Coffee & Serendipity Photo Journal #3: CBTL ~ The Peak, Gaisano Mall, Davao City

I love coffee but not all coffee shops that offer even the best cups appeal to me. Paying for a good cup of coffee is all about the experience for me. If I’m going to pay extra for coffee that I can prepare on my own, it has to be somewhere I can thoroughly enjoy. And that could be just about anywhere since I don’t usually look for anything more than my usual caffè americano, latte, or mocha fixes.

Davao has its share of good local coffee shops and a growing number of popular international chains. So far I’ve been to the Starbucks branches located at two different malls. I’ve also visited the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores at three of the city’s major malls. Most of both international brands’ branches are frequently packed with people. Finding a table, much less one that you like, is often a hardship once the peak hours begin. Like most coffee shops, these places have taken on a meeting-studying-working spaces look and feel.

The best times I’ve had in some of these coffee shops are in the mornings soon after opening time. So far, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at The Peak in Gaisano Mall is easily one of the best in providing the ambiance for a quiet and relaxing experience. While I’ve seen it packed with people at mid-day until evening, it’s usually not crowded during the early hours. The sense of solitude as well as good coffee, music, and food are the foremost reasons I keep coming back.

Here are some photos taken from previous visits.

CBTL, The Peak interiors during a morning visit
One morning at CBTL, The Peak
Caffè latte. I forgot the name of the cake. The barista just recommended it.
Caffè latte. I forgot the name of the cake. The barista just recommended it.
My favorite lemon square. For drinks, I tried the Tropical Smoothie.
My favorite lemon square. For drinks, I tried the Tropical Smoothie.
Caffè latte and a slice of triple chocolate mousse
Caffè latte and a slice of triple chocolate mousse
Iced caffè latte in soymilk and a new favorite - cranberry biscotti
Iced caffè latte in soymilk and a new favorite – cranberry biscotti
Delectable treats
Delectable treats
Outside seating
Outside seating
Because they have a clean, fresh-looking and -smelling restroom with toilet paper and handwash, which is often one of the neglected customer loyalty pull factors. Although I have to say I've never been in it during peak hours so I'm not sure if they're able to keep it as clean as this.
Because they have a clean, fresh-looking and -smelling restroom with toilet paper and handsoap, which is often one of the neglected customer loyalty pull factors. Although I have to say I’ve never been in it during peak hours so I’m not sure if they’re able to keep it as clean as this.

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Related posts:
Coffee & Serendipity Photo Journal #2: Ryuma Coffee Shop ~ Davao City
Coffee & Serendipity Photo Journal #1: Can-More ~ Chungju

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Finding Happy

01.16.2014 “Writing is closer to thinking than speaking.” ~new notebooks with my QOTD, a pen, iced cafe latte with soymilk, cranberry biscotti (which was good as the barista said it would be), a quiet coffee shop, my favorite spot, and the wait to watch 47 Ronin = happiness ~

What makes a good day? Nothing much, really. You just have to be fully present in the series of moments that unfold. Some so fleeting that they could escape you if you get distracted.

The best events in life sometimes escape us when we are brimming with so many things that we hold on to. To make a good day is to empty ourselves before we set out.

Maybe the best way to start is to consciously let go of what preoccupies our minds and hearts. Spend a brief moment to revisit what was – relive them, appreciate them, and leave them behind. Both the good and the bad. Every single day, we let go. Only then we become more prepared to embrace the happiness that awaits us.

Everyday Scenes Photo Journal #1: Seoulful Wanderings of a Seouler

A less than a day sightseeing in Seoul in spring of 2012 left me wanting for more. It’s one city I’d like to visit again for more leisurely wanderings. Thanks to a phone app, my friend who went out of her way to let me see as much as I can in that brief time I was there has found a way for me to enjoy more of Seoul from her eyes. I always find that the captured everyday scenes of the mundane, simple, funny, sad, cheerful, profound, extraordinary, beautiful, and everything else in between are unfailingly delightful and fascinating.

The thing about signs. Looking from a graphic designer's perspective. (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
The thing about signs. Looking from a graphic designer’s perspective. (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Meanwhile, in a restaurant somewhere... (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Meanwhile, in a restaurant somewhere… (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
A kid at the fountain (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
A kid at the fountain (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Subway delights (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Subway delights (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Brothers walking to school (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
Brothers walking to school (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicencio)
A blanket of snow (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicenio)
A blanket of snow (photo credit: Bealuz Villavicenio)

A Time to Read: My 2013 Reading List

At least one book per month. That’s my reading goal for 2013. And to do that, I need to come up with a list. A necessary precaution since I do have this habit of rereading a few of my favorites.

I ended up buying my first read for the year when I strayed to the bookstore earlier today. I’m happy that my first reading pick is already showing great promise.

First read for 2013. With a notebook and pen on the side for some reviewing and preparing for next week’s work. ~ at my favorite spot at Ryuma cafe

My Reading List

  • 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
  • A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
  • Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen
  • If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Ital Calvino
  • Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing – Margaret Atwood
  • No One’s Perfect – Hirotada Ototake
  • NW – Zadie Smith
  • The Beautiful Mystery – Louise Penny
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  • The Columbus Affair – Steve Berry
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver

*The latest Sigma Series installment (if any) by James Rollins.

And for the annual rereads…because it’s tradition:

  • The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  • All three LOTR books – JRR Tolkien

It’s going to be a fun year of reading. Bring it!

Coffee & Serendipity Photo Journal #2: Ryuma Coffee Shop ~ Davao City

One Saturday a few weeks ago, my sister and I decided to try the Korean restaurant which was nearer to our place. The food was good. Some were even better than those served in a go-to Korean place we’ve tried the previous week.

After finishing our meal, my sister insisted on checking out some stuff in a Japanese grocery store located a few meters away from the restaurant. It was then that we noticed a coffee place two or three shops down.

From the outside, there was nothing that suggested that Davao City‘s Ryuma Coffee Shop was any different from the many other cafes strewn around town. The only thing that really captured my attention was the signage saying it’s a Japanese coffee shop. Since I’m addicted to anything Japanese, it didn’t take long for my sister to convince me to check out the place.

Coffee wasn’t part of that Saturday’s plans, but I figured I could make room for a Japanese coffee shop experience.

The coffee shop’s second floor lounge ~ loved how it was quiet and cozy. A good place to spend some time alone or with family and friends.
Our corner table
Sister, mirror, and some Japanese books. There were also a few manga titles right next to the counter on the first floor.
One of the many decors
And these too
Ebony and ivory ~ a reversal of roles
Seeing my sister’s Strawberry Ice Cream Shake almost made me regret why I didn’t order the chocolate. My Kilimanjaro coffee looked kind of sad next to her strawberry shake and pudding.
Tasted as good as they looked
Kilimanjaro coffee served with milk and brown sugar crystals on the side

There was something about Ryuma coffee shop that got me during that visit. Maybe it was the curious mix of richness and simplicity. Whatever else that’s brewing there, the delightful blend of coffee and serendipity was more than enough for me.

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Updates: (photos added)

Choices of reads at the first floor of the coffee shop
View from a couch
Coffee jelly
Blue Mountain coffee served with milk and white sugar crystals (I prefer the brown sugar crystals though)

Coffee & Serendipity Photo Journal #1: Can-More ~ Chungju

Coffee shops. They’re like, everywhere. With so many cafes ran by popular international brands to local owners, there’s bound to be some place anywhere in the world that promises both a delicious brew and the ambiance that suits different tastes.

Finding can-more was a happy accident for us a few months ago. Located at the third floor of a building somewhere in the heart of Chungju, South Korea, it was unlike any other coffee places I’ve seen in the past. Quaint and relaxing, I imagine spending (rainy) days with a good book and a steaming mug of coffee or tea in there.

The building that houses a quaint coffee shop.
Outside, looking up
Surprised by the unexpected
Tabletop menu
Shades of blue in a roomful of pink
Coffee and company

Can-more, a simple yet perfect blend of coffee and serendipity.