Barako, now brewing

THERE are two things that come to mind when one says Civet coffee. One is that it’s exotic, the other is that it’s expensive. This drink has long fascinated many people, mainly because of its distinctive taste and partly because of how it’s made—that is, involving a cat’s digestive system. While that much is true, Civet coffee being “expensive” is not necessarily so, insists Barako Haus’ founder Chris Gonzaga.

Named after the country’s famed coffee variant, Barako Haus serves a one-of-a-kind Civet drink—one that’s made from barako (liberica) beans as opposed to the usual arabica variant, and at a relatively lower price than at many other establishments. Some have even gone far to doubt the authenticity of their Civet brew because of its price, yet as what Chris and Barako Haus’ Cebu franchisee Dianne Rasalan said, the goal of their coffee house is to make homegrown beans—Civet included—available and affordable for all.

“I was inspired to pursue an educational one-stop coffee shop concept due to our rich heritage. We need to educate, inform and reveal to local and foreign coffee lovers that the rarest Civet coffee is found here (in the Philippines), which is rarer than the usual Civet arabica,” Chris said, also pointing out that the country has one of the richest coffee-drinking cultures in the world.

Barako Haus sources its beans from plantations in Mt. Malarayat, Mt. Pulag and Mt. Matutum. With it they have created espressos and hot brews, and some tasty ice-blended concoctions like the Tsoko Crispies that’s topped with rice crispies and the Sunflower Frapepino that as the name suggests, is actually topped with chocolate-coated sunflower seeds. The Barako Sibet is the house specialty, but guests also have the option of using arabica or plain barako for their drinks. To pair with the drinks, local delicacies like cassava cake, torta, bibingka, and adobo pandesal are also being served.

The promotion of local coffee heritage is not only seeped in Barako Haus’ drinks, but in its overall concept, with its old-world interiors that’s adorned with wooden chairs and Banig mats. The quaint coffee house has a homelike feel to it, a cozy little hideaway be it for some reading or hanging out with pals. Not to mention, OPM tracks are played there all day, and Dianne added that soon they’ll be dedicating a display area for pasalubong items.

Although the place primarily appeals to coffee lovers, those who are not familiar with beans and whatnot will still find themselves enjoying it there. Barako Haus’ staff are gracious and hospitable, and guide anyone who’s up to try their house blends, serving them with good-tasting coffee—only this time, minus the misconceptions. Barako Haus is in Juana Osmeña St. cor Ma. Cristina St., Capitol Site, Cebu City. It is open from 12 noon to 10 p.m. daily.

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