Kirt Uy de Baron knows her coffee. I am quite the coffee aficionado myself but I tire of going to the same places. When that happens, I ask for Kirt’s recommendations and she’s never failed me. She knows better than anyone which coffee shops have opened and which are up and coming; how does she keep so updated??! Here, six new offerings for you to find your new favorite coffee shop. – Lori
Words & Photos by Kirt Uy de Baron
“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” – T.S. Eliot
“I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.” – Johann Sebastian Bach
Man’s (and woman’s) love affair with coffee has spanned the ages, and for people like me who are absolutely head over heels, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep, hopelessly devoted to this divine beverage, having a good cup of joe can mean the difference between a good or a very, very bad day. Fortunately for us, the rise of the second and third wave cafés have made this need a breeze to satisfy. The Philippines, specifically Manila, is seriously catching up to the world’s high standard of brewing, roasting, even growing coffee, which is good news to all of us looking for that perfect cup of Java. So if you love coffee as much as I do and want to be in-the-know as to which specialty coffee shops to visit now, read on and get ready for your next caffeine fix.
Daily Coffee Bar
For the purists, this no milk, no sugar slow brew bar is a must-try. Located inside Kendo Creative, a charming, artsy shop-slash-co-working space in Cubao Expo, Daily Coffee is literally a miniature coffee bar manned by Kayo Cosio, who is passionate about everything about the coffee process, from harvesting to roasting to brewing. They’ve even recently come out with their own coffee blends called PURPcoffee. My favorite is their Cold Brew over ice, one of the smoothest I’ve ever tasted. For those more accustomed to syrup-infused, milky espresso blends, this might sound a bit daunting. But trust me, appreciating coffee this way, at its most basic, will train your palate to recognize subtle flavor notes and characteristics you didn’t even know existed. Plus, your waistline will thank you for it.
#33 Cubao Expo, Quezon City
Open 3PM-11PM, except Sundays
Nowadays, even if you have great specialty coffee as rare as hen’s teeth sourced from the tiniest micro farms of Africa or South America but lack great interiors, you lose me. Cup Fiction’s quirky-cool interiors gives customers a sense of fun and whimsy while you relax and have your cup of coffee.
Supplied by YKW Coffee (from EDSA Beverage Group), their coffee is carefully prepared to give you a satisfactory experience.
On this visit, I tried their Off-White Iced Latte that was spot on – the creaminess of the milk giving way to the potency of their espresso, allowing it to really shine. I paired this with their Chocolate Chip BFG (Big Fat Giant) Cookie, which was exactly that; a warm, chewy humungous bite of gooey melted Milk Chocolate with the crunch of toasted Walnuts. Bliss. If you’re feeling a bit more ravenous, Cup Fiction offers appetizers and mains as well.
141 Katipunan Avenue White Plains Quezon City
Open Tuesdays to Sunday 10AM-12MN,
The Brewology Café
This is one of those places that never seems to fail me whenever I’m in the need of a good perk me up, and I’m thankful it’s so close to me. The Brewology Café is tucked away in the Scout Area of QC near Tomas Morato. Located on the 2nd floor, you almost have to double back to be able to find it, but once you do, you’ll be glad you did. With beans supplied by Crema and Cream Coffee Roasters, you can be sure that every cup is thoughtfully done. I’ve had several kinds of coffee here but one that I strongly recommend if you’re having a crazy week or if you’ve had a bad day and are in desperate need of some lovin’, is their Babysitter – a richer mocha topped with torched marshmallows. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t love that? For even more sweetness, order their Waffogato, buttermilk waffles with vanilla ice cream and homemade coffee syrup. So, so good.
Open 10AM-11PM Monday-Thursday and 10AM-12MN Friday-Sunday
2/F 2 Scout Lazcano Cor. Scout Magbanua + Mother Ignacia Avenue, Paligsahan, Quezon City
Harlan + Holden Pop Up Café
I know what you might be thinking – “Isn’t Harlan + Holden a local clothing line?” And the answer is, yes! But not only does this brand want to be known for chic and modern silhouettes, they’ve also branched out to serving specialty coffee and guilt-free eats. By putting up several pop up shops, Harlan + Holden cleverly and successfully provides a space that not only fulfills our caffeine needs, but also serves as an effective marketing tool.
The coffee I had here had chocolate and caramel notes; sweet, likeable and uncomplicated. Sipping my Cortado (and an additional Mocha for good measure, all in the name of research, of course) in this sleek and snazzy place definitely made me feel extra cool. Don’t miss this unique coffee experience, their ground floor pop up will only be open till the end of March.
Open during mall hours
Pop up 1 located at the G/F Greenbelt 5 across Zara
Pop up 2 located at the 2/F Greenbelt 5 inside Adora
Yet another story of branching out is Bucky’s. Originally known for their Bucky’s not a Brownie confection, a bazaar and food park staple, it has since grown into a budding not-a-brownie empire with two cafes now serving their sweet treats alongside homey comfort food and yes, really darn good coffee. Supplied and trained by Yardstick Coffee, the espresso-based drinks at Bucky’s is always first-rate. One hot and humid day, I had their Iced White to go and it was the perfect refreshment. I prefer my coffee strong and potent and this did not leave me wanting. During my most recent visit, I simply couldn’t resist the call of their Buckygato, soft serve ice cream with their Original Bucky and salted caramel doused with a fresh shot of espresso. I inhaled this swiftly and happily, and will be dreaming about it for days.
Open Tuesday to Thursday plus Sunday 11AM-10PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-11PM, Closed Mondays.
5666 Don Pedro St. Poblacion, Makati City
Mezzanine Level, JJAC Bldg. 169 Aguirre Ave. BF Homes, Paranaque City
If you’re from the North like me and in need of a good excuse to head down South, Exchange Alley is the ideal place for you. Created by Magnum Opus’ Jonathan Choi and his partners, this restaurant/ café is a specialty coffee house that offers excellent espresso-based drinks and all-day brunch and breakfast-inspired fare.
Not only does this place serve stellar brew, it also serves as a roastery for all their beans, just head on to the second floor and see the impressive piece of equipment churning away, operated with extreme precision by Jonathan himself. These beans are the same ones used in the café as well as their other clients like Restocked in Makati and are also available for sale for coffee lovers who desire to do their own brewing at home. I highly enjoyed my Piccolo Latte, basically, a baby latte as the Italian pronunciation suggests. Pair this with their Avocado and Sourdough toast with its crown of oozing poached eggs and you’re in heaven, more than enough reason to head to Alabang, don’t you agree?
Open Monday to Friday 12NN-11PM, Saturday and Sunday 7AM-11PM
Molito Commercial Complex, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
So there you have it. Now go forth and caffeinate!