There’s a full cast of real characters at Narrative Coffee Company
They’re taking the name literally, and that’s a good thing
- Narrative Coffee Company
- Unit 1C, Alpha Salcedo Condominium, Salcedo Village, Makati City
- Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There’s something unforgettable about that one cup of coffee (to-go), from more than half a year ago. No, there wasn’t anything inside the cup that shouldn’t have been there. But there was something about what was on the cup itself: Happy weekend! 🙂 written in a halfway decent scrawl.
Normally I wouldn’t pay it any mind, but after having (unwillingly) made small talk at the counter, reading the “personalized message” on my paper cup made me scratch my head. How can I celebrate the weekend that early in the morning? And when I just mentioned I was going to have a long day at work that Friday?
Instances like these make me doubt the authenticity of people’s interest in others’ stories. Are you really interested in how their day is going, or are you just asking for the sake of small talk, or in the guise of connecting with your customers?
Not all of these stranger-to-stranger interactions often end favorably. Luckily for Christine and Trent Rollings though, their encounter with one of Edsa Beverage Design Group (Edsa-BDG)’s baristas went deeper and far beyond the transaction. “She ended up sitting down with us and asking us questions about ourselves, our lives, how we ended up there, and we asked her questions too. We built a friendship,” Christine, co-founder of the Narrative Coffee Company shares. “She was key in us realizing something really important about coffee shops. They bring people together around stories of our lives and of the coffee.”
Designed as a place where stories can intersect and people can interact, Narrative Coffee Company stands at the entrance of The Office Project Co-working Studio, within easy view of the space’s transient workers. As it stands today, the Narrative Coffee Company is a small-batch, specialty coffee bar, with only three types of coffee and tea each on the regular menu, along with a couple of craft sodas by COO, and some artisanal chocolate bars.
Narrative’s counter—a wood and metal brew bar reminiscent of actual crates used to transport coffee—is one of its two fixtures at The Office Project. Here, their baristas (which includes pretty much everyone on the team, from intern to business development, and even to the owners themselves) make the day’s brews, and unlike other shops with machines, bottles, cups, and other items towering over the bar, in Narrative, you can watch the entire process done right in front of you.
It starts with choosing the beans: their standard beans are the Benguet, Belis, roasted by Kalsada Coffee, the Honduras, El Manzano, roasted by YKW Roasters, and the Ethiopia, Kochere (Yirgacheffe) beans roasted by Fika Fika Cafe in Taiwan. Aside from these three, Narrative also has a so-called “secret stash” or “guest beans” that they get from roasters outside their main suppliers. Sometimes beans also given to them by friends and patrons who go on trips abroad.
With the ever-changing list of guest beans, Narrative sees quite a number of coffee connoisseurs visiting. That’s what’s good about not needing a big supply of beans to operate, says Narrative business developer David Disuanco. “They’re excited to come here since some of the beans we have aren’t available elsewhere.”
True to its name, Narrative takes pride in telling and listening to stories. “The fun part is getting to talk to people we don’t know and learning more about them,” Disuanco says. “We get to know more about their work and how their day is, and even more when they become regulars. It’s also fun talking to other coffee connoisseurs, since we get to ask stuff like, what’s their favorite coffee spots in other places or countries. We start to have a common ground.”
The easiness with which the Narrative team could connect with their customers is quite curious. Were there any techniques or lessons involved? Not really, Disuanco says. “It’s not just about talking to people; it’s important to be comfortable,” he says. “We don’t want to force [our baristas] to follow a particular style. We want them to be natural, to approach the person the way they want.”
Try their specialty coffee, like the Honduras which has an almost nutty flavor, or the Ethiopia, which has a fruity aftertaste. The baristas are more than willing to talk to you about the coffee and a myriad of other topics. If you’re looking for space to work, you can also pay a fee to use all of The Office Project’s facilities.
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