Karabella Dairy: the local gelato with a heart and a purpose
It's no wonder how this Filipino social enterprise continues to grow to nourish both families and the farmers that they serve
When Alfred Ng's daughter Erika was leading one of the Social Enterprise Projects at the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in 2015, Karabella Dairy already came out as a brand with so much potential, given its advocacies to not only help the carabao farmers reach their full potential to fight the rising poverty, but also maximize the supply of fresh carabao's milk as a valuable ingredient for making real dairy products for consumers.
Like the down-to-earth, hardworking female carabaos (or more commonly known as domestic water buffaloes) that still manage to bear delicious milk even as she plows rice fields at the farm, Karabella Dairy persevered and became a home industry within the GK Enchanted Farm with their GK Village stores and events. Fast forward to a few years and more than 20 ice cream flavors later, Alfred Ng has now taken over the business as President and CFO, where he is joined by the equally energetic mother and son duo, Jan and EJ Buenaflor, who are both taking the lead on Marketing and Operations / R&D respectively.
It's impressive on how Karabella has contributed largely to support not only our farmers, but also our Philippine culture and heritage.
The stars aligned when Karabella's media event happened on the same day they got featured on Philippine Star
Karabella Dairy's flagship product, the famous Italian gelato, takes a fun Pinoy spin as it's uniquely made with carabao's milk, which makes it healthier, gluten-free, and is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant. Carabao's milk also has higher calcium content compared to cow's milk, which means that you're also nourishing yourself while enjoying their signature classic and premium flavors such as Tablea Chocolate, Leche Flan with Calamansi, Salted Egg Caramel, Roasted White and Chocolate Cashew.
The bold, the brave and the boozy - Karabella's Chocoholic is laced with Don Papa Rum
They also have a boozy line for the more adventurous ice cream fans, with Ube Halaya and Chocoholic that uses local spirits such as the award-winning Ube Liqueur from Agimat at Ugat, and Don Papa Rum, another local spirit that's widely available in the country.
It's great to know that we now live in a time where we consumers are now more discerning than ever especially when it comes to supporting brands that not only is beneficial to us but also to those who are working hard behind the scenes.
Rosario Juan of Commune and EJ Buenaflor or Karabella Dairy
EJ Buenaflor, for instance, consistently takes into consideration on how precious carabao's milk is initially, and he even made the big switch from being a young banker to enrolling himself and learning the ways of making gelato under Gruppo Dolci, just to ensure that all Karabella Dairy products are well developed and of top-notch quality like how the Italians used to make them. The flavors that he creates are also inspired by many of his trips abroad, wherein trying local ice creams never fails to be on top of his travel itinerary.
The ultimate Ice Cream Party featuring Karabella Dairy's plethora of flavors
As for Ej's mom, Jan Buenaflor, we just love seeing her bubbly personality shine, just like many of the fun flavors that Karabella Dairy offers. And as a mother, who wouldn't be proud of her own son? She's not only Karabella Dairy's Corporate Secretary, but also a consistent cheerleader to EJ and, in most cases, one of the first ones (if not the first) to try EJ's gelato test creations. "Mom would always love everything I do, of course, so I make sure I let others try it as well!", he said jokingly as I offered myself and a friend to volunteer as "guinea pigs" whenever they needed to test out new flavors.
As of writing, they just launched a new product, Helen's Guava Cake, which is a collaboration with Artisanal Cakes by Monique T! We are raving this cake back in 2021, so to discover this in gelato form is just amazing!!
If all else fails, go classic with an affogato
But no ice cream party is complete without the venue, so what better way to introduce Karabella to the public than to do it in Commune, which is only one of the best coffee shops in the Philippines.
Commune is one of the first cat cafes in the country, and the home to Cats of Commune PH
Commune's queen and resident caffeineholic, Rosario Juan joins us as she serves up the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches in Manila that are best paired with their great coffee and shots of espresso served at the end of our meal, all made as affogato of course using Karabella's classic vanilla gelato. Delicious.
Cheese blend, brioche, and homemade ketchup. This is American comfort food at its best.
It's just impressive how Karabella has contributed largely to support not only our farmers, but also the entire carabao industry, and ultimately our culture and heritage - after all, carabaos is The Philippines' national animal.
So if you need ice cream to either cool down on a hot day, cope with stress or simply enjoy its impressive flavors and textures, try the gelato from Karabella Dairy for a change. We're telling you, you're gonna get hooked, that's for sure!