Young FEU student starts first artisinal coffee shop in Manila

Amid the plethora of tapsihan and pancitan in Sampaloc, Manila, specifically in the University Belt area, a young entrepreneurial student introduced the first third wave coffee shop in the city of Manila, which offers artisanal coffee blends and great meals, such as pasta and sandwiches inspired by notable chefs.

Taking inspiration from his father who started very young in the bakeshop industry, El Claro Chavez, at 20 years, is already focused and set to achieve his goals to become a successful businessman and a lawyer someday.

A student of AB Political Science at the Far Eastern Univeristy (FEU), El Claro, aside from his studies, is also zealous in supervising his own business.

In Photo: El Claro Chavez

The young foodie

Influenced by his father’s love for good food, El Claro developed his love for cooking when he was around five years old. He used to watch his father whenever he’s preparing food in the kitchen. “I have always been fascinated with the things in the kitchen, specially when they were cooking our meals. I was only 5 when I first tried my hands in cooking,” El Claro shared.

Though, still very young, his taste for palatable foods and beverages also improved because of his exposure to awesome dishes served in fine dining restaurants and hotels in and out of the country.

“My father would always bring us to good restaurants and even when we go out of the country, it’s always in our itinerary to dine in a fine resto so we can try out good dishes,” he stressed.

From his exposure to great-tasting recipes, El Claro saw the opportunity to learn from this. He said he started concocting drinks and made his own recipes inspired by the dishes he had tried during his trips.

The entrepreneur

In 2015 an opportunity came after a portion of his father’s business establishment became vacant. Seeing the opportunity to open a new business, El Claro and his father talked about opening a coffee shop because they are very near to the perimeter of the University of Santo Tomas and other educational institutions, hospitals and other businesses.

However, the area is already packed with coffee shops, including a couple of big franchise names. Like his father, El Claro did his own research and did a feasibility studies about the trade he wants to put up. After several months of reading and trying out products, El Claro finally decided that they will still open a coffee shop, but unlike the others, El Claro is set to introduce to the area artisanal coffee blends, thus, the Bean Belt artisanal coffee shop was born a year after a thorough planning.

When asked why he chose artisanal coffee over Italian blends that are very popular among Pinoys, El Claro answered, “Aside from it, is a business decision, based on my research about the attitudes of Pinoys when it comes to coffee drinking, we are already moving toward another level of coffee-blend appreciation.”

Back in the days, the usual coffee of Filipinos was the ground coffee beans boiled together with water, then we have learned how to use brewing machines, then the 3-in-1, then the popularity of coffee shops. And now, a new era of coffee has arrived, the third-wave coffee or the artisanal coffee.

According to Wikipedia, “The third wave of coffee is a movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff like wine rather than a commodity. This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee plant growing, harvesting and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting to skilled brewing.

Third-wave coffee aspires to the highest form of culinary appreciation of coffee, so that one may appreciate subtleties of flavor, varietal and growing region—similar to other complex consumable plant-derived products, such as wine, tea and chocolate. Distinctive features of third-wave coffee include direct trade coffee, high-quality beans, single-origin coffee (as opposed to blends) lighter roasts and latte art. It also includes revivals of alternative methods of coffee preparation, such as vacuum coffee and pour-over brewing devices.

“In short, the third-wave coffee is all about appreciating coffee for what it is—where the beans are from, the quality, how’s it roasted and it’s just about enjoying a quality coffee. And this is what Bean Belt is all about—serving good-quality coffee and as of course, good-tasting food such our own sandwich recipes and pasta,” El Claro said.

The perfect coffee place

Bean Belt promises well-crafted coffee blends and palatable sandwiches and pasta meals and, of course, an ambiance good for catching up with an old friend, meeting with a business partner, family or a colleague,  or for just chilling and enjoying great dishes.

Bean Belt, according to El Claro, aspires to influence the already coffee drinkers and those who haven’t enjoyed a cup to level up their taste for quality coffee. He said he wants to develop a better attitude and character among coffee drinkers.

“People chill inside a coffee shop and it has become a new venue for students to study, or there are other people who stay in a coffee shop for other purposes. I want to emphasize that we go to a coffee shop because for our love for coffee, because, at the time we enter a coffee shop, there is our longing to have a taste of a good coffee,” he stressed.

To give its customers the best coffee concoctions, Bean Belt uses Arabica coffee or highland coffee from various sources mostly Africa (Kenya, in particular, known for its lemony or citrusy taste), Sumatra (Indonesia, known for full body herbal tones) and Davao (from Mount Apo, smooth and slightly sweet) using a roasting profile carefully selected and perfected after a number of trials.

El Claro said that Bean Belt has a fast bar for espresso-based specialty coffee ( P130 to P180 per serving) and  pour-overs—basically using different manual brewing methods  such as  Kalita Wave, Kalita 102 and Chemex—for the more discerning coffee drinkers at P210 per serving.

For more information e-mail [email protected] or visit Bean Belt at 1650 Dapitan St., Sampaloc, Manila.