If it isn’t obvious enough, I love myself a good cup of coffee. And places that serve truly exquisite ones are hard to come by. It’s fairly easy for anyone to fall into the trap of paying for a highly commercialized coffee chain and expecting the best, but truly great coffee doesn’t stop at sourcing the beans. Preparation methods and being mindful of the time between getting the coffee from the roasters into your cup are all part of what makes coffee truly superb. Thankfully, BF Homes houses not only celebrities and businessmen’s families, but also, this coffee expert and his masterpiece.
Meet Jonathan Choi, the Head Bean of Magnum Opus Fine Coffees. He created a space for people to enjoy coffee, not just for its jolt of caffeine, but its various flavors. With BF Homes’ commercial district, Aguirre Avenue, always keeping the lights on at night for the people to just get out and talk, Magnum Opus is the top hub for just that.
Like a batch of specialty roasted coffee, the space of Magnum Opus is likewise small. Abstract pieces of art bring a bit of color to the depth brought on by the dark wooden pieces. Boxes of different types of coffee pots and whatnots are on the shelf. And yes, the door to the water closet is the bluest blue police box that travels through time and relative distance in space.
Despite Magnum Opus’ attention to detail in its coffee, that isn’t just the same with how the place looks at the moment. Some great looking pieces, inconsistently displayed. But that doesn’t stop people from coming in at around 10PM every night. In fact, the place says a lot about what you should expect from its coffee. Great coffee doesn’t mean flamboyant frappes and piles of spiced whipped cream–great coffee is about going back to the bare essentials, stripping down to the flavor profile, and focusing on what really matters.
We decided to visit the cafe at a less crowded timeslot, and grab post-lunch coffee and desserts. I was with JC, my loving boyfriend who is tolerant of how I take pictures of my food and talk about what I’m eating at great depth. (It’s useful on a blog, but imagine how annoying it is in real life.) With us was his niece Chesca, who just really wanted dessert, and thankfully, his mom, Amy Tamayo, who was a huge fan of good coffee herself. She’s been involved with developing a blend with Mang Juan Roasters, which produces small-batch roasted local coffee. She’s my go-to semi oficionado about these kinds of things.
We had the honor of chatting up with Jonathan as he himself prepared our hand-brewed coffee. We had a light but earthy El Salvador blend, which he prepared via pour-over method. And the Brazilian blend, which is much closer to the flavor profile that Filipinos love. Rich, and bold, with a bit of a cocoa-like flavor to it, they use the Brazilian for their espresso as well to keep the taste of their cappuccinos and lattes consistent.
The Brazilian blend was brewed via the Chemex, which I barely ever see in the Manila coffee scene. I myself am a French press kind of gal, so I let the bitterness and the oils and the acidity of the coffee to just sit together. With the Chemex, the difference is that it allows you to taste only the unique flavor that the coffee has to offer.
We took these two coffees unsweetened, and matched them up with the right desserts instead to balance the taste. Because of the pour-over method, there was no unnecessary bitterness or acidity that had to be dealt with or cleaned out with cream or sugar.
We paired the El Salvador with their apple strudel ala mode. El Salvador has a vibrant red hue, and such a light flavor mixed in with a bit of smoky wood taste, that it would remind you of South Africa’s Rooibos tea.
Other than the hand-brewed coffees, we also took a Belgian Heartbreak and paired it with a New York Cheesecake. The Belgian Heartbreak is basically a mocha latte using the same Brazilian blend for its espresso, some rich Belgian chocolate, and hot foamed milk. It’s a top favorite for customers, even for those who aren’t huge fans (or high-brow snoots) when it comes to their coffee. The cheesecake has perfect texture, and it isn’t too sweet, neither is its tartness that overwhelming either. This is a great pairing and is a definite back-to-basics that absolutely anyone could appreciate.
The Brazilian hand-brewn coffee was paired with the Sticky Date, a bread pudding amidst a sea of butterscotch custard, topped with cream and caramel. The sweetness of the Sticky Date hits all the right notes of rich cocoa in the Brazilian coffee. “It tastes like a cookie having sex with a donut,” Ed Slaterton said in the book Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, describing his first enjoyable sip of coffee. And he’s right. This is exactly what this pairing tastes like. It’s a brilliant marriage of sweet, light, airy fluffs of sugar, with the deep, rich, and bold. This is a ten-out-of-ten, hit-it-right-out-of-the-park-home-run kind of pairing, that just doesn’t go wrong. I am definitely not a fan of bread puddings, but I am a big fan of the combination of Magnum Opus’ Sticky Date and their hand-brewn and unsweetened Brazilian coffee.
Magnum Opus may just be a humble neighborhood cafe for southerners wanting to discuss art or science fiction, but its offerings are a revelation to the world of creative coffee and desserts. Next time I’m coming back, it’ll be for the Wafflegato and the Duet. But I’m certain that any visitor, whether new or recurring, would come back to Magnum Opus each time with a new and exciting masterpiece to experience.
If you’re looking to try them out, they’re at the second floor at the intersection of Aguirre Avenue and J. Elizalde, right across a building that says Lego Block Education, and around from one that says Hanakazu. If you’ve got zero ideas on what to get there, don’t be afraid to ask the folks of Magnum Opus for a recommendation or what they have off-menu. It’s an estimate 300-500PHP per person for a pairing of coffee and a food item (they have more than just desserts there!)
Check them out on instagram @magnumopusfc, and their Facebook page, and if you’ve got any questions or suggestions for events, coffee tastings, conferences, you can talk to them directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.