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Third wave coffee

Frog Kaffee and Roastery’s coffee comes from machines more expensive than cars

I saw a sign in Torres St., Davao City that directs you to an entire strip where you can choose one of the coffee specialty places there that serve signature drinks and desserts or eats that complement their coffees. What got our curiosity was the news of a pricey coffee that seems to be at par with Manila prices for specialty coffee. I knew it immediately that this place, Frog Kaffee, was serious about calling what they serve as “third wave” coffee. Immediately, as we entered the well-patronized coffee place, we realized that Davao is home to a unique craft coffee destination because one will see the two expensive espresso machines on the counter. You might as well ask the company that sold this state-of-the-art coffee to attach four wheels and a steering wheel for alternative uses because they both cost more than an automobile.

The coffee roaster that is more expensive than a car.

The coffee roaster that is more expensive than a car.

To the left side—if one is not into espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes—you can choose between five gadgets to extract and get the full characters of the chosen coffee style: Kalita, Chemex, Aeropress, Siphon, and cold drip. It was a truly impressive setup because many main cities in the country don’t have what this café offers. To add to this array of coffee gadgets is a full commercial roaster that is enshrined on a well-lit corner. I met the owner, coffee expert Markus Ableitinger who used to be a bank executive in Hong Kong. He decided to pursue his dreams of beaches, nature worship, and taking it easy (Now he can’t) with his Filipina wife, Gina who hails from this side of Mindanao. Markus now expertly roasts imported. green coffee beans every two or three days, depending on the crowd that comes over to enjoy  third wave coffee preparations. Their menu is conservative enough to state that the roasted beans are no more than two weeks old. The staff is very knowledgeable in discussing the attributes of the different extraction methods. Gina, who is often tending to customers in the counter, comes over to assist with care in the extractions and gadgetry. I asked the waiter the reason why their espresso takes a minimum of 20 seconds and a maximum of 25 to which I was given an impressive answer without a condescending tone.

The house coffee blend may change a little from time to time but the style is a rich, dark roast that brings out the caramel notes because of the sugar in the beans. It  also gives certain deep complexities especially, the upfront spicy aromas and flavors with certain floral and winey notes. I’ve stuck to this blend especially because it is prepared so well, with so much compact crema that has a nice deep tan. One evening, I left Frog Kaffee speeding because Markus brought out a cold extraction that took a few hours of steeping the ground blend and having it drop on a carafe. This Japanese-Taiwanese innovation clearly reduces the acids formed during heat extraction and a pure essence of coffee placed iced on old-fashioned glasses like scotch hits one sans alcohol and keeps you alert till daylight.

Frog Kaffee and Roastery's menu choices

Frog Kaffee and Roastery’s menu choices

Another alternative is to have one of the coffee cocktails like the James Bond Martini “pick me up” with kahlua, vodka, espresso, and a Ferrero Rocher topping. For some pastries to complement the coffees, I’ve had the sacher torte with the traditional whipped cream on the side to add moisture to the chocolate cake. The winners for me, though, are the Cocomo cheesecake or flaked coconut, chocolate and cream cheese with graham cracker crust, and chocolate lasagna that seems to be a layered take on tiramisu as there is an espresso and chocolate topping.

In the near future, I would like to try Markus’s local beans that he mentioned he had been buying from the small farmers. The soil of Mount Apo and the nearby mountains lend themselves to the growing of good fruit. Davao already has Markus as a master roaster and it all starts from fruit that will bring out the beans. This is certainly exciting!


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