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June 30, 2015

After having my first specialty coffee at Department of Coffee, I felt that I could never come back but unfortunately DOC had to move so I had to find another Third-wave coffee establishment located nearby.

In my search, I found several establishments within a couple of miles of DOC. One of which is EPIC Coffee at Kapitolyo, Pasig. One would think that after 2011, the word epic would lose its efficacy because of over use. So I aim to answer whether this place lives up to its name.

EPIC sits on the ground floor of a building along East Capitol Drive with two big round signages that you can not miss. Parking like in most establishments in Kapitolyo is very hard to come by so remember that patience is a virtue. Usually the security guard will let assist you with this should you have difficulty. 

It feels like you've stepped into a cozy log cabin.

The Ambiance

From the outside is a slender facade that may give an impression of a tight space, but you'll be surprised at how long the space is. Once inside, you feel like you've stepped inside a cozy log cabin of a bicycle enthusiast that has been remodelled with modern touches.

As I took my seat, I felt the warmth of this place, and it made me feel like I was coming home. Thoughts on how my parents are flood my mind with the last thing being 'I should get some work done and give them a call.'

A long counter with all their utensils and their offerings on display.

The counter is long with most of their utensils and offerings on display. The different beans and different teas are on on top for you to take your pick. They also display the different cakes they offer and you'd better be careful because all of them can break your diets.

The Toasted Marshmallow Flavoured Latte

The Coffee

They offer beans from the usual bean sourced countries with the EPIC bean blend their home blend. What is unique to EPIC is their take on the Sea Salt Caramel, Toasted Marshmallow, Affogato and Frappes.

The sea salt caramel is straight forward. I wasn't really a big fan of the hype it had but when I had it with their Coffee it was way beyond my expectation. The sea salt perfectly clashed with the sweetness of the caramel, and the bitterness of the coffee. The flavors then danced in unison as they balance each other out in your mouth, but the flavors never dissolves the other. You taste all of them distinctively, and together. It is fine hot, cold or frappe. Pick your poison.

The toasted marshmallow is a little different. Toasting the marshmallow brings its sweetness out, and on its own it would overload your tastebuds. It did serve as the perfect contrast to the flavours of the beans from the coffee. I found it a good alternative to caramel when you want to have that hint of fluffiness from the marshmallow.

On the other hand, their affogato is different. It is a scoop of Ice cream served with a shot of espresso which they serve separately. You will notice that when you pour the espresso that it can't hold the scoop of ice cream and the whole pitcher of espresso which adds a different dynamic to the usual affogato where they are served together. By doing this, they let you add more coffee as you eat the ice cream bit by bit. It is also mesmerising to see the hot coffee collide with the cold ice cream. The way the ice cream melts so gracefully is quite appetising.

Enjoying the affogato is a balancing act. It exists as both liquid and solid. Drinking too much of the coffee will make it taste more like the ice cream. Eating too much ice cream will lead to a sweetened coffee mixture. The latter is less likely to occur since there is mire ice cream than coffee.
Overall the affogato is a sweet treat where it is more dessert than beverage, and more indulgent than energising.

The Service and the Price

The Baristas are kind, and are open to your requests. They welcome you warmly as you come in and patiently take your order and questions. 

Coffee prices starts  Php 80.00 with an espresso and can get up to Php 260.00 for the COLD Affogato. (the hot affogato is Php 160.00) while the cakes start at Php 125.00. They also serve sandwiches like turkey ham, smoked salmon and vegan sandwiches that start at Php 130.00. Prices are reasonable and well worth your time and taste buds. I just find the premium offerings to be a little pricey. I hope to see you there.

The Verdict

Overall Verdict: A-
Beverage Quality: A
Service Quality: A
Bang for your Buck: A-

Do you want to Contact 'Epic Coffee'
Address: 102 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone number: (+63) 916-355-4129

Facebook: www.facebook.com/epiccafeofficial
Instagram: @epiccafeofficial

 Operating Hours: 8AM to 10PM

June 18, 2015

SanDisk, the global leader in flash storage solutions officially introduced a new line of mobile memory solutions in the Philippines. The new products include multiple storage solutions to cater the needs of the mobile market.

SanDisk showcased a new wide range of offerings like the Sandisk microSD cards, SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive, SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive and the latest Dual USB drive with Type C Connector.

The main highlight of yesterday’s even is the 200 GB version. So in case you’re interested to know the price of the 200 GB variant, it’s still a luxury at this point at USD 399 (playing around PHP 18,000). This will work on any device that supports up to 64 GB storage. This could be perfect for audiophile and videophiles who wanted to store a lot of 24 bit lossless audio and record FHD videos on their devices. It’s worth of an investment if you really want it. It will be available in the Philippines this 3rd quarter of 2015 with 10 years of warranty.

iXpand Flash Drive – this one is a cool new innovation that’s targeted for IOS users as this is a special type of flash drive that works for iDevices. (iPhone and iPad) It’s a powerful storage solution that lets you transfer your files easily from iDevice to iXpand and vice versa. It can also let you instantly play popular video formats including non native and PC-friendly ones like AVI and WMV. It’s that cool!
This one is available in 16, 32, 64 and 128 GB. Priced at PHP 3,800, 5,500, 8,000 and 12,000 respectively.

SanDisk Dual USB Drive with Type C Connector – with this new type of innovation is starting to boom. SanDisk thinks ahead and is already prepared with this. They just created their first USB Type C Connector that can let you transfer your contents from a Mobile Device to a Mac or PC. For those who missed it, USB Type C is the reversible type of USB that works in any way you plug it that removes the hassle of finding the right side of your connector. This is the future.
It will be available in the Philippines this June 2015 priced at 4,199 for the 32 GB version.

SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive – this device is another must have for Android users who wanted to transfer or backup their files easily from PC to smartphone and vice versa. It is the USB 3.0 version of the cool USB OTG Dual USB Drive that swtich easily from one mode to another in a single slide with its retractable design. It has a read speed performance up to 130 MB/s that can let you transfer your data in a flash.

The SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 is now available in the Philippines through the authorized SanDisk resellers in 16, 32, 64 GB. Priced at a very affordable PHP 699, 1,299 and 2,299 only.

June 12, 2015

Neil Tries Korean Bing-su at Cafe SeoulHwa Feat. Jayme Jalandoni of PBB

With the 2015 summer weather maintaining temperatures above 34 degrees Celsius, everyone is encouraged to find a way to cool down. From becoming a mermaid from the vast seas covering the archipelago to simply chewing on shave ice delights like the Filipino Halo-halo. 

The Halo-halo is a desert mixture where ingredients like the jackfruit, kidney beans, garbanzos, sugar palm fruit (kaong), coconut sport (macapuno), gulaman, tapioca, nata de coco and pounded crushed young rice (pinipig) is placed at the bottom of the glass followed by a tall layer of shaved ice and topped with leche flan, purple yam (ube) or ice cream, which is finished with a generous serving of evaporated milk upon serving.

I've had this delectable desert for as long as I can remember, and I decided that I wanted something a little different. It just so happened that my friend mentioned, Cafe SeoulHwa, a Korean cafe in global city that could satisfy my curiosity.

Neil Tries Korean Bing-su at Cafe SeoulHwa Feat. Jayme Jalandoni of PBB strawberry
A Traditional Patbingsu is topped with choped fruits, condensed milk, fruit syrup and Adzuki beans!

They specialize in the Korean shaved ice desert called bing-su which was derived from Patbingsu (Patbingsoo or 팥빙수) which literally translates to red beans with ice. It is made with shaved ice topped with chopped fruits, condensed milk, fruit syrup and Adzuki beans.

As mentioned earlier, the cafe specializes in Patbing-su and with bing-su variations like the strawberry bing-su, the chocolate brownie bing-su and the Wine bing-su. 

You are welcome to satisfy your curiosity here. In fact the one manning the cashier is a of Korean descent. He speaks fluent English though so it won't be that hard to find what you will like.

So I googled the place the night before, and planned my route. I contacted a friend of mine because I had a feeling that she would like to try something Korean, I mean different. You may know her from Pinoy Big Brother 2014, Jayme Jalandoni.

Neil Tries Korean Bing-su at Cafe SeoulHwa Feat. Jayme Jalandoni of PBB Ambiance
The walls are decorated with murals that evoke a frozen paradise feel to the place

The Ambiance

Cafe SeoulHwa can be found at the Second floor of the Forum South Global complex near the corner of 7th ave. and the 26th ave meet at the Fort Global City. The facade of the cafe is all glass with an embossed signage lining the top of the glass panels.

As you enter you find the counter on the right and the tables and chairs on the left up to the back of the room. The walls are decorated with murals that evoke a frozen paradise like an adorable penguin that resembles the one from happy feat and a friendly polar bear eating a strawberry bing-su.  In between the murals are informative posters that have pictures and trivia about the different kinds of bing-su.

The lightning from the outside brightens the room, and is complimented by the soft yellow-orange lights that illuminate the murals, posters and tables.

Neil Tries Korean Bing-su at Cafe SeoulHwa Feat. Jayme Jalandoni of PBB Strawberry Brownie Bingsu
You may know her from PBB 2014, Jayme Jalandoni!

The Bing-su

I have always had an affinity for sour fruits like berries and green mangoes; hence, I chose the strawberry bing-su. Jayme on the other hand picked the brownie chocolate bing-su because chocolate and girls are almost always together.

When I took my first scoop I got a whole slice of strawberry and a portion of the shaved ice. What I noticed right away was that the shaved ice is a lot thiner and finer than what I am used to. Shaped like thin needles that quickly melt in your mouth releasing the sweet flavors of the syrup and the condensed milk which compliments the sourness of the strawberry slice in my mouth. It was wonderful dance of flavors that refreshes you at the same time.

For the ones with sweet teeth, the brownie chocolate bing-su might be for you. The sweetness of the syrup, condensed milk with the needle like shaved ice is still there but with chocolate and chocolate brownies. If you've ever had chocolate syrup and chocolate cake with chocolate brownies then you already know how it will taste but with the fine shaved ice consistency. It was too sweet for my taste but this is me.

Neil Tries Korean Bing-su at Cafe SeoulHwa Feat. Jayme Jalandoni of PBB Barangay
With their wide selection of beverages, you can practically bring the whole barangay here and have something for every one

The Service

Once I arrived I was immediately greeted by the staff. They were lead by the man at the cashier who is of Korean descent but speaks english fluently. The staff was kind and patient with a first timer like me. I asked quite a bit of questions like what is a bing-su, what are the variations, and quite a lot more, and all of them were answered in a moderate volume soft spoken voice. It was surprisingly reassuring.

The bing-su arrived at around ten (10) minutes after we ordered, and were kind enough to give me us some extra tissue upon request.

Although they focus on Bing-su they are still a cafe and serve coffee, tea and ice blended beverages. These can vary from expressos, lattes, yoghurt, shakes, smoothies, and teas. So you can practically bring the whole barangay here and have something for any one especially if you just want to sit down and cool off from the Summer Manila Weather.

Neil Tries Korean Bing-su at Cafe SeoulHwa Feat. Jayme Jalandoni of PBB Final

The Price

Prices start at Php 190.00 for the single serving Bing-su, and Php 260.00 for the shared serving. They also serve a variety of Nutritious Desserts like Injeolmi Toast and Berries Hodduk Pan Cake, a variety of sandwiches which start at Php 180.00 that could max out at Php 300.00

They also have a set menu for a combination of the bing-su and the nutritious desserts or sandwiches that start at Php 360.00 and max out at Php 420.00.

The rest of their beverage collection start at Php 105.00 and can max out at Php 200.00 per beverage.

Do you want to Contact 'Cafe SeoulHwa?'
Address: 2nd Floor, Forum South Global, Federacion Drive 7th Ave, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
 Operating Hours: Mon-Suns: 10AM to 10PM

June 07, 2015

Tips from the National Sleep Foundation on How to Have Better Quality Sleep

College is infamous for those demanding work loads from the different subjects, and the infinitely unimaginable ways students cope with it. I for one am not a stranger to those things, but I made it a priority to sleep at least six (6) hours each night which to my classmates at the time called it impossible.

I would come home as early as I could to do my homework and read the lectures and when I could I would stop at 9PM and eventually fall asleep at 10PM which would result to me waking up at 5AM to get myself groomed up and eat breakfast before going on the commute.

If it was unavoidable because of the time consuming projects and research papers we had to do I would try to finish as much as I could and sleep. Surprisingly, I made it out with out failing. My grades weren't particularly high but they weren't bad.

Tips from the National Sleep Foundation on How to Have Better Quality Sleep

The Average life expectancy of a human being today is roughly Six-hundred seventy-five thousand hours (675,000 hours) where one-third (1/3) is spent on sleeping which implies that sleeping is an important part of our daily life, yet some of us take it for granted. Even though it seems that we are unconscious and resting, the body is busy with muscle repair, memory consolidation and hormone release; hence, for any reason that the sleep process be cut-short, we do not obtain the benefits of feeling refreshed, sharp concentration; thus, limiting our full engagement of social and physical activities.

So what can we do to get the best quality sleep that we need badly? The National Sleep Foundation was kind enough to share them to us and they are the following:

Tips from the National Sleep Foundation on How to Have Better Quality Sleep

1. Keep a sleep schedule where the sleep time and the wake up time are constant. This regulates your body clock (or Circadian Rhythm) which helps you fall asleep and wake up better.

2. If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power naps can help you through your day but avoiding it can help fall asleep.

3. Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing routine done separated from bright lights and activities that promote excitement, stress and anxiety encourage better, deeper and consistent sleep.

4. Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and eating heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine disrupt sleep where as heavy meals can disrupt sleep. It would be best to avoid eating means two (2) to three (3) hours before bedtime. If you are still hungry try having a light snack at least forty-five (45) minutes before bedtime.

Tips from the National Sleep Foundation on How to Have Better Quality Sleep

5. Exercise daily. Vigorous workouts are the ideal, but even light ones are better than inactivity. Exercising at any time of the day is fine, but never at the expense of sleep.

6.  Wind down. The body needs time to shift from high activity during the day and the down time at night. Electronic devices that have bright lights may make it hard to fall asleep because of the light exposure activates the brain activity.

7. Use good quality mattresses and pillows. The life expectancy of your loyal mattress is roughly nine (9) to ten (10) years so make sure yours is comfortable, clean and supportive. Pillows on the other hand should be free from allergens and be attractive and be inviting so as to help in winding down.

8. Try going into another room and perform an activity until you feel tired. The bedroom should be associated only with sleep and sex. To strengthen this, you must omit work materials electronics and distracting objects away from the bedroom. 

[Source: National Sleep Foundation]

June 05, 2015

Neil Writes About The Curator Coffee and Cocktails (With Video) Slider

I have heard of a coffee shop that serves #YKW coffee beans that is hidden at the heart of Legazpi Village right across the Park, but you won't find it if you weren't looking for it. Like any other day it was time to satisfy my curiosity so I set out to find this hidden coffee oasis.

Once you see the Cyrano Wine Shop along Legazpi you may find yourself a little confused because the wine shop itself isn't too big yet you will find the standard sauvignons and merlots on the shelves, but soon after you will notice a normal sized bright brown wooden door at the edge of the room which appeals to your curiosity and pulls you in and as you open it, you will find yourself into the Curator!

Neil Writes About The Curator Coffee and Cocktails (With Video) Ambiance
The wood from the upholstery and the bar and the artworks are sourced locally sourced

The Ambiance

The Cyrano wine shop's aesthetics is your typical store with huge windows and with huge shelves to accommodate their wide selection of wines, but once you see the Curator you will be surprised by the total departure from that design language where there are a lot of textured concrete with accents of steel pipes, steel switches and wooden upholstery. It is a modern take on concrete rustic look which amazingly is classier than the sum of its parts.

The wood from the upholstery the bar and the framed artworks and the art themselves are sourced locally which is a reaffirmation that Filipinos are capable of world class craftsmanship that leaves you smiling whenever you sit down and relax at this place


The Coffee, The Cocktails and The Service

Similar to Satchmi, they get their beams from #YKW, so EDSA Beverage Design Group staples like the Winds of Winter, Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe and the Panama Carmen Estate are present which in my book is already a winner. All that's left is whether their machine and their baristas are up to par.

As I've had my Ethiopia from EDSA once before I already had my expectations set; however, I was surprised that the signature fruity flavor at the end which I am not a big fan of wasn't as strong as I remembered. I liked it and with that two-thirds of the equation is set!

Neil Writes About The Curator Coffee and Cocktails (With Video) Table and Seating

I then asked the kind baristas as to how this was so. Apparently, It is still up to how the barista who calibrates and who prepares  the ingredients. I promptly asked for the barista who calibrated and praised him.

This wasn't the first time that I had a lot of questions and Giann, Sonny and Ivan were all very kind to accommodate my curiosities and observations with regards to the beverages and the coffee. Their passion for their craft really shines as they patiently listened and answered my queries with out fail. It came to the point that they let me inside the bar and let me try making my own espresso.

Neil Writes About The Curator Coffee and Cocktails (With Video) Victoria Arduino
It immediately catches your eye because of its copper color and Steam Punk Aesthetics!

Their machine is the Italian made Victoria Arduino which immediately catches your eye because of its copper color and steam punk aesthetics. It was wonderful to take her for a spin even though it was just pulling the huge lever that made a clicking sound to tell you it's done.

As for the cocktails I was only able to try their latest creation, the Shako-WHAT-o which at the time was only three days old. It was an amazing creation that was made from different ingredients and their home made cold brew which the only draw back was the fact that I couldn't sleep that night which could be a huge appeal for some people.

Neil Writes About The Curator Coffee and Cocktails (With Video) Shako-WHAT-o
The Chakawhato is made with several ingredients along with their home made cold brew!

I am already finding reasons to come back so I can try the following: the Catcher, the Miss Gardner and the Rye 'n Gosling. I hope to come by again real soon.

The Price

Their coffee starts at Php 120.00 while their juices and cocktails start at Php 250.00 and can max out at Php 800.00 per drink. They also serve a variety of coffee partners like Beef tapa Brioche, and the Doughdealer Cookies that start at Php 90.00 where it can max out at Php 450.00 like the chiken Pastel.

A showcase of their Barista's Skill at Latte Art!

The Verdict

Overall Verdict: A
Beverage Quality: A
Service Quality: A
Bang for your Buck: A

Do you want to Contact 'The Curator Coffee and Cocktails'
Address: 194 Legazpi St. cor. C. Palanca St., Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone number: (+63) 916-355-4129

Website: www.thecurator.com.ph
Instagram: @thecurator_

 Operating Hours: Mon-Thurs: 7AM to 2AM; Fri-Sat: 7AM to 3AM; Sun: 7AM to 6PM

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