When something extraordinary rises in the middle of a dreary landscape, it can either:
a. Blossom in the beginning, fade slowly in the end, and do nothing to change the dreariness of the landscape
b. Bring color to everything drab about the landscape and take it to new heights
You see, there’s a big risk that comes with the opening of a business in a province, especially in Bago, a quiet and peaceful city about 30 minutes south of the Negros Occidental capital, Bacolod.
First of all, there are no Angkor Wats in Bago that could attract a huge number of tourists. It’s a place where every street seems to be so serene, except on major holidays. It doesn’t even have its own McDonalds. Second, the attempt to penetrate into the norm can either excite or rattle the locals. There’s a rustic leisure of sipping a 6-peso cup of coffee under the trees that may be hard to topple because “if I do it there everyday, why the hell should I go some place else?”
There is no doubt that Saffron Brew is an audacious undertaking. But will its relaxing and inviting ambiance, plus its extensive menu list that explodes with great-tasting coffee, stand the test of time or…to put it locally…stand the test of that 6-peso-under-the-tree-coffee that already equates to “the way of life” for most?
The first time I entered Saffron Brew, I already felt that it had a lot of potential. It’s a coffee shop that is both a treat not only for the coffee lovers but also for visitors who simply want to enjoy a morning or afternoon snack in a homely ambiance far from the honking of cars or the bustling city of Bacolod. The place has Buddhist-inspired bas reliefs, paintings, and artifacts from different Asian nations such as Nepal and Tibet. It’s like The Coffee Bean meets Chiang Mai meets Eat Pray Love Bali.
The owner, who works for the Red Cross, is an avid collector of antiques and furniture. His travels inspire every nook and corner of the shop that exudes serenity and exoticness.
The menu is inspiring and for the standards of city dwellers such as me, the price is actually cheap. It has a strong list of espressos and other brewed cups. But it also gives visitors a taste of local delights such as suman latik.
It does need a little boost when it comes to service. The waiters were not too familiar with the menu items, and I had to guess the name of the cake that was displayed on the bar area. It was delicious though, an absolute joy to my sweet tooth. I’m perfectly sure that expansion in terms of the menu is already in the works. But simple cravings of morning coffee or an afternoon merienda can already be satisfied.
In Bago, where the air is as warm and tranquil as its streets, the rise of this coffee shop is icing on the already sweet gestures of the people. But we go back to the question of how long it will last.
I cannot predict its longevity, but I personally hope that Saffron Brew will bring Bago City to new heights. I’m not talking about luring hundreds of backpackers to visit Bago, but to let the world know that there exists a beautiful city south of Bacolod and it’s not as dead as you think. As long as it continues to serve delicious coffee that can rival the big guns, improve its customer relations, and have more enjoyable bites, it can be a pit stop or a hangout for Negrenses and visitors to make them discover Bago City more.
Besides, the locals should not be deprived of the goodness of life whether in the form of a good cup of espresso or a slice of cake.
It’s time for a change.
#56 Lopez Jaena St.
Bago City, Negros Occidental
Opens Monday – Saturdays
8am – 5pm