by Angel Y. Gamba
Café Buchie recently opened in Physical Science at UPLB just this May 23, 2023. The café owner, Thea Camille Aquino or mostly called as Elle is an alumnus of University of the Philippines Los Banos who studied BA Sociology. Who decided to open her own business due to the effects that the pandemic has brought us, especially to our mental health. Elle mentioned that when the pandemic hit, she was working in Manila and that she was far away from her family who lives in Laguna. And the pandemic gave her a time to pause and reflect about spending time with her family and friends.
“Parang work, work, work, work, work lang yung nasa utak, nasa isip ko so parang, parang naisip ko na maybe yung pandemic yung nagbigay ng parang kahit na maraming masamang effect yung pandemic parang nagbigay siya ng idea na uy mag pause ka, magspend time ka sa family ganyan and friends ganyan so sabi ko ok so ma- survive ko lang tong pandemic na to, uuwi na ko ng LB.” explained by Elle.
She was able to go back home to Laguna because of health reasons, ulcer, and her company allowed her to work from home. But she still continued with her work and later resigned, which allowed her to finally start and open her own business, the Café Buchie.
The name Buchie came from her childhood nickname which came from her older sister, “so yung ate ko kasi mahilig siya siguro sa di ko sure kung saan niya nakuha yung bucci pero tinawag niya akong Buchie.” Said by Elle. So, when she and her family were thinking about what to name the coffee shop, her mom suggested her nickname, Buchie which her and her sister agreed to.
“Kasi parang wala pa kaming na-encounter na bucci talaga, except dun sa bucci na pagkain sa Chowking so parang, sige na nga, tas parang catchy naman siya tas yun nga may na envision naman ako sa kanyang character, yung naka drawing sa logo na ginawa ng friend ko so sige yon pumayag na akong Café Buchie ang name.” mentioned by Elle.
Café Buchie supports locally freshly made coffee beans from Bukidnon and when asked about why Bukidnon coffee beans, she mentioned that the winning factor of the Bukidnon coffee beans is it tastes less acidic compared to other local coffee beans.”At least sa panlasa ko balanse siya e, hindi siya super acidic pero hindi rin siya yung parang walang acid, acid na walang acid, parang ganon” said by Elle. This was a big factor for her considering that she had ulcer. She also added “so yung Bukidnon yung parang nalasahan ko na perfectly balanced talaga siya tapos siguro personally mahilig ako sa parang or ano withdrawn ako sa lasa ng caramel. may ano kasi siya natural na caramel flavor and berries yung bean especially yung ginagamit kong beans na particulary singular origin kasi yung beans na ginagamit ko ibig sabihin sa isang farm lang akong kumukuha para hindi siya magkaroon ng ibat ibang, ibat ibang factor.”
She had tried different local coffee beans during her travels in the country, the Philippines. According to Elle, visiting local coffee shops and tasting local coffee beans was not really part of her itinerary when travelling it was just a side trips. “Tuwing magtrataravel ako I make it a point na especially kung may local coffee bean farm dun, magtra-try talaga ako, nagsa-side trip talaga ako so part siya ng pagtratravel ko parang without me na inisip ko mag-oopen ako ng coffee shop kasi nga recently ko lang siya naisip pero yon so sa pagtratravel ko, masarap talaga yung mga kape natin actually across naman sa, across the Philippines. Masarap talaga lahat ng kape natin and I can say na pwede talaga natin siya ipangtapat sa mga ibang mga international na beans.” Elle explained.
Café Buchie does not only serve coffee but also food and pastries. For Elle, students deserve to have quality food and drink inside the campus, and they want to treat themselves. “Lalo na kapag long lab, kunwari itong mga, ano ko, mga chemistry students na may lab sila from 7am to 1pm, as in talagang pagdating nila zombie na sila, sabi “kape po”, sabi ko “o sige wait lang”, ganyan. Parang ang point nila is parang ayaw na nila pumunta pa sa labas ng university para bumili ng masarap, satisfying na food kasi pagod na to e, mental exhausted na sila” she explained. Elle emphasized the importance of having quality food and drink that is healthy and also very accessible for the students. She mentioned that her loyal customers who are mostly students from CEAT, CAS and other colleges have expressed that they want more healthy foods inside the campus that is budget friendly. “Dun sa mga estudyante na nagsabi sa akin na talagang dinadayo pa ako, parang sinasabi nila na ok naman yung mga pancit, hotdog, ganyan. but sometimes they want to treat themselves.” She also shared her own experience as a college student studying in UPLB regarding snacks being sold inside the campus. “Kasi nung bata ako, pagkatapos ng klase ko, ang labas ko dun sa halimbawa lang sa BioSci, ewan ko kung naabutan ng freshman or hindi, si Cess basta siya yung may kiosk dun dati, I mean ok naman pero syempre paglabas mo fish ball, I mean ok naman siya, malalamanan yung tyan mo pero hindi siya, wala naman nourish yung product.”
Elle gave many customer interactions she had with the college students or her loyal customers who really expressed that they want healthier food options inside the campus. Which pushes Elle to continue her coffee shop, Café Buchie, in selling healthier food options that is within the budget of the students.
Café Buchie does not only support local products, gives healthier food options to the students but it also advocates helping cats. Elle mentioned that she is a cat lover because of her father, “Kahit noon pa, high school, college, mahilig na kasi talaga ako sa animals tas particularly sa mga cats pero, oo cats, dun na muna tayo magstart, sa cats. So parang yung tatay ko kasi mahilig siya mag rescue ng mga hayop, so parang, so parang na ano ko sa kanya na kailangan yung mga animals hindi sila pinapabayaan kasi yung tatay ko talaga as in pag may nakita siya dyan na pusa nasa kalsada, pipick niya yan tas aalagaan niya tas hahanapan niya ng mag aano, mag aampon. So parang, so bata pa ako non, so lumaki ako na, lumaki ako na okay parang meron akong, nakuha ko yung ganong idea sa tatay ko na, kasi sa point kasi ng tatay ko – masyadong vulnerable yung mga animals, parang unlike human na, vulnerable din naman tayo pero parang may way pa rin tayo para mabuhay, magsurvive. Yung mga cats and dogs they can survive pero alam mo yun sa society na meron tayo ngayon lumiliit pa yung chansa ng kanilang pag survive so yung tatay ko he taught me na to be kind and loving sa mga animals.” She added that she was able to carry this characteristic until college and up to now. That is why she decided to partner or have a collaboration with Cats of UPLB. She said that she likes the initiatives of Cats of UPLB and wants to help and donate monthly to them. She also added that she is looking forward to having more collaborations, partnerships or projects with organizations that focus on animals like PAWS, or even small organizations within Los Banos.
During my interview with her, I could really feel that opening her business, her own coffee shop, is a dream come true for Elle. You can see that she is so passionate about what she is doing right now. With supporting local coffee beans, selling healthier food for the students, and supporting animal organizations. All of this she is able to do because of Café Buchie.
Cafe Buchie’s tagline is “It’s not just a drink, it’s a lifestyle” Café Buchie is not just a coffee shop business, it is a lifestyle in which you can support the students, the local farmers, and animals. So why not try buying your next coffee in Café Buchie whenever you are in Los Banos. It is open every Tuesday to Friday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. But be early because usually by 5:00 pm, all of their food and drinks are sold out. Hoping to see you drinking coffee from Café Buchie!