“I was in Europe with my boyfriend last 2019, nasa Barcelona kami… I bought a notebook, tapos sabi [ng boyfriend ko], ‘magdrawing ka ng what you want to do years from now…’ So nagdrawing ako doon ng cafe with plants and crystals,” shares Eyah Catindig, proud owner of an aesthetic garden cafe in Cabuyao, Laguna named Bloombellas.
Named after her mom Belle and her daughter Isabelle, Eyah shares that she didn’t expect that her dream will turn into reality in the midst of the pandemic. “At that time [when I was in Spain], I was in construction kasi I’m an industrial engineer. So, my business before was construction. Sobrang layo ‘di ba? I wasn’t even thinking of having [the cafe]. I wanted one pero hindi ko in-expect… If it’s really going to happen, it’s really going to happen…” she continues.
Plantita since 2015
Eyah has been a plantita since 2015. She has collected succulents over the years. In 2020, during the lockdown, her mom Belle got inspired to collect as well. It was then that she fell in love with indoor plants.
Sadly, one of the most expensive plants died. This prompted Eyah to look for a supplier to cheer up her mom, and it turned out to be a major turning point that steered into the direction of cafe entrepreneurship.
“Sobrang sad niya kasi wala pang 1 week yung plant. Sabi ko, imposibleng wala kang makukuhanan, naghanap ako ng supplier and nakapag-import ako,” Eyah shares.
“Hanggang sa nag-import na kami ng Holland plants. Nagkaroon kami ng greenhouse sa house na pinupuntahan ng mga tao, nagpapapicture sila.”
“Clients ng bloombellas — mga doctors, ganyan. Tapos ‘pag pupunta sila rito sa bahay, papa-kapehin namin sila. Mga 3-in-1 lang ganun, papa-meryendahin namin sila… Mimi (Belle) and I, ma-chika kami sa mga clients… So napapatambay talaga mga customers dito”
“Hanggang yung garage namin dito sa house naging store na siya. Wala na kaming space, lahat ng cars namin nasa labas. People would really go here. Ang problem, residential. Nawawala rin ung privacy namin.”
So they decided to turn their vacant lot in Brgy. Casile into their official garden with a greenhouse, where clients can freely browse for plants they want to adopt.
“Naisip ko na ang boring naman kung greenhouse lang or garden. Tapos walang anything, walang restaurant. Ever since I’ve always wanted a coffee shop. Ang dream ko is a cafe with plants and crystals,” Eyah continues. Thus, Bloombellas Cafe was born.
Not only does the cafe boast fresh air, amazing view, and a relaxing alfresco atmosphere, it also has crystals which is Eyah’s tribute to her late friend.
“I had a friend kasi na meron dapat kaming pupuntahan na coffee shop sa may Taal. Coffee shop na may crystals… Unfortunately my friend died last year… Super close kami… Why not put up a coffee shop na garden cafe and may crystals? Yung books nya andun din parang tribute sa kanya…”
Aside from the crystals, customers can easily browse through their plant collection and lounge in the cafe to relax and share refreshing drinks and a delicious array of pastries.
“[Our bestsellers are BB Blend, White Chocolate Mocha, [and] I personally made a drink… Yung Bloombella’s Original House Blend Peppermint Iced Tea. Nag-recipe using Blu’s peppermint [syrup] as one of the ingredients. Meron din siyang option, you can have it in peach and mango. The bestseller is peppermint. Sobrang refreshed while drinking. Lalo sa mga bikers,” says Eyah.
“Along the route, may bikers… When you reach our cafe. It’s considered one of the achievements for bikers… Nalagpasan mo ung kambal ahon. Super stiff na going up na dalawang beses ‘yun. Very few riders actually reach our cafe.”
“Siyempre mga bikers, uhaw, along the area kasi walang cafe. Puro bulaluhan, silog, ganyan.”
They also offer Oreo Cheesecake, Carrot Apple Walnut Cake, and Matcha Mousse Cake. For pastries, they sell cookies, croissants, and other types of pastries.
“Mimi is in charge of the food… We’re targeting around October to December so we can add food. Sobrang daming naghahanap, The ambiance is really good, may sunset. May crystals around. We have plants. ‘Pag di ka pa narelax, ewan ko nalang. Kaya people wanted to stay longer, aabutan sila ng lunch or dinner.”
Operating a cafe
However, a few weeks before opening, the team also encountered challenges that they had to resolve. The original barista that they trained suddenly resigned! So it became a family effort to fill the gap and proceed with the opening. “Buti nalang nagtraining kami pati ung pinsan ko. Kami kami lang nag-open nun,” Eyah shares.
“Yung machine namin na kinuha namin sa Blu Coffee made a huge difference. Automatic, naka-connect ‘yung grinder to the machine. Nag-aral din kami ng manual. Di ako masyado natatakot. Kasi kaya kong gumawa ng coffee,” Eya says.
Aside from the machine, barista training also helped Eyah and her staff to stay confident with their beverage crafting skills and stay consistent with the taste of the drinks they offer.
“[Nag-train kami sa training na] kasama sa Blu. Aside from that, yung friend ko na barista also trained us. I also have barista experience in the US in 2015. Nakatulong yung experience na yun. kasi kahit papano may background ako how to run a coffee shop.”
Belle, her mom, who spent 7 years in Italy, also loved the coffee beans offered by Blu. “My mom was like, ito talaga yung natitikman ko dati sa Italy,” she narrates.
“Iba [ang Blu Coffee] sa lasa ng usual [beans]. Sa dami ng coffee shops ngayon, we have to have something na hindi nila lagi natitikman around the area. Sabi ng mommy ko sa akin, ‘pagbigyan mo na ako. Eto ang coffee beans na gusto ko.’”
Eyah also shares that what she likes about Blu is the reliability and responsiveness of the team, as well as the variety of products it offers. “Madaling makontak ang Blu. Nakatulong [din] yung stocks namin. Lahat nalang ng pwedeng products namin na pwedeng kunin sa Blu, kunin sa Blu. Nakakastress kasi kumausap ng iba’t ibang supplier.”
Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs
When asked what she wants to tell an aspiring entrepreneur, Eyah says, “If they want something, just keep pushing for it. Do not be discouraged.”
“Things will push you to that direction na everything will work out. Just go for it. If it’s really your dream, mangyayari at mangyayari talaga.”
Eyah also emphasizes the importance of being a hands-on entrepreneur.
“Business birth pains, sometimes mapapaiyak ka. I go everyday from opening to closing. Tutok talaga. Cafe business is not something na pwede mong iwan sa staff. May mga little things ka talaga na mapapansin na kailangan ng supervision. Di ka pwede magopen ng cafe if you’re not gonna look after it. Mahirap sa umpisa, pero once it’s there na, tuloy tuloy na.”
Want to be a cafe entrepreneur like Eyah of Bloombellas? Start your dream cafe business today.