March 24, 2008


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top left to right: sagada, Figaro blend (barako and arabica), benguet

bottom left to right: LAVAZZA pure arabica, pure barako

Italian stovetop moka pot

My husband and I did a sort-of taste test of the Philippine coffee beans we recently acquired: sagada, benguet, and barako from Baguio and Figaro barako/arabica blend he brought home from his trip to the Philippines. All of them were brewed using the Italian stovetop moka pot. I wanted to use other coffee makers but I thought it was too much trouble. I don't know if the result would have been different if I had used all 4 coffee makers: moka pot, drip, espresso machine, and Melitta manual coffee basket.

We compared the taste of the sagada, benguet, and the Figaro blend with Italian LAVAZZA espresso beans which is what we have been drinking for the last 18 years or so, with a 2-year break when we couldn't find them in the grocery stores and bought Starbucks espresso/French roast blend whole beans. When LAVAZZA became available again in some grocery stores and online I have not bought nor taken any other beans but lavAzza. Barako has a very unique Filipino taste and should not be compared with anything else. Filipinos who are familiar with barako will know with one sip if it is genuine barako beans which the H says is somewhat "grassy".

If you have relatives coming to visit or if you are visiting the Philippines, I recommend buying whole coffee beans, vacuum seal them immediately, and do not refrigerate but store them in an opaque container and keep them in your luggage to prolong its freshness. Two years ago my father-in-law sent us ground barako beans that he stored in his freezer which is the last place you want to store your coffee, and when they got here the coffee grounds were stale and undrinkable.

pure barako: medium roast which is the norm for barako, medium aroma, very good strong barako taste

ME: I love it!
H: likes it, authentic barako taste

sagada: dark roast arabica, very little aroma, okay taste, slightly acidic

ME: not my favorite, won't recommend them
H: just okay, nothing special

benguet: dark roast arabica, very sweet aroma and flavor

ME: sweet aroma, slightly over-roasted and more bitter than LAVAZZA but I love it, comparable in taste to LAVAZZA arabica/robusta espresso blend, highly recommended
H: detects a cigar-like aroma, likes the flavor

Figaro blend: blend of medium roast barako and dark roast arabica, sweet aroma, strong barako taste and hint of arabica

ME: I do not like barako mixed with other beans
H: likes it because he prefers bitter French roast type beans and doesn't mind barako mixed with other beans

LAVAZZA 100% arabica: espresso roast, strong aroma and sweet strong but smooth taste

I will not replace LAVAZZA with other coffee beans anytime soon but will have benguet and barako beans if they are available.

We are not coffee experts and this is just our honest opinion on the different Philippine coffee beans and taste is always subjective. My only advice is do not purchase coffee from McD[s and any other fast food joints, they sell the most awful coffee. The first time I had them I thought I had the flu or getting sick. What I mean is when your tongue is coated and can't taste anything, something like that and realized I was not getting sick, it's the tasteless coffee from McD's and the hotel we were staying in at the time!:D


Anonymous said...

oggi, this post makes me excited to go home to the philippines and try the coffee!

Anonymous said...

thanks for this very thorough taste test, oggi! I think you might've mentioned barako in your blog before, but you've definitely definitely piqued my interest in it again.

Oggi said...

Paoix, don't forget to try the alamid!:)

Marvin at least try barako once, it has a very different taste from arabica/robusta.

Chibog in Chief said...

hi oggi,

im not a coffee drinker but this post is really nice and useful :-) i always smell this barako coffee but i never tasted it..guess i need to make some desserts with it to enjoy them finally :-) im glad to be back

ChichaJo said...

This post has got me craving more barako! I will buy some at the market...maybe this weekend :)

I am so in love with your red stovetop coffee maker!!!

Oggi said...

dhanggit, it's good to have you back! I'm sure you had a great time in the Philippines.
Ooh, coffee flavored dessert would be yummy.:)

chichajo, I'm glad barako is now widely known in the Philippines. It used to be the poor man's coffee!:)
I couldn't resist getting the bright red pot when I saw it in the store.:)

 gmirage said...

I like the smell of coffee but not the taste of it! weird no? hihi.

I have a peronality test for you and a tag at the same time =D Hope you don't mind doing it...its here.

if you decided to do the tag please email me at so I can send you the code...=) Thanks in advance!

desie said...

hmm, i never thought of asking for philippine coffee beans as pasalubong before. great to know there is a lot of choice. thanks for the review!

Oggi said...

gizelle I was like you before I discovered the goodness of brewed coffee, loved the smell but not the coffee itself. I used to drink only Chocolait or Milo when I was younger.:)
I'll email you, and thanks for the tag.

maybahay, we used to buy coffee beans at Rustan's grocery and didn't bother to know where they were grown. It's good that we are learning so much more about them nowadays, specially the Philippine beans.

Anonymous said...

my mother..yoon duyan, roast coffee beans... so good.. she put a bit of brown sugar, half eggshell pounded.. cook it with the coffee beans.. so sweet... a little bitter to taste... after she pound. she boiled it then you taste her coffee.. so much flavorful..... i miss it that was 35yrs ago..

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