Some Like It Hot

The decade of the Fifties signaled the rise of consumerism in the United States – the Diners Club credit card was introduced, the first commercial color TV program was broadcast, Hugh Hefner published Playboy magazine, LEGO toy bricks debuted, and Ray Kroc opened McDonald’s.  And in Manila, the post-war relief efforts precipitated a new period of prosperity, as financial rehabilitation from the US sought to revitalize a ruined and devastated capital.  Amidst this economic boom, and well before Starbucks, Costa, Tim Hortons and artisanal third-wave cafes broke ground (and certainly at a time when drinkers liked their coffee hot), Commonwealth Foods, Inc. launched the unique “brewed coffee taste” of its Cafe Puro roasted ground coffee.

And so, walking into the Comfoods offices in Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati last week was like travelling back in time to this bygone era.  From the reception area to the jalousied hallway panels to the old-fashioned Underwood typewriter and the vintage coffee percolator-turned-water pitcher, the circa-1960 building brought back memories of Cafe Puro, Cafe Bueno, Cafe Excelente and Le Cafe, the dominant brands of what was then the largest coffee processor in the Far East. It was difficult to imagine how a low-keyed family occupying a modest and unostentatious establishment was a leading pioneer in the coffee trade.

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