% Arabica The Podium – Review

When my friend said she was going to have an arabica, I teased her for being so specific. I thought she meant the type of coffee, turns out she was referring to the cafe. We met at The Podium last 29th August for our long-time-coming meetup that got delayed no-thanks to the pandemic. So we had pizza for lunch, matcha soft-serve for dessert, then ended our meetup with good coffee from Japan, % Arabica.

% Arabica is a Japanese cafe founded by a man named Kenneth Shoji. He took a loan, which he used to buy a coffee farm in Hawaii then started trading green beans. Eventually, he opened his first cafe in Kyoto, Japan in 2014. Today, % Arabica has branches all over the globe, two of which are in the Philippines, one at Bonifacio Global City, and another (the subject of this post) in Ortigas.

I’ve been to % Arabica BGC branch in 2018 during its opening and even met the head barista and first Champion of Coffee Fest Latte Art World Championship, Junichi Yamaguchi.

It’s me with Junichi Yamaguchi at % Arabica, BGC

The cafe’s design is monochromatic minimalistic, the lighting is bright, the walls and the bar area are painted in white. I can’t say much about the seating area on the loft as it’s closed. For now, they only take orders to-go. 

We both ordered a Spanish latte, only my friend had the iced version. The barista used a tablet to enter our order. Spanish tastes a bit similar to the Vietnamese coffee, maybe because they share the same ingredient, the condensed milk. So yes, this is sweeter than most lattes, but more than the sweetness, I find the tangy flavor more pronounced. Not sure if it’s there’s a difference if you take it iced. I am not a fan of acidic coffee but I must say that this Spanish latte passed to my liking.

I’ve never been a cookie person but lately, I just find them weirdly appetizing and this white chocolate cookie of %Arabica did not disappoint. It was dense, not crumbly, and a bit chewy. I love it. The cafe latte, on the other hand, is like the unsweetened version of Spanish latte.

% Arabica also sells coffee beans and grounds as well as merchandise such as canisters, tumblers, and tote bags.  

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