(By: Jimmy K. Laking)
My search for an authentic coffee shop may have ended on that sidewalk across the Carmelite Convent along J. P. Laurel in Davao City.
It is not a coffee shop in the exact sense of the words but a one-table affair where the essential ingredients and tools in brewing are on display. The beans are also authentic Arabica and John Rey “Biboy” Plaza, a coffee shop barista displaced by the pandemic, knows whereof he stands and speaks where coffee and brewing are concerned.
But no matter. Whether standing up or sitting on a stool, sipping your brewed coffee is one of the reasons that enamored me to this region.
The other of course is the coconut nectar wine or tuba that is “best consumed fresh when it is still sweet.” It is a wine like no other and is at par with the wine extracted from Cabo Negro (Arenga pinnata) palm tree that I had the chance twice to taste in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
In that coastal village fronting the Davao gulf where I spent half of the month mostly, tuba is the wine to close all arguments.
But in Davao City where I stay the rest of the month, it is the smell of brewed coffee (whether Arabica or Robusta) that completes my day.
In the years when PRRD was first getting noticed as a mayor, coffee shops serving brewed coffee were favorite watering holes along St. Pedro St. and in at least two famous hotels at the Poblacion.
But with the rise of skyscrapers and the number of big hotels, food chains and convenience stores that matched the strides of the tourism industry, the traditional coffee shops literally took a back seat or folded up. The new hotels opened up their own coffee shops that each attracted their own clientele.
But with the pandemic striking a hammer blow, even these Class A and B watering holes had to scale down or to close operation.
So it is with inner joy that I spotted Biboy’s one-man coffee shop on that pavement along J. P. Laurel St. one morning. That joy transformed into bliss when his menu showed Arabica on top of the list.
Inquiries showed his clientele are composed mostly of early morning bikers and health buffs who do their jogging and exercises at the vacant lots of a giant mall nearby. More inquiries showed his clientele included businesses executives and employees who appreciate good coffee when they see one. My own reason in sticking to coffee was special. It was while sipping brewed coffee in my hometown one day when a nurse suggested for me to drop sugar all together. I balked at the idea at first. But when I took my first cup of coffee sans cream and sugar, I never looked back. I recalled that 10 years earlier before this, I also dropped cigarettes and did not regret it. I also subsequently dropped alcohol but did not mind taking a cup of newly-gathered tuba time and again.
So while I am getting on with age, I am as spry as a much-younger man.
I may have lost a step that I will concede (for there is no holding the passing of time) but I am still up to the task. I also know that while there is coffee and tuba to be had, all the more reason to enjoy life and enjoy its blessings. Believe you me, coffee (and tuba occasionally) can make your day.