Breaking Bread over Coffee & Saints

Celebrity foodie Nancy Reyes-Lumen returns to a bakery training project that rises into a resto business

The Adobo Queen selects an adobo pan de sal made by disadvantaged boys at a Caltex-Pugad livelihood training café. With Pugad Center director Fr Dave Buenaventura.

MAKATI, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013 – The Philippines’ “Adobo Queen” Nancy Reyes Lumen looked around and saw a used commercial oven, a couple of Caltex LPG tanks,  some baking tools,  a few proofing shelves and six shy teenagers. They were inside a former storage room turned into a bakery for training migrant youths rescued by the Don Bosco Pugad Center (Pugad) from abuse and poverty.

That was 10 years ago. Travelling back to the present, Nancy’s gaze now falls upon an air-conditioned dining area, a proper kitchen, full cooking implements and professional looking crew. This is Caltex-Pugad Coffee and Saint (C&S) café, a restaurant operations training venture, one of the many self-sustaining livelihood enterprises that have sprouted from the humble bakery a decade ago.

Nancy was first invited as a project consultant by Caltex brand marketer, Chevron Philippines Inc. (CPI) in 2003, to explore the commercial potential of creating a training bakery as a livelihood community program for disadvantaged boys. The birth of C&S from that bakery venture is proof that charitable projects can sustain themselves if managed properly.

“It exceeded my expectations,” exclaimed Lumen on a recent visit to Pugad.  “When I first came on board, the Pugad boys already knew the basics of making good bread but baking in commercial quantities and keeping quality consistent were a challenge.

Nancy, who hails from the family that built the famous Aristocrat restaurant, taught the boys lessons on quality control and more efficient baking operations. She also urged the Pugad bakers to expand their product line and be sensitive to market needs—critical keys to ensure bakery profitability. She showed the boys how to make bread bowls and mini-pandesal that served as excellent foundation for canapés.

As word spread of a bakery run by disadvantaged boys and hot-from-the-oven bread for sale in the heart of Don Bosco parish, the Pugad bakery clientele grew rapidly. But Pugad administrators realized that the trainees needed to add more skills in the kitchen and learn customer service in order to increase their chances of getting jobs outside Pugad.

C&S training café was a natural expansion of the bakery business. Chevron helped finance the cafe as a Caltex Energy for Learning (EFL) program. EFL funds projects that help disadvantage people gain access to education and livelihood so that they can become productive members of society.

Located right outside the Don Bosco parish church, C&S offers convenience, comfort food and reasonable prices. From simple breakfast menus designed to complement the Pugad breads, C&S began venturing into “lutong bahay” (home cooked style) meals to serve the Makati lunch crowd.

The Pugad boys trained with the help of donor-restaurateurs, some facilitated by Chevron. The trainees spend at least three months learning food preparation, food business and restaurant operations.

“I’m very thrilled with everything that Pugad Center has accomplished in 10 years; most especially so for this coffee shop,” adds Lumen.

Fr. Dave Buenaventura, SDB, Pugad Foundation Director, explains, “It’s called Coffee & Saints because we want to promote the best Philippine coffee served best with our bread. We also feature three saints as examples to the boys. These are: St. John Bosco for his hard work and entrepreneurial spirit; Lorenzo Ruiz for his loyalty, fidelity, and courage; and Pedro Calungsod, our latest Filipino saint, for his joviality, commitment, and friendship.”

Lumen tasted the coffee shop’s best-selling meals and shared her thoughts on how to improve or sustain the recipes. She volunteered to help C&S come up with new menu items for C&S re-opening, and tweak some existing recipes and breads. On top of that, the celebrity foodie will donate one of her family’s secret adobo recipes to add to C&S list of best-sellers.

The newly renovated Coffee and Saints feature several new dishes made with ashitaba grown locally by the Pugad center. Ashitaba means “tomorrow’s leaf,” a Japanese vine that is said to have a myriad of health benefits.

Aside from C&S, other projects that sprouted from the bakery and provided fresh grants by Chevron are the Caltex-Pugad’s Manna from Heaven Bakeshop which sells 30 kinds of bakery products and Mobile Mechanic auto repair service as well. These projects help youth at risk, children in conflict with the law and migrant young men of Pugad Center.

About Chevron Philippines Inc.

Chevron Philippines Inc. has been operating in the country for more than 85 years under its retail brand, Caltex, offering high quality products and services. There are close to 800 service stations strategically scattered throughout the Philippine archipelago and employees working in several areas of business such as Marketing, Lubricants and Terminal operations. The Chevron products that are available in the Philippines include Caltex with Techron® fuel and Caltex Diesel with Techron®D, Havoline® and Delo® oils. More information on Chevron Philippines Inc. is available at