Let’s face it, today’s urban jungle is fast becoming saturated with massive café franchises. The idea of relaxing at the nearest coffee shop has become far-fetched—everyone knows its there, and they crowd the room immediately, talking over each other while sipping the latest trendy brew.The café experience becomes too commercial, too stifling, simply too much. Sometimes, you want a place that’s a little less known, a little more special, something that’s only for you. Here are some little-known cafes to visit for a break from the usual.
Caferista, from the men behind Stoked Inc. and Stkd Surf Moto Customs, is a café that—fittingly—combines all their interests with a cup of joe. Located inside the newly-opened Stoked Zeppelin co-working and events space, Caferista is literally surrounded by surf boards and massive custom bikes. Its menu offers a variety of hot and iced brews, all sourced from El Union Coffee of Surf Town, La Union.
11 Brixton Street, Pasig City
12° North Coffee
Fairly new to the scene, 12 North Coffee (or 12 degrees North, as their logo indicates) is currently on their soft opening in Makati. But you might have already seen them before, as their pale blue Piaggio Ape coffee cart has been driving around the Metro to share their brews with everyone who needs it. Their menu offers a variety of signature coffees, single origin beans, organic teas, and blended drinks like their popular Oreo chocolate cookie shake. Interested customers can even hire the 12North cart for their events—coffee-themed wedding, anyone?
G/F BDO Equitable Tower, 8751 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City
The Giving Café
At first glance, The Giving Café (TGC) offers the usual brewed fare (bestselling drinks include the Flat White and Americano) and Pinoy comfort food (Pancit bihon, turon, cheese sticks). But TGC takes the idea of homegrown coffee up a notch, using their profits to support the local coffee farmers in La Trinidad, Benguet. Developed by Henry & Sons, one of the country’s major coffee suppliers, the café supports the Foundation for Sustainable Coffee Excellence through programs which range from providing potable drinking water in La Trinidad, to offering scholarships to coffee farmers’ children.
Sheridan corner Pines Street, Mandaluyong City
Not much has been written about Café MOH ("Moment of Happiness"), with their social media accounts containing the barest minimum of captions to describe their shop. Their space, located across the mall's Mystery Manila branch, is similarly simple - plain white walls adorned with framed photographs taken by their barista. But what does this café have that has The Curator's David Ong calling it one of his favorite cafes in Ortigas? Reviews cite a peaceful ambience and full-flavored coffee, some of which were sourced from Korea's famous Coffee Libre. "I tasted apples, grapefruit and some burnt sugar," posted @coffeecrawlerph on Instagram.
3/F Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig City
Bean and Yolk
Amidst Poblacion’s burgeoning food neighborhood is this all-day breakfast joint that specializes in coffee and eggs. Its menu boasts of a variety of egg dishes meticulously chosen through the help of family and friends (a roster that includes Backyard’s Chef Ed Bugia). Even their take on a grilled cheese sandwich, Cara’s Fave, has a runny egg wedged inside, adding extra gooeyness to the childhood fave. Coffee is single origin Brazilian Yellow Bourbon, a variety of Coffee Arabica. Try the fragrant Latte Gianduja, a frothy concoction topped with hazelnut chunks.
Unit G6 Bel-Air Soho Suites, Polaris Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Tucked away from the main roads within the Acacia Estates condominiums, Brewhilde Coffee can seem inaccessible for most people. But the illusion of remoteness is part of its charm, a private hideaway that few share. The homey space provides an equally homey menu, featuring a wide variety of dishes from regular brunch fare to heavy Pinoy mains like kaldereta and dinuguan. Brewhilde also offers a wide selection of coffee to choose from, including featured drinks every month such as Bulletproof coffee (100% CocoMCT Oil, unsalted butter and espresso) and Irish crème (double espresso and Baileys).
Acacia Town Center (behind Savemore), Acacia Estates, Greater Taguig, Taguig City
Another “hard-to-find” café, Coffee Room requires you to pass through a sports clinic on West Ave. before entering their vibrantly red door. For a tiny space, this café manages to include a tiny area for merchandise from the Boqueria Lifestyle Market, the owners’ first business. The menu offers salads, sandwiches and of course, coffee. Coffee Room is quite proud of their Viet-style Ca Phe, which some say tastes quite close to the real thing. The café is also home to the Rose Latte, a rose-infused concoction topped with petals and pistachios.
3/F Hollywood Square, Inside CMS-Asia Sports Clinic, West Avenue, Del Monte, Quezon City
Picked Café and Gallery
Picked Café is located in the old national highway in Tunasan, SLEX’s less popular sibling. Coffee distributor Equilibrium Intertrade Corp. planned to create a showroom of its different products (e.g., beans, syrup flavors, coffee roasting equipment) through Picked, creating a space that is both display and demonstration of their business’ expertise. The best part? They use their own beans, which means Picked’s coffee selection can be pretty cheap (Espresso for P40, Americano for P50, and so on), without sacrificing quality.
The Place Building, National Highway, Tunasan, Muntinlupa City