You Don't Need a Passport to Have Real Italian Coffee at Café Barbera
Have your coffee as the Italians do.
G/F Uptown Parade, Uptown Bonifacio
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) If you can’t start the day without a shot of espresso, then you have the Italians to thank. In Italy, drinking coffee isn’t simply routine—it’s a huge part of their culture. And they don’t have their brew quite like how the rest of the world does. Curious, yet? You don’t have to save up for a plane ticket to Rome to have coffee the way the Italians do. Café Barbera is an Italian-based coffee franchise, and they’re bringing their unique café experience to Manila with their first branch at Uptown Parade.
There’s no question that the Barbera family are masters when it comes to coffee—they’ve been roasting beans since 1870, with founder Domenico Barbera first serving his own unique blend on the streets of Naples. Several centuries later, the torch has been passed on to sixth generation owner Enrico Barbera Jr., who manages operations of their global franchise.
Still, while they have certainly grown far larger than their humble beginnings, Café Barbera stays true to their roots. “We are one of the few companies that didn’t adapt in the sense that we don’t use automatic machines to roast our beans, we don’t put all the syrups everyone else does.” says Enrico. “In our place, you can really still taste the flavor of the coffee. You would see it, you would smell it, and the way we prepare it is the exact same way I would prepare a coffee for you in Naples.” The beans, for one, are still hand-roasted in Naples before being shipped all over the world monthly. Enrico emphasizes that for Café Barbera, they are more concerned with quality over quantity.
Beyond coffee, Café Barbera also wants to share the Italian café experience to the rest of the world. The space itself, elegantly romantic with wood-heavy décor, is the same as the other branches of Café Barbera worldwide. “We always have the same exact bar counter,” says Enrico. “The logo is the same, the art is the same.” Likewise, the menu is loyal to the original, which is, according to Enrico, “90% standard,” with the team only adding a few local pastries. But it’s the same list of Italian signatures: espresso, cappuccino, mocaccino, and more.
“The way Italians drink their coffee is quite different from the way people all over the world do it,” Enrico shares. “For the cappuccino for example, we are used to smaller cups and the milk isn’t as hot as what everyone’s drinking outside of Italy.” So if you like your coffee boiling hot, you may want to look somewhere else—though a sip of Café Barbera’s Cappuccino Italiano (P135/eight ounces, P150/12 ounces, P165/16 ounces). may just persuade you to change your coffee habits. Milk that has just the right warmth lets you savor the rich dark chocolate-like flavor of Café Barbera’s signature blend. For something to help you cool down, you can get the Cappuccino Frappe (P125/eight ounces, P135/12 ounces, P145/16 ounces), which has espresso blended with milk and ice.
If you want a good jolt of caffeine to start your day, have the Brasiliano (P120/one ounce, P135/two ounces). Take your time to appreciate the beautifully layered shot of espresso, condensed milk, and foam, then stir it all up to get the full rich cacao-like flavor with notes of creamy sweetness.
Even with a deliciously sweet whipped cream blended with the distinct char of caramel, the rich dark flavor of the coffee still shines through in the Freddicino Caramel (P150/eight ounces, P160/12 ounces, P170/16 ounces). Fans of Nutella on the other hand will enjoy the Nutelloto (P195/eight ounces, P215/12 ounces), with a blend of Nutella, coffee, whipped cream, and cocoa powder. Still, as with all of Café Barbera’s drinks, the coffee continues to be the star in this drink.
Polpette Fritte Napoletane
Of course, would an Italian chain be complete without pasta? Café Barbera offers a short but excellent menu that includes a classic Spaghetti Bolognese (P285), overloaded with peppery beef, and the light and earthy Fettuccini Funghi (P285), with a cream-based sauce and lots of mushrooms. If you’re up for something heftier, the Polpette Fritte Napoletane (P315/without pasta, P365/with pasta) won’t disappoint, which is a giant beef meatball covered in a tangy tomato sauce and tomato chunks.
The Café Barbera experience isn’t quite like your usual coffee run, but if you appreciate and enjoy the full-bodied flavor of excellently-roasted coffee, then you’ll find it easy to make a switch to this new café. Looks like you don’t have to be in Italy to drink coffee like an Italian.
Photos by Ian Santos