Caravan Black: Great Coffee + Eats
Have you tried their Nitrogen Cold Brew yet?
Coffee fans know the sounds and smell well: the welcoming gush of steam from the La Marzocco F80 espresso machine being prepped to make a fresh cup; the familiar whirr of the grinder, pushing down coffee grounds into a small cup, instantly filling the room with a sharp whiff of caffeine. It's a good day to have a cup of coffee.
The owners of Caravan Black seem to think so, too. "Coffee has been a love for us since we were growing up-from instant coffee to Starbucks to Seattle's Best-specialty coffee is just another avenue, another option," Caravan Black owner Miguel Rodriguez tells us. Specialty coffee refers to coffee made with beans with unique flavor profiles and is prepared under the premise that the coffee beans are well handled, freshly roasted, and properly brewed.
Caravan Black has two signature blends available at the moment: the Maverick, a Brazilian-Colombian blend; and Gypsy, a blend of Brazilian-Colombian and Philippine coffee.
Caravan Black is a reference to the caravans used to transport coffee beans during the olden days, and is a reminder that before a cup is enjoyed, there is a story that starts from the farmers right down to the barista who handcrafts your choice of caffeine for the day.
One of the newest specialty coffee outposts that has set up shop in Metro Manila this year, Caravan Black knows a thing or two about inviting people to come in, whether you're a coffee fan or just coffee-curious. Wall-to-wall glass windows offer outsiders a peek into the predominantly black-and-white interiors accented by works of local designer and illustrator Dan Matutina. A straightforward list of coffee and food options are listed above the coffee bar. There's a palpable openness and a relaxing vibe about the space, no intimidating air that makes you feel judged even if you feel like just having a Mocha.
"It all started because we loved coffee and nothing makes us feel better than to serve a good cup or a good meal," says Caravan Black owner Miguel Rodriguez.
"It all started because we loved coffee and nothing makes us feel better than to serve a good cup or a good meal or when you see the customers smile or give a little nod to say, 'Okay, this was good.' That's the ultimate satisfaction for us," Rodriguez admits.
Caravan Black has two signature blends available at the moment: the Maverick, a Brazilian-Colombian blend; and Gypsy, a blend of Brazilian-Colombian and Philippine coffee. He adds though that "for specialty coffee in general, most of the beans are seasonal so whatever you're taking now in November, if you come back around April or May, it'll probably be different. And that's the fun part of specialty coffee because most of the beans are all seasonal and you don't know what you're gonna get. And that's the exciting part."
The Nitro Cold Brew is smooth, with chocolate and caramel notes, and dangerously easy to drink.
For more adventurous coffee fans, Caravan Black now offers Nitro Cold Brew. Nitrogen is infused into cold brew coffee and is served in a pilsner glass. It's like "drinking beer or drinking alcohol but it's completely coffee. It will give you a creamy mouthfeel. It lessens the acidity in terms of taste and it really brings out the taste in coffee once you infuse nitrogen. You can just close your eyes and it'll feel like you're drinking like a Guinness but you're not, really. It's just pure coffee," he says.
It's smooth, with chocolate and caramel notes, and dangerously easy to drink. "You don't need to be a connoisseur to appreciate it," Rodriguez reminds us.
The Gooey Cheese Melt (left) is made with sharp and white cheedar, Havarti, and guava jelly. The Hot Turkey Sandwich (right) is a filling option for those who opt to stay for a heftier meal.
That thought resonates with us, even after a second trip to Caravan Black. Everything-from their standard coffee menu or the food curated by their good friend Chiloy Santos of Kettle and Fireside-is meant to be simply enjoyed.
The croissant and kaya (left) has kaya jam made in-house. The Salted Caramel Mini Pancakes (right) are a sweet accompaniment to your coffee cup.
"We're sort of blurring the lines wherein you can get anyone to come into the coffee shop-whether you're the CEO, president, or anyone in the roster-it's all equal footing here, in this space. Everyone is just enjoying coffee. And I think that's what we've always wanted to do from the start."