May 9, 2016

Manila, Philippines: 5 Must-Visit Specialty Coffee Shops


Is there anything better than a perfectly brewed morning coffee? How about sipping it in the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ – Manila?

Manila’s specialty coffee scene may be in its infancy, yet good coffee is easy to come by. Tear yourself away from the beach and sample what’s on offer

SEE ALSO: Third Wave to the Rescue in the Philippines

Why These Five?

Instead of listing the five “best” cafés in Manila, I’ve created this easy weekend coffee crawl in Legaspi Village. This tour will delight your senses and give you a taste of the coffee scene in this bustling city.

What does unite these cafés is that each space has its own distinct personality with owners who are clearly committed coffee lovers.

Read on for your first taste…

1. Habitual Coffee

Start your weekend off with the AeroPress-obsessed brewers at Habitual Coffee.

For Manila locals, it’s no surprise that Kaye topped the 2015 Philippine AeroPress Championships and eventually became the 2015 World AeroPress Championships’ 2nd Runner-Up. And after visiting here, you won’t be surprised either.

This sleek coffee shop has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an AeroPress bar inside a home décor store. The owners recently took over an industrial warehouse to build this new-look shop. They now offer an espresso menu, tasty food and, of course, meticulously brewed coffees.

Where 2135 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City (beside King’s Court, near Little Tokyo)
Hours Mon-Wed 8am-9pm, Thurs-Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 8am-7pm
Style Minimalist and industrial
Coffee Equipment Faema E61 Legend, AeroPress
Must-Try Drinks Flat white, cortado, AeroPress, cold brew, Old Habits Die Hard
Coffee Offerings Ethiopia Konga by Yardstick, Philippine Specialty Coffee by Kalsada, Coffee Empire, and other guest beans from EDSA BDG
Food & Other Drinks Buffalo chicken sandwiches, waffles, grilled cheese, Seattle dog, and shrimp rolls
Retail Offerings Kalsada whole beans, Kalsada chocolate bars, and Aerobie AeroPress

Habitual coffee shop interior

Habitual’s Industrial fit-out. Credit: Kaye One

2. Restock Coffee & Curiosities

True to its name, this beautiful shop is full of treasures. Tucked in the corner is Jonathan’s masterpiece – a pimped-out Domobar that produces to-die-for coffee.

Then there’s barista extraordinaire Daniel Roque, who recently won the 3rd Philippine AeroPress Championship. He’s off to represent the Philippines in the World AeroPress Championship in Dublin later this summer.

Restock also has custom ceramics, house-made tonics, and facilities for churning out pizzadillas. Intricacies aside, Jonathan Choi and his team are a joy to have a conversation with. Grab a cup and say hello to the baristas.

Where 7635 Guijo Street, Makati City
Hours Mon-Sat 10:30am-10pm
Style A lifestyle and design retail space with a specialty coffee bar inside
Coffee Equipment Custom Vibiemme Double Domobar V4 with built-in Acaia Lunar scale, Compak E8, Bonavita Kettle, and Hario V60s for pour overs
Must-Try Drinks Coffee Tonic (a tonic made in-house) and Midnight (a short mocha with citrus peel)
Coffee Offerings Espresso – Brazil Yellow Bourbon and Ethiopian Guji blend

Filter – Guatemala Pastoral and Bali Kintamani

Roaster Magnum Opus Fine Coffees using a Behmor 160
Food & Other Drinks Pizzadillas (pizza quesadillas) – Margherita, Fungi Town, S’mores
Retail Offerings Drift magazine, digital thermometers, the Sunday paper, and notebooks

Restock Coffee & Curiosities coffee shop

Damn Daniel – the 3rd Philippine AeroPress Champion at the bar. Credit: Andre Chanco

3. The Curator Coffee & Cocktails

Here’s a tip: head down to The Curator Coffee & Cocktails just before sundown, and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

As you take a seat, their well-informed staff will tell you about the coffee blends roasted by #YKW Roasters from the EDSA Beverage Design Studio.  They occasionally feature a guest roaster to let customers excite their palate with something new.

As the Saturday sun sets in Manila, order an espresso martini or enjoy something from their extensive library of beverages. Serving up caffeine and alcohol in one space is difficult to pull off, yet Jericson Co, Tiffany Yu, and David Ong have done exactly that.

Where Legaspi Parkview Condominium, 134 Legaspi Street corner C. Palanca Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City
Hours Mon-Thurs 7am-2am, Fri-Sat 7am-3am, Sun 7am-6pm
Style A homely speakeasy bar serving both coffee and cocktails
Coffee Equipment Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II T3, La Marzocco Vulcano, Anfim
Must-Try Drinks Shako-What-O
Coffee Offerings Espresso, filter, and cold brew
Roaster #YKW Roasters and various others
Food & Other Drinks Sandwiches, cookies, cupcakes, cocktails and several other types of alcohol

brew bar at The Curator

A few of the many coffee toys at The Curator. Credit: David Ong


Take a quick stroll to this coffee shop before visiting the Legaspi Weekend Market on a Sunday.

Yardstick is a pioneering specialty coffee roaster. At any point in time, there will be two coffees available for an espresso, several filter offerings, and house-bottled cold brews. Don’t forget to grab some retail coffee for the week ahead too.

The fit-out houses a modular coffee bar, a workshop, a roastery, and a machine showroom. Owners Kevin Tang, Jessica Lee, and Andre Chanco are pretty hands-on with the daily operations of the company too, so don’t be afraid to say “hi!”

Where Universal LMS Building, 106 Esteban Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City
Hours Mon-Sat 7am-11pm, Sun 8am-6pm
Style A clean, modular setup with atmospheric lighting
Coffee Equipment La Marzocco Strada, La Marzocco Vulcano, Mazzer Kony, EK43, Alpha Dominche Steampunk Mod 2.1
Must-Try Drinks Cold Brew No. 1
Coffee Offerings Legaspi, flagship blend, current seasonal coffees: Kenya Thiriku, Costa Rica Juan Carlos Valerio, Colombia Neiver Samboni
Roaster Diedrich IR-5
Food & Other Drinks Waffles, waffles, and more waffles (brunch and dinner options are also available if you don’t like waffles)
Retail Offerings 250g wholebean Coffee, ACME cups, brewers, filters, coffee equipment and accessories

brew bar at The Curator

The modular coffee bar at Yardstick. Credit: Acre

5. Tobys Estate

In a short span of two years, Toby’s Estate has managed to make specialty coffee more accessible to a wider audience – an impressive feat, indeed.

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this coffee spot is the brand’s 8th site in the city. Situated across from the Legazpi Active Park, it boasts a stunning interior that showers you with natural sunlight.

Expect to see crowd favorites such as the Gibraltar (aka cortado) and flat whites. Both are perfectly combined with a selection of Bucky’s treats. Yum!

Where Senta Condominium, 140 Legaspi St, Legaspi Village, Makati City
Hours Mon-Sun 7am-10pm
Style A cosy hangout space with stunning interiors and warm lighting
Coffee Equipment Spirit by Kees van der Westen, Mazzer Robur
Must-Try Drinks A Gibraltar or a flat white
Coffee Offerings Woolloomooloo blend and seasonal single origins
Roaster 35kg Loring Smart Roast
Food & Other Drinks Bucky’s Original, traviata, and grilled four cheese sandwich
Retail Offerings 250g whole bean coffee and brewers

Toby's estate coffee shop barista at work

Mood lighting at Toby’s Estate. Credit: Andre Chanco

6. Wildflour Cafe + Bakery

I couldn’t help but add a sixth option for luck!

After a long caffeinated weekend, wind down and take a breather inside Wildflour Cafe + Bakery.

The owners manage to nail this warm vibe one shop after another. Walk into their latest Legaspi Village spot and you will be transported out of Manila’s busy streets.

The rustic interiors and scrumptious baked treats will make you feel welcome. Speaking of their baked goods, they’re perfect combined with Wildflour’s coffee – which, by the way, is from Verve Coffee Roasters. Alternatively, pick one of their single origin options for something a little different.

Where G/F, Frabelle Business Center, 111 Rada St, Legaspi Village, Makati City
Hours Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-11pm, Sun 8am-4pm
Style Warm, rustic interiors with a high ceiling and intricate details
Coffee Equipment La Marzocco Linea Classic, Mazzer Kony, Hario V60s
Must-Try Drinks Vietnamese latte, americano, or a latte
Coffee Offerings Espresso blends and single origin roasts from Verve Coffee Roasters
Roaster Verve Coffee Roasters (USA)
Food & Other Drinks A wide array of breakfast options: tarte flambée, sandwiches, and homemade pastas
Retail Offerings Mouthwatering pastries

Lamarzocco at Wildflour cafe and bakery

The La Marzocco Linea Classic blends in nicely with the Wildflour’s space. Credit: Andre Chanco

With things set to skyrocket soon, this is just the tip of the iceberg for the coffee scene in Manila. So keep your eyes peeled for more top-quality specialty cafés soon.

Edited by H. Paull.

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance. Perfect Daily Grind believes in furthering debate over topical issues within the industry, and so seeks to represent the views of all sides.

Perfect Daily Grind.