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Koibito’s Gelato: Italian in spirit, Filipino at heart

Koibito’s Gelato: Italian in spirit, Filipino at heart

こいびと koibito – (n) lover; sweetheart

There is a universal notion that when food is prepared with love, that love is transferred from the chef to the dish, and from the dish to the person to whom it is served. This is said to be what actually gives the food that inexplicable deliciousness; that taste that reaches the trenches of one’s soul only to take that same spirit sky-rocketing into the farthest parts of the universe.

The same is true with Koibito’s World of Gelato and how owner and chief gelato architect Roger Monsale and his team prepare every flavor, every tub, every day. Roger, in turn, receives overflowing love and support from his wife, Angeli. Together, they are a driving force that shapes what Koibito’s Gelato is all about: from the process in which it is prepared, to the local partners they support, to its parts or components that make it more than the usual gelato — plus it’s proudly Filipino.

Love for country

“We always say that Koibito’s is a story of love,” begins Angeli when we ask her what Koibito’s is, in a nutshell. In 2012, Roger decided to give up his dream of becoming a pilot and chose to prioritize his new marriage to Angeli instead. In return, Angeli gave Roger her full support when he decided to pursue a new passion — gelato — and turn it into a business.

“I went to Italy, because people were telling me that the gelato there is really different,” says Roger. “I said I would bring it back to the Philippines. I wanted to help local farmers because I know we’re rich in raw materials here. It’s just a matter of using them wisely.”

It became Roger’s quest to help farmers and use local products to come up with world-class gelato. “Since all Filipinos enjoy ice cream, why don’t we have a premium product using local raw materials?”

Embracing gelato and the authentic Italian way of preparing it is in no way a snub to Filipino culture. It is, in fact, about elevating the Pinoy palate with a gelato prepared with very high sanitary standards.

“We value the health of the Filipino in terms of adapting the original way of making gelato,” says Angeli. “The secret to that,” Roger adds, “is having a really good machine.”

Add to this a really good recipe, and then really good, fresh ingredients.

Pasteurization is an important and major step in the preparation of gelato.

“Pasteurization is the rapid heating of dairy products, up to 85°C,” Roger explains. “At 85°C, all the harmful bacteria are dead. Then we rapidly cool it down to 0 to 4°C.” This cooled-down product — now a gelato — is good for 3 to 4 days, considering all ingredients are fresh. If kept frozen, it can last up to 6 months. (Roger says it can last for a year, but they advocate consuming fresh food, so they recommend 6 months.)

Love for fresh, local ingredients

“I buy my milk on the day of or the day before we process our gelato,” says Roger, who feels lucky to be based in Batangas which produces its own fresh milk (Batangas Dairy Cooperative). They do use some imported ingredients from Italy and France (cream), but they choose to use local ingredients and work with local farmers and manufacturers, ones they met through events organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“We’re glad that they have those programs that help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Roger says. “We have found MSMEs who have products we can use for our gelato, and these products are FDA-approved.”

Aside from Batangas milk, other local ingredients of Koibito’s gelato are mulberries (from Laguna), cashew butter (from Rizal), Batangas tablea, and Batangas coffee or Kapeng Barako. Incidentally, these last 3 plus Pistachio are also their 4 best-sellers.

For Koibito’s Gelato, it’s not about loving local, it is also about supporting local — a form of bayanihan among MSMEs.

Love for nutrition

Roger and Angeli are parents to 3 healthy boys, so to say that they put a premium on nutrition is an understatement. Yes, gelato is, of course, sweet. But they more than make up for it with what they choose to put and not put in their gelato, aside from the fresh ingredients.

“We don’t put preservatives,” says Roger. “The only preservative that we have in our gelato is actually sugar, and then the temperature. Although some of our ingredients from Italy and the fruits do contain preservatives, our mix doesn’t.”

They also use fresh dairy cream from cows.

Koibito’s Gelato uses sugar but it is strictly measured; the goal is for the product to have a clean finish on the palate and not leave an aftertaste — exactly how gelato should be. “Everything is calculated and measured in healthy quantities,” says Angeli.

As with everything else, Roger and Angeli agree that even their product should be enjoyed in moderation.

Their no-sugar-added flavors Pistachio and Giandujia use natural sugar that is safe for diabetics. “We took out the sucrose but there’s still plant-based ingredients safe for diabetics in order to achieve the right consistency and texture,” says Angeli.

They also use whole fruits, not pastes. These fruits are not cooked but added straight into the mix in their original state. For those who do not consume dairy, their fruit sorbets are mainly sugar, water, and the fruit. They do not use food coloring.

Their tablea is less processed compared to commercial chocolate. This means that flavonoids — anti-cancer antioxidants — are very much present.

There is a song that goes, “Love will keep us alive.” For Roger and Angeli Monsale, this love takes on many forms: love for Filipino farmers and fellow businessmen; love for fresh and local recipes; and love for their customers so they make sure that their gelato is sweet yet nutritious.

Next time you take a spoonful of Koibito’s Gelato, may you feel and enjoy this love. We only ask that you pass it on, and help others (including diabetics) enjoy life with every spoonful of Koibito’s Gelato. Welcome to our world.

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