Kape : Kimika – where coffee is never too complicated as chemistry
Over a Humble Cup of Coffee – Part 1 I arrived on time to catch the golden rays pouring inside the dainty coffee studio of Kape : Kimika. The opening on the storefront allowed for generous streaks of natural light. And a cinematic view of the light flow of traffic along the road of Palmera Springs. Its white walls are accented with gray brushstroke accents, where a welcoming canvas for an eclectic gallery soon to come, is never stark in appearance. With foliage giving life to the newly birthed space, hovering above and thriving healthily inside.
Hours before the amber sun sinks, I am seated for an insightful talk with the cafe’s very own sir Jim Ducusin. They treated me to a delectable Strawberry toast. Affectionately cradling his camera, he tells me about his passion for producing cinematic features of fellow coffee shops and his love for the coffee craft.
The humble artisan likened coffee to that of a ‘pause button’ amidst the bustle of city life. He regards it as an immediate companion and a confidante. An element of love language, one in which buddies congregate over one affectionate call, ‘tara, kape tayo‘ (Let’s have coffee).
I took in the calm before the bustle. For later in the evening the space would be filled with regulars hanging around. Enjoying their cups under Edison-esque light bulbs, suspended on a slightly high ceiling. But contrary to the stillness of the store, it has one moving start, figuratively and literally.
Coffee on wheels on the starting line
Kape : Kimika previously served coffee on wheels. Along with his cousin, Jim traversed the streets and roads of Caloocan on a thrifted Japanese Bike. His father, equipped with skills in carpentry, crafted and attached the cart to their two-wheel vehicle.
From a small starting capital, the very first cart was built. Jim knew what he wanted to do with his initial budget. He eyed to take home a Japanese bike and later attached it to his father’s scraps of wood and metal parts. For a start, they previously served customers close to where they are currently located.
The second stint accordingly pedaled two carts and they took their ground in Camarin. Switching places, appearing on specific days to establish their presence to their patrons.
Jim visualizes how the cart would sit in streets ergonomically and aesthetically, trusting his gut feeling that it would possibly be a hit. And the second spot in Cielito sure did, until they have to relocate.
Parking the Wheels
He and his cousin took turns pedaling up to SM Fairview but starting anew only sold less than ten cups. Sir Jim knows this slow start too well and chose to just enjoy the ride. This spot would later be where a photo opportunity will be produced,(his cousin resembling a gamer, holding a cup of coffee) reaching a million views on social media. Making their name known as the coffee provider on the streets of Caloocan.
Before finally deciding to park Kimika’s wheels, they also parked inside the neighboring mall, Fairview Terraces mid 2022. After a two-week test of the opportunity, Kape : Kimika made it inside Fairview Terraces’ Central Garden. Their loyal patrons followed their progressing steps, from occupying the streets to finally having a still spot inside a mall. Jim enjoys the honor to grant even the slightest inspiration to them through their story.
The rainy month of May 2022 then pushed Jim to secure an established spot for Kimika, as he continuously thinks of his crew and his patron’s welfare.
The Early Head-start
Like many of us, Jim’s first introduction to coffee is the 3-in-1s sealed in sachets, fuelling his many nights back in high school. But building a coffee shop was never an initial plan. Jim began upping his game prior to the pandemic, starting by buying coffee beans and then visiting one budding cafe to the next.
With time and videography skills in his hands, he documented coffee shops with the aim to compile them on his Facebook Page under the name The Film Brew. He aspires to shed light on these businesses and promote them in his humble platform. After a few visits to diverse shops, he learned a new and fascinating coffee culture, that cups can also be sold outside posh walls and establishments.
Kape : Kimika’s Facebook gallery showcases vibrant and stellar shots taken by the owner himself. He documents the coffee carts in the bustle of the evening, the delightful treats in the making, and the faces of delighted patrons. Scrolling through one will notice how often Jim is absent from the frame, as he always places himself behind the camera.
The name of the two-year-old coffee shop stands in an alliteration that works well either in Filipino or in English (Coffee Chemistry). Like its name, they bridge the duets of concepts. One, is the preciseness of the coffee craft to the naturality and unpredictability of new blends. While there is an exact measure to every brew, Jim recognizes the fun and magic in unexpected outcomes.
He said like the coffee craft he has a tendency to be a perfectionist but he embraces the naturality, allowing space for mistakes.
But unlike its name, their brew is never too complex as rocket science and chemistry. Kape : Kimika intends you to feel at home with their honest brew of coffee. On the shop’s counter sits a manual lever espresso, an embodiment of Jim’s principle to keep things affectionately made by hand.
The Coffee Pop-Up’s Charm
When asked about the unique charm, Jim recognizes their beginning when coffee on wheels remained fairly new to the public. The mobility it provided hinted at Sir Jim that it could be a big hit.
Kape : Kimika also stands among the ones which first introduced manual brewing in Caloocan and a third-wave coffee shop at that.
Jim’s top three picks
Coffee Oreo, Vietnamese Latte, and Spanish Latte make up Sir Jim’s top three picks from the menu. Hailed as their bestsellers, the three stand in their own unique charms. I witnessed their Coffee Oreo recipe development on their Instagram. The finely crushed Oreos blending well in the coffee makes it stand out among other versions.
Vietnamese Coffee, on the other hand, acquires witty comments from its regulars. Its strong shot and slight sweetness possess the capability of keeping a drinker awake for two nights straight, their patrons comment. And, finally, the classic Spanish Latte became a favorite to the usual coffee drinkers. These are just a few treats from their menu, they still have more blends that await you!
Jim makes mentions of fellow third-wave coffee shops he was inspired from. Namely Cafe Elijah, Burnt MNL, Arcana Coffee, Coffee Writer now Espasyo. Their closely-knit bond of fellow shops encourages Bayanihan wherein only one call away, so he can replenish his coffee beans supply in urgent situations from his coffee neighbors.
In terms of the overall vibe of the shop, he wanted to set the color white as the main theme, a bright statement that lit up their coffee carts’ presence before and until now. He was also inspired by Thai and Vietnamese-esque shops he saw upon scrolling on Instagram reels. Where he learned your home can be turned into one, granted with the accessibility of its location.
Jim treats his shop as his canvas, a cup where he pours all his personality and creativity. And, evidently, it shows.
Like how he started, Jim also seeks to give time to visiting fellow shops again, aiming to further hone his skills and to share the platform he possesses by featuring them in his mini-documentaries.
The owner also expresses his appreciation for how the third-wave coffee community helps uplift and support farmers.
Hopes and Dreams
Simplicity at its finest, sir Jim hopes to provide sustenance for himself and his employees. When asked about his hopes and dreams for the shop. He wants his crew to enjoy their stay and would like for coffee to make an impact in their lives.
The coffee shop is seemingly an extension of his life, and Jim wants to keep it this way. He aspires that Kape : Kimika will be remembered by their values and identity. And hopes that their patrons remember that they once shared memories over a humble cup of coffee.
Kape : Kimika’s studio is located parallel to the Villa Algeria Subdivision in Caloocan. You may also visit their Facebook and Instagram pages and bask in their aesthetically-pleasing exhibit.
Caysel has a fascination with words at an early age. Her love for writing has bloomed since then. After being taught to play musical instruments, she learned the magic of words when intertwined with melodies. She would later discover a new love for songwriting. Venturing into the music scene and the lively world of pop culture are among her favorite activities. She aspires to tell their stories. When life gets a little tough, Caysel disappears into the world of K-dramas, figure skate ice dance programs and video essays, then comes right back whenever she's ready.