Everyone has learned that they can buy arabica and robusta coffee; the former is more expensive and of premium quality, the latter is cheaper and simpler. We were all raised on the latter one.
Well, this is not necessarily true. On the other hand, there are more than just these two types, though these are the most widespread. For example, the Barako coffee shop in Török Street sells barako coffee, which accounts for less than 1% of coffee production in the world. Ryan Luelyn, the owner from the Philippines, imports the coffee beans from his family’s plantation in order to sell them in Budapest.
Crazy. All of a sudden, he began looking for a place on the other side of the world where it would be worth opening a coffee bar. And clearly he preferred Budapest: a city with a traditional coffee bar culture and people who like this drink, but don’t know much about current trends and coffee in general. He looked at corporate taxes and was satisfied (only to later realize that he had looked at only a few of them and that he has to pay six different taxes), so he decided to set off and is now here.
Ryan is a coffee designer. It may sound pretentious or ridiculous, but there’s a real difference in terms of his behavior and approach. He doesn’t want to serve the coffee that he selects to best match the style of preparation. What he wants to know is what brands his guests like and how they like it. So he experiments a lot with his regular guests and is not afraid to give them robusta or over-roast coffee if that’s what they like. He wants to please everybody by making the kind of coffee that they like.
And, if possible, at a place that is not much-frequented. He didn’t want to go to the party quarter because the essence of his work would lose its flavor, since he has no wish to serve swarms of people. He much prefers to deal with his guests at a quiet Buda pace. It’s a good thing if someone comes to check out Barako from a faraway place, since a person like that is really looking for something. He doesn’t necessarily know what it is though.
And the owner behind his test tubes – sorry, his siphons – is indeed as exciting as one would think based on the above description. The additional good news is that for the price of two coffees, he gives a workshop which introduces you to all the exciting aspects of coffee-making and the coffees sold here.
Out of curiosity and due to the recommendation by cink.hu, I went to the first occasion where we tasted six different coffees blindly, poured through a filter. There were various arabica blends (in some cases two infusions were made of the same blend, but prepared differently), one barako and one dead robusta roasted 7 months ago. The last one was so bitter that I even liked it, but Ryan didn’t mind. Of course, I liked the fourth one best, as did many others at the tasting event, which – to his greatest delight – happened to be the owner’s own barako. It’s really great stuff.
Something was dripping on the back shelf when we were there. Ice drip coffee was being prepared, which would be the main attraction for the evening: a big piece of ice is placed over the coffee and as it is melting, it goes through the filter drip by drip. One portion drips down in 10 hours. No brewing at all; the aromas are simple washed out of the ground coffee by the ice-cold water.
And what is extremely important: the second part of Ryan’s training workshop will be this Saturday. This time we will have a chance to see the difference between the various ways of brewing coffee. All you can drink for HUF 1200. I think you should go there before it gets packed. It helps if you know a bit of English, though there will be people around who can help you out. Let’s be honest, I think coffee terms sound much better in English. Blooming, going flat, brew and the like. Be prepared to be hyperactive for a few hours afterwards. Here is where you can register.
Barako coffee shop
Address: 1023 Budapest, Török u. 3
Opening hours: Monday through Saturday: 08:00 – 20:00, Sunday: 9:00-18:00
Translation provided by Helpers Business and Immigration Services. Find us at www.helpers.hu