• Finding ‘Marcel’ in Manila

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    Coffee entrepreneur and expert Marcel Ruggieri is excited to bring his brand of specialty coffee to Filipinos

    Coffee entrepreneur and expert Marcel Ruggieri is excited to bring his brand of specialty coffee to Filipinos

    Australian specialty coffee company enters Philippine market

    Coffee drinkers, lovers and addicts alike are in for exciting times as the third coffee wave in the country continues this 2016.

    Besides Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, as well as homegrown brands, Figaro and Bo’s Coffee, among others, the entry of specialty coffee brands from Melbourne—the Australian city known for its top grade coffee beans and blends—have now entered the local brewing market.

    Where’s Marcel?, is the latest coffee specialty company to set up shop in the Philippines, whose franchise-holder here is the Cravings Group.

    Launched via an informative workshop on different brewing methods and latte art, no less than the brand’s founder Marcel Ruggieri welcomed guests to the first Where’s Marcel? signature café along Pearl Drive in Ortigas, Pasig City. Joining him were renowned Filipino chefs Sau del Rosario and Christine Paredes, who created a menu of delectable dishes and desserts, respectively, to go with the coffee brand’s brew.

    Marcel Ruggieri with Badjie Trinidad, Cravings Group CEO, partner Vilma D’Aprano, flanked by chefs Christine Paredes and Sau del Rosario

    Marcel Ruggieri with Badjie Trinidad, Cravings Group CEO, partner Vilma D’Aprano, flanked by chefs Christine Paredes and Sau del Rosario

    “We are excited to be in the Philippines because culturally, Filipinos are very embracing and welcoming. You also have beautiful values. But more importantly, Filipinos are excited about this specialty concept and coffee culture. I think now is a fantastic opportunity [to be here],” Rugierri said in his speech.

    He further expressed confidence in the market when he talked about a “coffee evolution” that is taking place in the Philippines now.

    “Thanks to social media, we found out what’s going on here within seconds,” Rugierrie commented. “And we have observed that the way business is done in the Philippines, there is much camaraderie.”

    He continued, “The market leaders [in specialty coffee]apparently don’t compete but actually support each other to lift the industry together. For example, last night we saw a local specialty roaster’s competition organized by Yardstick Coffee in Makati City.”

    As to what Filipinos can expect from Where’s Marcel? in return, Rugierri first shared the beginnings of his titular company.

    Intricate latte art

    Intricate latte art

    According to him, it started when he, along with partners that included Philip di Bella [the man behind Di Bella Coffee, which was the first Melbourne-based company to enter the Philippines], went to coffee farms in Brazil. During those trips, he got lost, not once but twice.

    He recalled, “‘Where’s Marcel?’ became our rolling joke in those few weeks. When we returned to Australia to begin implementing our system and purchases, we thought, why don’t we name the company Where’s Marcel?.”

    Rugierri also related that his coffee brand is anchored on a “crop to cup” principle. He explained, “It encapsulates direct purchase [of coffee crops]from the farmers to ensure that we have stability, [all the while]assisting them to produce better products. All these translate to the cup—meaning the final experience, which is for the consumer.”

    As such, Rugierri assured that Filipinos could expect the authentic Melbourne coffee culture with the presence of Where’s Marcel?, especially since this is his first venture outside his hometown.

    “When you enter an establishment in Melbourne, you will not just be greeted by a coin phrase, ‘Hello! Welcome, sir.’ It’s much more personalized than that with us. The staff is trained to understand a customer’s energy and interaction.”

    Since the café’s official opening, its Filipino baristas have indeed provided a complete Where’s Marcel? experience that begins with choosing the perfect blend suited for each customer.

    Besides beverages, Where’s Marcel also offers traditional Australian dishes, which of course includes muesli

    Besides beverages, Where’s Marcel also offers traditional Australian dishes, which of course includes muesli

    “We currently have two blends. Culture is the lighter roast, while Evolve is the darker blend. Generally, Culture is what we use for black coffee, and Evolve is for our milk-based blends,” Rugierri noted.

    The brewing method comes next, and at Where’s Marcel? it varies from the common batch brew to the intricate Aero Press, among others.

    Besides coffee, the café also serves an Australian menu including desserts, pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. Choices include Rueben Sandwich, Nicoise Salad, and Pumpkin Soup by Chef del Rosario, as well as Paredes’ Muesli and Rolled French Toast, among others.

    Now in full throttle, Ruggieri can sees better days ahead for Where’s Marcel? in the Philippines.

    “With companies like us Where’s Marcel? entering the market, and local companies like Yardstick setting up, we can set a new standard which is not just for Manila but for the whole world. With that comes a particular demand for more specialty coffee,” he concluded.

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