Want to learn more about coffee? Check out Kafe Kweba 2
KapeKweba sessions are held at the Candid Coffee branch in SM Air. Jeeves de Veyra
Food & Drink

Want to learn more about coffee? Check out Kape Kweba

Kape Kweba started out as coffee tasting sessions during the pandemic where participants are sent coffee and led through a tasting over Zoom.
Jeeves De Veyra | Apr 27 2024

Known for its offbeat and irreverent coffee menu, Candid Coffee welcomes coffee lovers to its Kape Kweba coffee sessions.

For those who find themselves turned off by coffee snobbery, you’re not alone. This coffee chain’s name reflects founder Lanz Castillo’s general attitude towards coffee. If you ask him how he fell into the deep dark rabbit hole of coffee, it wasn’t about flavors or those notes of specialty coffee. Rather, it was about trying out and trying to perfect latte art and everything else followed afterwards.

The next step in his coffee journey was setting up a coffee cart that was open every Sunday. He set it up because he and his parents would go out and look for good coffee where there was none to be found. After this, he immersed himself in coffee with more established shops and roasters.

Castillo is very straightforward about not starting out as a coffee professional. He had to attend coffee school and got his coffee and barista cred from there. He isn’t shy about his ambitions for Candid Coffee and is pretty, well,candid about what the business is -- and isn’t.

Lanz Castillo, founder of Candid Coffee. Jeeves de Veyra
Lanz Castillo, founder of Candid Coffee. Jeeves de Veyra

The goal is really to build a local version of Blue Bottle Coffee. That is, a Filipino specialty coffee chain serving high-end single origin coffees or blends made with these. He even went on the local version of "Shark Tank" called "The Final Pitch" in order to sell this idea with the crazy aim of building 40 branches.

What Candid Coffee isn’t is a specialty coffee shop. Castillo simply says that they’re okay to be called third wave.

“We’re very precise, we pay attention to quality, everything’s well thought off, and  these are curated to hit specific customers,” he says.

For the typical customer who goes through the door, the beans in the pink bags are more affordable blends best for the sweet coffee drinks and the Vietnamese lattes. But for the more discerning coffee crowd, the coffee beans in the black bags are specialty beans which Castillo selects and roasts at Candid Coffee’s roastery.

With this in mind, the coffee shop has its own ways to bridge the gap between the pink and black bag coffee drinkers. That is, for second wave customers who just want their caffeine hit to try something for more, and maybe transition into third wavers who would be more discriminating with their coffee

 The Candid Coffee branch in SM Air. Jeeves de Veyra
The Candid Coffee branch in SM Air. Jeeves de Veyra

And that’s where Kape Kweba comes in.

Kape Kweba started out as coffee-tasting sessions where Castillo would send coffee out to participants and lead them through tasting over Zoom during the pandemic. Now that everything is open and they have an expansive venue courtesy of their SM Air flagship branch, it was time to start face-to-face sessions. Unlike other sessions like this, one doesn’t need to book as a group. You can reserve a one-on-one Kape Kweba session and Candid Coffee will be happy to oblige.

For Kape Kweba, Castillo fades into the background and lets the other rising stars of Candid Coffee take over. This isn’t only due to the coffee-making skills of the baristas, but also connection and storytelling. For this sitting, roaster Patricia Canlas and warehouse manager Katrina Mariano tag-teamed to share their coffee and bits of coffee trivia.

First Course: Sensory Cupping. Jeeves de Veyra
First Course: Sensory Cupping. Jeeves de Veyra

For the first course, the duo held an informal cupping session with coffees from Candid Coffee’s catalog. They don’t adhere strictly to the official protocols of cupping and keep everything streamlined to make efficient use of their time. It’s a nice introduction to sensory appreciation of coffee where the coffees really run the range from the usual dark chocolate and nuts to “bright” fruity coffees. To Castillo’s credit, this is a smart way of letting customers sample the whole gamut of pink and black bagged beans Candid Coffee has for sale.

 Second Course: Pourover. Jeeves de Veyra
Second Course: Pourover. Jeeves de Veyra

The second course features premium and rare coffee. We had coffee brewed from beans roasted and used by Castillo at the 2024 Philippine Barista Competition that demand special care when brewing to get the most out of them. Coffee is served in different containers like wine glasses or different types of cups to let guests get the most out of them. The hosts guide guests through extending the enjoyment of this coffee from the aroma to the changing flavors of the brew as it cools down. 

It probably won’t be this particular coffee for Kape Kweba sessions but Castillo guarantees that the beans will be just as rare and just as special.

 Third Course: Espresso. Jeeves de Veyra
Third Course: Espresso. Jeeves de Veyra

There was a quick break where they served pastries for guests to munch on, while Mariano and Canlas entertained questions. The session concluded with an espresso course consisting of a single shot of espresso, a milk drink, and Current Coffee’s signature drink of the month. This is remarkably similar to the National and World Barista Championship routines where competitors have to produce these same three drinks within fifteen minutes. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was being used to train future barista contestants from the shop.

For the price, I thought that Kape Kweba offers a lot of value for coffee lovers, no matter where they are in their coffee journey. There was a lot of coffee served in the nearly two-hour session. Coffee drinkers looking to expand their coffee horizons will get that with the different brews served by the hosts.

The Kape Kweba sessions are priced at P1,500 per person and are currently only held at the SM Air Makati flagship branch. For available coffee beans, more information, and reservations, please check out @kapekweba or @candidcoffeeph on Instagram.