Fil-Am coffee biz named micro roaster of the year

Mostra Coffee’s Bibingka Creme Brulee Latte uses Philippine specialty coffee in the espresso blend with the barista using a brulee torch to caramelize granulated brown sugar, giving the mouthfeel of eating a creme brulee dessert, then finishes it off by sprinkling bibingka bits. | Photo courtesy of Mostra Coffee

A Filipino American-owned coffee company in San Diego, California has received a prestigious honor as the best micro roaster in the United States for 2020.

Mostra Coffee, which was founded in 2013, was named ‘Micro Roaster of the Year‘ by Roast Magazine with a total output of 65,000 pounds of roasted coffee annually.

Each year, the coffee-centered magazine awards two Roasters of the Year that “roast coffees of superior quality, exemplify a dedication to sustainability, promote employee and community education, and demonstrate a strong commitment to the coffee industry, among other criteria.”

Mostra Owners Beverly Magtanong, Sam Magtanong, Jelynn Malone, and Mike Arquines | Photo by Cindy Kyle

Founded by a group of four friends — Beverly Magtanong, Jelynn Malone, Mike Arquines, Sam Magtanong — Mostra became their mission to put the Philippines on the map as a source of specialty-grade coffee beans. After doing philanthropy work with Gawad Kalinga in the country, they saw it as a way to eradicate poverty by working with Filipino farmers through fair-trade and direct-trade practices.

Mostra, the Italian word for ‘show’ or ‘exhibition,’ comes from taking Malone (a film and TV actress/host) and Magtanong’s (professional opera singer) performance backgrounds and translating it into a business. 

What started off as a coffee roasting facility and a humble coffee cart soon became a brick and mortar in the spring of 2018 along Carmel Mountain Road.

It is since drawn attention for its experimental drinks, such as the choconana (house-made banana milk mixed with Brazil cold brew) and the Bibingka Créme Brûlée latte (inspired by the Filipino dessert with coconut-infused whole milk and coconut powder).

Inside Mostra Coffee in San Diego | Photo by Brandon Joseph

The latter drink inspired a craft brewery coffee beer collaboration, the Bibingka Creme Brulee Latte Stout, brewed in collaboration with J. Wakefield Brewing in Miami, LIFExLLAB Lifestyle brand, and Mostra Coffee. Utilizing Philippine specialty coffee from Sitio Belis, Benguet, and brewed in celebration of Mostra’s 5th Anniversary Celebration, this limited Coffee Stout was reportedly one of the most highly-sought craft beers released in 2018.

In addition to its collaborations (over 600 unique craft coffee beers to date), Mostra has made a name for itself in the community through an entrepreneurial for-credit internship program with local colleges, pop-ups events and philanthropic efforts.

The award isn’t just the most exciting news for Mostra for the rest of the year. The company recently unveiled the “Mostra Experience,” a coffee subscription program that will bring their coffees nationwide. A second location is set to open this December in the 4S Ranch Community of San Diego, as well as the release of a line of instant craft coffee.

“Mostra was inspired and born from philanthropy work. We intended to give back and help people, so we did something that came from a true and honest, unselfish place. Beyond just creating opportunities for the Filipino people in the Philippines, we wanted to help create opportunities for our own families,” Malone told the Asian Journal in 2018. “We wanted to create opportunities in our local community like creating jobs. When the intentions are true and good and you are passionate and fulfilled with what you do, then working every day is exciting.”

Coffee By Design, headquartered in Portland, Maine, took the top prize for Macro Roaster of the Year, with an output of 650,000 pounds of roasted coffee per year.

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