When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, no one thought it would last as long as it did. Almost two years in and it doesn’t seem like the virus would be going away any time soon.
The uncertainty of it all has led a lot of people to experience what experts call “COVID Fatigue.” So it’s no surprise that a lot are looking for ways to get away.
The coffee shop ag.KAPI.ta on Daang Kalikasan Road, Pangasinan not only offers customers a chance to escape, but a safe way to reconnect with nature.
It’s right in the middle of rice fields, surrounded by lush greens. The air is fresh and the space is big enough to accommodate customers without compromising safety.
Watch: Summit OG talks with ag.KAPI.ta owners Mawi Rillorta Jr. and Zelle Verzosa Bendito
The staff also discourages visitors to come in groups to prevent any chances of the virus spreading.
“Naisip namin, ngayong pandemic, problema ngayon is mental kasi nasa bahay tayo, stressed sa trabaho, stressed dahil walang nakikitang bago,” ag.KAPI.ta owners Mawi Rillorta Jr. and Zelle Verzosa Bendito told Summit OG.
The husband and wife said the concept for their cafe was inspired by the minimalist coffee shops in Japan that are often located outdoors.
“Coffee lovers talaga kami,” Zelle explained. “Kapag nagta-travel kami sa ibang bansa, ang unang hinahanap namin ‘yung mga coffee shops na on trend.” (We are coffee lovers. When we travel to other countries, the first thing we look for are coffee shops on trend.)
Before they started their quaint coffee shop in the middle of a rice field, Mawi worked aboard ships. He also waited tables at Sofitel’s Spiral Buffet. “Parang hindi ako sapat na waiter ako,” he said. So he started trying his hand in making coffee. (I think I want to do more than wait tables.)
“Kunyari may order ng cappuccino, ako ang gumagawa. Kahit hindi ko kaya, sabi ko, ‘Someday, magkakaroon ako ng sarili kong coffee machine and coffee shop,” he shared. (If someone orders a cappuccino, I try to make it. Even though I don’t know how, I still told myself, one day, I will have my own coffee machine and coffee shop.)
They started with a P150,000 budget. “Kulang po pala ‘yon,” Zelle said. “‘Yun ‘yung hardest part,” she admitted. (It wasn’t enough. That was the hardest part.) But they pushed through because they have always dreamed of putting up their own cafe. “Hindi namin ine-expect na magbo-boom siya,” Zelle said. In fact, they thought it would be a simple coffee shop. (We didn’t expect it to be this big.)
“Makaisip kayo ng isang negosyo, na sa tingin ninyo buong puso ‘yung pagmamahal ninyo doon sa negosyo na ‘yon, gawin niyo,” Mawi said. “Paano mo nga ba malalaman kung hindi mo susubukan?” (If you come up with a business idea and you know that you’ll love doing it with all your heart, do it. How will you know if you don’t try?)
Have you tried putting up your own business during the pandemic? How was it? Share your experience in the comment section.