Java man, now a sommelier

WRY BREAD - Philip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2013 - 12:00am

The worlds of premium portioned coffee and that of wine may, at the surface, look like exclusive domains, with not much areas of interconnection; but Nespresso would have us realize that there is more commonality than meets the eye.

At an event held recently at Vask, Mark Leenders, the Nespresso Asian region market director, passionately spoke about how when it comes to highest quality portioned coffee, Nespresso freely borrows the language of oenology, describing its range of premium coffee with unique aromatic notes as Grand Cru coffees.

Servicing more than 50 countries worldwide as business-to-business solutions, Nestlé Nespresso has formally entered the Philippines by appointing food and beverage distributor, Philippine FoodService Group (PFSG) as its Nespresso agent for Hotels, Restaurants and Catering (HORECA) and office businesses.

Only one to two percent of the coffee grown globally meets the high standards of its for specific taste and aroma profiles, as from tree to cup, Nespresso’s coffee experts blend, roast and create each Grand Cru as a pure, single origin, gastronomic experience. For the Philippines, there are selected ristretto, espresso, lungo and decaffeinated blends, and a host of Limited Editions that should excite every discerning coffee drinker’s palate.

During the partnership launch event, great strides were made in demonstrating how coffee is not just a stand-alone gastronomic experience, but lends itself to all sorts of combining with food and selected libations. Vask’s chef  Chele Gonzalez incorporated coffee in the starter and in the dessert dish that had been especially prepared for the event, and we’ve been treated in the past to coffee beans being matched with single malts and cognacs as ways to top off a wonderful dinner.

As for PFSG, its head honchos, Patrick Pesengco and Herwin See, are more than excited to take on the role of official Nespresso agent for the Philippines. They’ve rolled out the latest Zenius coffee machines for offices and restaurants, while the Pixie and U machines are ideal for home and hotel in-room solutions.

This early, several establishments — offices, restaurants  and hotels have eagerly signed up, knowing full well the kind of statement being made, the equity carried, when Nespresso machines are available at their places of business. At the launch, guests from the industry were relaying to me how a strong “gray market” existed; someone would try the Nespresso at the premium hotel room they stayed in abroad, and would seek the home machine version to bring back to Manila. And this was confirmed by host Issa Litton as she spoke about her own experiences with Nespresso, and how she noted the difference in taste and quality.

Me, I was more in vicarious mode, as one of the allergies I am cursed with, is to coffee! Yes, far from being “Java Man,” I can only watch numbly while people wax rhapsodic about beans, coffee and that bracing, invigorating first cup of the day. And remember what I mentioned about oenology and Nespresso? There’s a unique educational program that focuses on the art of harmonizing coffee with other culinary products such as food, wine, chocolate and water, and it’s called the Nespresso Coffee Sommelier Program!


The ultimate luxury automobile

With a provenance that dates back to 1903, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars company in West Sussex has been the ultimate bastion of luxury car-making, and representing what the highest standards of bespoke automotive manufacturing can mean, for over a century. Now a BMW subsidiary, the factory reached an all-time high in car production and sales in 2012 with 3,575 cars. Of course, that may look like a paltry number, but if you factor in the amount of bespoke work, and the unit cost of these customized vehicles, that 3,000 number represents quite a significant amount of dollars, euros, money! And in response to the favorable economic climate of our country, and the recognition of emerging sales potential, Rolls-Royce has finally appointed an official Philippine dealer — British Bespoke, headed by Willy Tee Ten. This is Willy’s second foray with the British automotive industry, as he also represents Mini Cooper (along with other brands).

At a well-planned, stately affair held at the Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila, that saw both the British and American ambassadors as special guests, the formal appointment was made, and a new era of bespoke luxury cars was launched. Whether you’re ordering a Phantom, a Ghost, or the new Wraith, owning a Rolls-Royce isn’t just about acquiring a car; rather, it’s about making a dream choice, commissioning a work of automotive art. For beyond the choice of model, what makes the Rolls unique is whatever you, the owner, decide to put into it and stamp as “your own!”

One film clip we were treated to spoke of an American billionaire who wanted his Rolls apple red. Recognition was made of how an apple is not just a single color of red, but rather a mix of shades and hues, especially when one takes into account the bruising an apple can endure, and we were shown how Rolls-Royce followed the purchaser’s order to the letter. We were also treated to how carbon graphite was used in the interiors, and how all the bespoke work and customizing took over several months. And of course, the owner was on hand, relaying how he knew he had given very demanding specifications, and how he was more than pleased with the way in which all his demands were met, even going beyond his own expectations. That’s the kind of promise Rolls-Royce makes... and delivers on!

Of course, there was a lot of speculation on who would be Rolls’ first customers, and what kind of bespoke work would be made. Rumor has it that the likes of Willie Revillame and Manuel Pangilinan were among the first to place orders, but rumors are a dime a dozen. Me, I’d rather see the entry of the venerable, iconic marque as proof positive that our country is heading in the right direction in terms of economic development; and hopefully, trickle down prosperity!

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