DRINKING COFFEE is part of our lives — this is how Paolo del Rosario, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) vice-president for marketing and business development, put it. “You can’t live without coffee. It’s part of daily lives,” he told BusinessWorld.
CBTL was first brewed in Southern California in 1968, and opened its first store in the Philippines in 2003, in Greenbelt, Makati. The brand now has 130 stores nationwide. Worldwide, it is found in 1,000 locations.
It uses only the top 1% special grade arabica beans for its coffee, and the top two leaves and a bud of whole leaf for its teas from various regions around the world.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with a coffee and tea cupping session — evaluating a drink’s taste based on human senses — at 26th Bistro in BGC, Taguig.
The session began with a discussion on the difference between robusta and arabica beans. Robusta beans are oval, brownish in color, and have greater caffeine content, while arabica beans are round, pale to green in color, and are more highly flavored but have less caffeine. The coffee beans are roasted — beans in a light roast have a chestnut brown color, a medium dark roast results in natural oils found on the surface of the beans, while with a dark roast, there are more oils on the surface or they are burnt for more flavor and aroma. The coffees are named for their growing regions and coffee grades. Taste is described through flavor, aroma, body (thickness) and acidity level. Acidity content increases the longer it is not consumed after brewing, resulting in a zesty flavor.
The tea cupping session followed and was done with various types of tea leaves. The green and white tea leaves take a steeping time of three minutes, black tea and oolong tea leaves take five minutes, while herbal and fruit infusions take seven minutes. The teas are beneficial for assisting digestion, stimulating alertness, and helping ease a soar throat, respectively. The steeping time is important to prevent bitterness.
Providing opportunities for people has been at the heart of the business for the last 15 years. “We were growing very slowly in the beginning but having reached this scale and getting CBTL to be the brand that it is in the Philippines today is definitely one of our proudest achievements,” Mr. Del Rosario said, noting the numerous job opportunities they have created for their staff. “We invest a lot on our people and I think we’ve given our people tremendous opportunities. A lot of our managers started as baristas and worked their way up.”
Having numerous stores and customers prompted the CBTL team to hold outreach programs, which started in 2008, with plans to expand activities in Visayas and Mindanao. “We are advocates for volunteerism. Every month, we have volunteer activities where our community members and customers can join us in tree planting, and cooking-baking events with cancer [patients]. Everybody wants to help but not everybody knows how or what they can do, [and] creating a channel to be able to participate and do good has worked for us,” Mr. Del Rosario said.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is celebrating its anniversary with the You and Me campaign.
“It’s about us and our customers — all the moments shared in our company, Mr. del Rosario said, citing study groups, meetings, marriage proposals, and pre-nuptial shoots that have been held in its branches. “As a brand, we’re part of a lot of people’s lives.”
In line with the campaign, CBTL has started offering limited edition drinks during the Mondays Made Better promo which runs for 15 weeks until July 30. Mr. Del Rosario also said that a line of locally made bamboo merchandise is set for release this year. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman