango juice to me and I think I had three glasses of it. Apparently it was a Caffe Bene blend. 🙂
Family and friends of the Chua’s were present and it was well attended too by famous media personalities such as Tim Yap, Claudine Trillo and Franco Mabanta among others.
The cocktails part is just an appetizer. The most fun part of the event is that the guests (and that includes me) were given the first taste of Caffe Bene’s famous coffees, gelatos and Liege waffles while enjoying the caffe concert of the Philippines’ only electronic rock band, Turbo Goth. It’s a cozy party time! Thrilled for the food tasting? Details in the next few paragraphs. 🙂
Let me take you now to some behind the scenes part. Before the program started I was given a tour of the shop including its menu by no less than Mr. Derrick Chua, Head of Marketing of Caffe Bene Philippines.
I can’t help but wear a big smile as I stepped inside. It really has this cozy feel looking at its spacious woody designs.
The two-floor coffee shop boasts a vintage Europen design with cute Korean accents. Feels like I’m in a Korean drama setting, hahaha. It has this unique 2nd floor that features a free library for those who wants to study, have alone time and relax or just hang-out with friends over a great coffee. If I’m not mistaken this part is called “book-caffe”. Just a tip: bring your favorite jacket or cardigan with you here as it is a bit cold ala-autumn or pre-winter feel in Seoul . 🙂
And now let me share you the most exciting part, the menu. I’m on a high here guys. It’s a VIP mode-like feeling as I take my first look at the counter. It’s not that pricey as I initially thought of. Their coffee is at around 100-150 bucks just like the established names in the coffee shop market. As I have mentioned their signature medium-roast blend makes a difference because it’s less bitter and leaves no much after-effect in the tummy for acidic person like me.
They have this specialty grain-based latte called “Misugaru” which is a healthier alternative to their espresso-based drinks. As told by Mr. Derrick Chua this has became a favorite and bestseller at their New York City branch. I have tried the hot version and it tastes goody healthy. After all it is packed with fiber and anti-oxidants.
More on their signature favorites. Their freshly made Liege waffle is a must try. You can have it plain or with gelato and various toppings. I like the Blue Berry Cream Cheese, more than the best-seller Red Bean and Green Tea. Other choices are Honey Nut, Strawberry Cream and Caramel Banana Cream. Price ranges from 135-165 pesos for those with toppings, not bad to try and taste the difference.
Speaking of gelato, another favorite is their authentic Italian Gelatos that feels light but full of flavor (available in around 10 varieties). Bestsellers are the chocolate and cream cheese though I keep coming back for the strawberry. 🙂
And the last (but not the least) that I got to taste is the new to my ears “Bingsu”. It’s a Korean Ice Parfait or simply Korean “halo-halo” in our native language. This so far is the most priced in their menu starting at 165 pesos. Its available in Large and the Huge size that’s meant for sharing. I ordered the Huge one and its literally HUGE, hahaha. This time I love the Red Bean flavor though I haven’t tried the Coffee and Strawberry.
After this I’m really so happily stuffed. All those are for free-tasting at least before they opened to public at around 9pm. The only thing I paid for is the Bingsu but I used the GCs that they gave to me earlier so technically its free, paying only around 30 bucks. It’s really fun at this Caffe Bene grand opening right? 🙂 By the way they still have a lot of other offerings like Signature Mocktails, Honey Bread, Yogurt smoothies, teas and cakes..can’t taste them all at the same time hahaha.
Ok, it’s time for the blogger mode to be switched off. Fangirl mode on! You really thought I forgot this part? Of course, not! In fact I tag along a fellow fangirl friend as my companion for this event. And most of the pictures I credit to her, thanks super Digi Arlene. So aside from Caffe Bene being a Korean coffee shop what really made me aware of them is the fact that the Korean star and Asia Prince Jang Keun Suk is their current ambassador. I am a super fan of him since the 2009 hit k-drama You’re Beautiful days where he played the main role Taekyung.
My friends from Eels Philippines (a Jang Keun Suk fan club) swarmed the shop as long as it was opened to public. We may be a bit disappointed that no single poster or tarp of Jang Keun Suk appeared in the shop but we are still there to support nevertheless. JKS is still there for us, and literally he is there as we never fail to bring a picture of him along. See evidences below. 🙂
We have endlessly asked every barista and even Mr. Desmond and Derrick Chua when would the JKS items be available. We are kinda “makulit” already but they gladly answered our queries and told us that they are very much aware of the fans’ countless request for those mugs and other souvenir JKS items. They are still discussing it among themselves and coordinating with Korea on this matter as of my latest knowing. So for the mean time let us just wait, patience is a virtue. 🙂 Anyway some Caffe Bene cups and tumblers are now available on sale.
And last but not the least I wouldn’t miss the chance to pose along-side with the media personalites present and the people behind Caffe Bene Philippines.
The event launch was really a successful one, Congrats to Caffe Bene. I went home not just with a box of freebies but an experience. Thanks again for the invite.
I have tasted the Bene Difference and now it’s time for you to try it for yourselves. Korean fanatics and coffee-lovers come and visit them at the G/F of Eastwood Citywalk 2. Store hours are from 7am-1am Mon-Th, 7am-3:30am during Fri-Sat and at 10am-1am on Sundays. Free wifi access is available. After this grand opening night I have visited the shop for a couple of times more and they have pretty much a lot of customers already, both Korean and Filipino. Good luck Caffe Bene and again Kamsahamnida! 🙂