Your Coffee Bean Story: Gaby Formoso & Toby Alvarez

“Our very first date was in a The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® store. That’s where we met, in Greenbelt.

Guy (Toby): The only table that had another chair free when I went to the store was the one that she was sitting on. I was so desperate to get on my laptop to get some work done. So I had to… ‘Diskarte’ Is that what you call it? I asked, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but could we share a table?’ One thing led to another, and the next thing I know I was buying her dessert. We had dinner that night! That’s our Coffee Bean story.”– Toby Alvarez and Gaby Formoso

Please state your name & tell us what you do.

(Girl, Gaby) I’m Gaby Formoso and I make macro counted meals for bodybuilders and fitness people. I’m currently taking my nutrition courses in Australia.
(Guy, Toby) I’m Toby Alvarez. I’ve been a volunteer here in the Philippines for an organization called Destiny Rescue for three years. We help trafficked and sexually exploited kids. We rescue them from the streets, from prostitution. We connect them with DSWD and other organizations and churches. On the side, I sell sneakers.

What are you guys passionate about?
(Gaby) I start my day at 5 every single day. I go to the market to support the local farmers and buy produce from them. It’s really nice when you build a relationship with them. I see cooking as an art form. I’ve developed my own style. I follow a recipe and if it’s a disaster, I’ll try again. Toby’s my guinea pig in the kitchen! He’d say “It tastes better than it looks babe!”

Like many other things in my life, this passion for food roots from my family. The dining table is sacred as it’s like with many other Filipino houses. You can’t bring cellphones, you just focus on the food and the family matters. When you can transcribe your passion to your food, people can feel it. Especially when it’s fitness related- healthy food. I want to break that barrier- that healthy food can be satisfying and tasty.

So far, what’s Gaby’s A+ effort in the kitchen?
(Toby) Oh man, everyday’s a little different. Yesterday, it was the meatballs. This morning, it was the fishcakes. Anything she puts her mind to, in terms of food, she comes out with something different. We’ve gone travelling and there are plenty of healthy food out there, but they’re marketed a bit more towards the upper end and it feels too much like a social thing. Her food’s nothing too fragile, you can dig right in and in the end, it’s good for you.

How about you Toby, what are you passionate about?
(Toby) One of my two main things is definitely the organization I volunteer for, Destiny Rescue. I’m trying to bring equality between girls and boys. Especially when it comes to the disadvantaged lower end of society. Give them the same opportunities the rest of the world has. A lot of the cases we deal with, a lot of these girls are trafficked or put into these situations where they have to do a lot of things that aren’t savory because they just need money for school or for the house or for their siblings and parents. We’re trying to change that, make money not an issue so they’re not forced into these scenarios and we also want to upskill them so they can go beyond these things.

My background is in music and with music, I was able to travel around a lot through Southeast Asia, America and Australia. One thing I noticed when I landed here in Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, was how rampant poverty was. It just made music so miniscule in my life so I really had to recalibrate everything. Through those travels, music didn’t seem so important to me anymore so I backed off from that and focused more on humanitarian work. So I’ve been doing that full time for the past three years.

What do you do per se for Destiny Rescue?
(Toby) I manage the teams here. I’m Country Manager so I organize everything on the ground here- the teams who go out to rescue the girls. The people who liaise with the proper groups and authorities.

Do you have any other hobbies?
(Toby) I’m a volunteer here so I need to make a living of some sort. My other passion has always been sneakers. I mean, everyone needs shoes. What a better culture than here. Everyone has a unique fashion sense in a way, there’s such an undertow with sneakers here. My real passion’s with Destiny Rescue but then, without the sneakers, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do. It’s a fun little thing I can do in the day without being so time consuming.

What do you guys like doing together?
We hit the gym together. We love going out and finding new food kind of places, whether it be carinderias or food trucks. As long as we’re eating, we’re good!

Bringing back the topic to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, what store/s do you frequent?
(Gaby) I studied in Taft and the store in One Archers Place was just home to me. I stayed there from morning to night studying and tipong, doon na ako natutulog.

What do you guys like about The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®?
(Toby) The service. First off, they remember your name. That’s what it’s like here. Whether it be the stores we frequent or those we only visited a few times, they still recognize you. There’s also a clear distinction between Coffee Bean’s coffee and competitors. I’m here every morning. I love it.

(Gaby) What he said, they remember your name. You can meet your friends there. It’s very homey; you can stay there literally for hours.

What are your go-to drinks?
(Gaby) Alam na nila eh! Toby just walks in and automatic “Americano, sir Toby?”
(Toby) I probably have at least 2 or 3 Americanos in Coffee Bean in the morning.

Aside from your first date, what are other special memories in Coffee Bean?
(Toby) I suppose on my end with rescuing the girls. Without going into too much detail, when we try to connect these girls from the streets, we try to bring them to a safe environment, like a comfortable place. Our team’s go-to place is Coffee Bean. We buy them an Ice Blended drink, a beverage, a piece of cake. We get them food. We’ve had a great amount of success connecting to them through this. It’s just really a nice, friendly place for us to get to know these girls. I say, the staff and the customers rather respect each other. There’s no real prying eye. It’s really nice on my end.

What’s Your Coffee Bean Story? Email if you would like to share your story with the community!


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