Dining in the food park can relieve you of stress
Imagine yourself holding a cup of freshly brewed coffee while the sun rises. You take a gentle sip and catch a whiff of the addicting roasted aroma of the coffee that blends nicely with the fresh air, the rays of light illuminating the panoramic golden rice field and rolling mountains beneath a clear blue sky and cotton clouds backdrop. All the while, you hear the calming aeolian sound of the wind harmonizing with the chirping of birds and whirring of insects as you witness the rice crops dancing. Isn’t that relaxing? Imagine it no more because you can experience that at Ag.KAPI.ta.
Ag.KAPI.ta, which means “Let’s have coffee” in the Ilocano language, is a coffee shop built in the middle of a rice field along Kalikasan Road in Mangatarem, Pangasinan. It’s a dream-come-true business for coffee lovers Mawi Rillorta and Rozellemae Benedito. “We really aimed to build the alfresco dining here (rice field) because the ambiance is so relaxing, perfect to keep our mind healthy amidst the pandemic,” Mawi told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.
According to the couple, the concept of the café was inspired by the minimalist outdoor coffee shop they enjoyed visiting while in Japan. And they really want Pilipinos to have the same unique experience they had.
Before you get to the quaint café, you’ll have to walk on a 120-meter bamboo pathway with a bamboo arc tunnel-like upon the entrance, a perfect spot to start your photo for Instagram, especially in seasons when the path is accentuated by flourishing rice plants.
Also, other Instagrammable spots are the twin wooden swing, hanging rope bed, and the view deck where you can see the beautiful landscape of mountains and rice field along Daang Kalikasan (Nature Road) that link Magtarem, Pangasinan and Sta.Cruz, Zambales.
But there’s more in Ag.KAPI.ta than picturesque views because their food and beverages are also worth your time. In fact, aside from regular types of coffee, the café offers a unique ice-cold coffee called Barista Blends, which is not on the menu.
Mawi, who’s a former waiter in the Sofitel Spiral buffet restaurant where he learned coffee making, thought of Barista Blends to challenge diners to try his own coffee concoction or to come up with their preferred mixture from the available ingredients. So far, the cafe Americano over iced with chocolate mocha and green tea fusion combined with organic matcha are two of the blends Mawi created that received good feedback.
Highly recommended too are their homemade ice cream cakes: tiramisu and cookies and cream from Shawie Bake (a bakeshop owned by Mawi’s mother). Equally delicious to them is Rozellemae’s ube ice cream cake, which uses Baguio’s Good Shepherds’ ube.
The couple said that they also aim to support local products. That’s why you can try Arabica coffee from Benguet, Kalinga, and Sagada from their french press menu. Moreover, they also serve Tita Lea’s Kutsinta and Vizco’s strawberry shortcake from Baguio.
But apart from boosting local delicacies, they also opened their space for young entrepreneurs to showcase their food specialties in the Kubo booth installed besides their coffee shop. “Because one of our missions is to support young entrep, we gathered them and helped them pursue their business dream here,” Mawi said.
As of the moment, they have eight booths offering different cuisines around the world. They have Filipino all-day-breakfast and pansit miki Abra by AgSILOGta, Italian pasta and Turkish kebab by Echo Slam, Italian pizza and lasagna by Quinnyx, Japanese Takoyaki by Oktoman, Australian sizzling plate by Boss Kitchen, Hong Kong style fried noodles and siomai, Mexican nachos, and Middle East shawarma by DV Food hub, and American burgers, Hungarian sausage, and Korean street food by JBO Food.
“We really want guests to have a food trip here. We’ll make sure that their effort in going and staying here for a while is truly a worthy experience,” ends Mawi.