So where does Philippine coffee stand? Filipinos have finally taken to the serious business of growing and producing specialty coffee that passes international standards, with flying colors. My mission this month: find cafes and establishments that boast of this fine brew. Here are some of the places I discovered:
Serving up some great coffee for an even greater cause is Hineleban Café. Using beans grown by local farmers from Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur, they promote sustainable livelihood and promote the restoration of mountain rainforests in that area. With their gorgeous space along Arnaiz Avenue in Makati, customers are treated to a relaxed and somewhat unique coffee shop vibe. The piccolo or short latte I had here was intense and full-bodied, which I enjoyed. Fruity and bright, it made for a very well-balanced cup. Every purchase you make from Hineleban Café helps support the livelihood of Bukidnon’s indigenous people, now isn’t that more than enough reason to enjoy your caffeine fix?
I have to give credit to my fellow DCF contributor Kris Alcantara for recommending this place. I love getting coffee shop recos! As their name suggests, their coffee is sourced from the Cordillera mountain ranges or Sagada. Each area of this region has its own unique microclimate, producing its one-of-a-kind coffee cherries. Their café looks and feels like an old house maybe from the 70s or 80s, spacious and homey, with beautiful locally-made furniture and a striking coffee bar.
When you enter the premises, you’ll immediately notice an intriguing sign that says Coffee Science Center, denoting how serious they are about their business. The Flat White I had here was chocolatey and robust, with low acidity and a smooth mouthfeel, definitely worth a trip to Maginhawa.
The Wander Space
Since I was in Maginhawa territory, I decided to explore the neighboring cafes and chanced upon The Wander Space. A retail store and café that bursts of locally-made, artfully done and inspired products that just beg you to linger and browse through every single thing they have on their shelves. You enter the store and at the end is the coziest little café with throw pillows and bean bags where you can kick off your shoes, relax and have some coffee and pastries. I was very much fascinated by the brand they used, called Steep Coffee Bags. Philippine coffee from Batangas, Sagada, Mt. Apo, and even Sultan Kudarat is ground and placed into little pyramid-like tea bags, complete with some twine to help you plop it down into hot water.
I’ve never seen this kind of brewing technique before. I go for the Iced Coffee, and although it was on the sweet side (I forgot to tell the barista to remove the sugar syrup), I thought it was a clever way to have your cup of joe in the morning or whenever and heck, wherever. Super convenient, fast and easy, and proudly 100% local.
Bo’s Coffee Primo
Now I know what you may be thinking, hasn’t Bo’s Coffee been around for ages? And the answer is, yes! Actually one of the pioneers in serving up Philippine coffee to the masses, Bo’s has been a staple in the café scene in Manila and around the country. But just recently, I noticed a sleek, new rebranding with some of their shops. Their Shangri-La Plaza Mall café is now called Bo’s Coffee Primo, offering coffee from Sagada, Benguet, Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Apo and Mt. Matutum–and serving them up using different brewing methods. They even have Cold Brew on the menu, which brings me to their Cold White Brew. I have to confess, this turned out to be an obsession for me for quite a while, I just had to have it all the time.
Local coffee is steeped to make their Cold Brew coffee, poured over ice, and finished off with rich and indulgent cream that forms mesmerizing white ribbons as you swirl your coffee around with your straw. It’s just so dang delicious, and what a spectacular way to reinvent local coffee. It’s no wonder why Bo’s has been a formidable force to reckon with.
If you think about it, this list is really just scratching the surface of Philippine coffee’s resurgence and metamorphosis not only in the local, but global coffee scene. I’m excited to go on with my search for more proudly-Pinoy, 100% homegrown, specialty coffee, and to go forth and caffeinate!
830 Arnaiz Ave. (formerly Pasay Road) Makati
Open weekdays 7am-9pm, weekends 9am-7pm
45 Maalalahanin St. Teacher’s Village East, QC
Open everyday 8am-10pm
The Wander Space
80 Maginhawa Street, Diliman, QC
Open Tuesday to Sunday 1-10pm
Steep Coffee Bags
Roots Katipunan, Unit 106 FBR Bldg. Katipunan Ave, Brgy. Loyola Heights QC
Bo’s Coffee Primo
3F, Main Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Shaw Blvd. corner EDSA, Ortigas, Mandaluyong
Open mall hours