This is one cool place in town where they take very seriously how they produce good food and good coffee and provide a space for collaborations and creativity. Have you been to Refuge Café already?
The café, located at Lao Building along the blooming food strip of Abad Santos Street, was born out of the need find a place to hone creativity and skills of local talents where good food and coffee is served. One of the owners, Charmaine Ladot, then invited friends to collaborate to turn the idea into reality.
“We wanted a place where one can escape from the hustles and bustles of life, read some books, reflect in the silence of rustic but homey atmosphere or converge with friends for an intimate gathering. We wanted to create a refuge for everyone,” Charmaine said in a casual talk over coffee. Hence, the name Refuge Café.
The menu was conceptualized by the lead woman herself being part of a family of bakers and culinary experts. With a clear picture in mind, the team now joined by Julz, Choi and Ariel proceeded to bring us Refuge Café, now more known as the creativity, pasta and coffee destination in town.
You feel the rustic and homey feel of the café from the moment you step on the front door. Wooden crates-inspired furniture and decors adorn the ground floor. The ground floor can accommodate up to 20 persons at a time. Built to be family friendly, there is a spot for the toddlers and kids too.
The second floor
The second floor can be accessed through the stairs passing a mini gallery reserved for artworks of local artists. The second floor was built to become the convergence area for collaborations and creative gatherings. It can hold up to 25 people at a time. It has hosted some acoustic sessions, coffee appreciation sessions, make-up tutorials, stress management through music and speech workshop.
But wait, there’s more. You should see their conference room too, the main venue for small gatherings with up to 20 people. It has hosted some creative workshops like the 8 weekend-session poetry writing workshop with Poet Sir Generoso Opulencia, some coffee cupping sessions with Mindanao’s best baristas, financial management workshops and trainings sessions with National Government Agencies and private board meetings.
The shrimp and Garlic Pasta is a hit among Refuge Café regulars. The comfort food for pasta lovers seeking for the perfect seafood treat.
Refuge’s versions of the traditional Mexican dish are always requested in the kitchen. Refuge uses quality tortillas and locally-produced spices and vegies for the filling.
Refuge Café is playful when it comes to crepes. They always have something new to share when it comes to crepes so don’t be surprised if they recommend to you something not in the menu. Their version of this thin pastry comes with variety of colorful sweet fillings and garnishing.
Pasta Ala Pobre
Here’s another treat for the pescatarians like me and its one of the most called out from the menu. Savor the spaghetti pasta made tasty with salted egg and Spanish sardines and fragrance of well-sautéed spices all drizzled with fair amount of olive oil. This one’s my personal favorite!
Pasta a la Pobre
Refuge Café crew have their own coffee pledge and it’s written on their polo shirts – #NoToBadCoffee! To stay true to this advocacy, the baristas and crew themselves are regularly updating their coffee skills by attending coffee workshops and sessions to make sure they serve the best brews in town. Right now, the café is highlighting Kulaman beans produced in the highland town of Senator Ninoy Aquino in Sultan Kudarat in their brews.
Refuge’s version of this delight uses the real durian pulp. Although seasonal, it’s always called out of the menu whenever available.
Refuge’s baristas’ version of this espresso based drink topped with milk can sometimes get playful. Check out their latte art on your latte.
Siphon coffee is brewed in front of the customer. Brewing is done through dual chamber made of glass. The bottom chamber is heated for the vapor pressure to force the water to rise into the upper chamber where it mixes with the coffee grounds.
The water is then pulled back down into the lower chamber with the vacuum effect through a filter which then gives you the awaited brewed coffee. This is done and can be explained to you by Refuge’s barista.
Despite the growing number of café’s entering the culinary and coffee line in Koronadal, Refuge Café Still manages to stay in the scene. Asked about their secret, Charmaine said it’s no secret at all. “You just have to have your own brand in terms of place, food, coffee and advocacy.”