9 Quiet Coffee Shops for Productive Afternoons

Let's face it. Not every coffee shop is a coffice.

We have a mighty respect for freelancers. While those of us trapped in a cubicle really have nothing better to do than to get on with the work e-mails, it takes an intense amount of concentration and determination to get going instead of, well, doing other things. Do it at home and the vicinity of the bed is too much of a temptation to be truly motivated. Then there's that lingering, nagging feeling to just binge-watch The Flash. If it were us, we'd probably sneak in an episode or two, and then, suddenly, it's 2 in the morning (of the next day).


Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. Home can be trouble to non-cubicle dwellers so coffee shops became a sanctuary for those determined to hustle. But not all coffee shops are conducive to working (no matter how much they try to sell you that). Most of them are pretty noisy with students busy hunched over groupwork, drowsy lighting, and a cold temperature meant for copious amounts of coffee drinking and, to be honest, a blanket and a bed.

We scoured the Metro for coffee shops that will actually get you cracking.



1| Toby’s Estate (Ortigas)

Yes, it has to be the Ortigas branch if you want to get any work done! Toby’s Estate on Ruby Road between the inner lanes of Ortigas was a somewhat out of the blue choice for a branch, but that may have been the point. Toby’s provides bigger-than-usual tables so you can have room for your laptop, your coffee, your water and all the other things you need when you’re trying to work. Architect Chut Cuerva designed it to be especially for the working crowd—complete with outlets around every corner. The ambience is all about white walls and large, open space, so even when the place is crowded, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. When you’re not having one of their famous Ghana chocolate-spiked Mochas, try a sip of their Chai Tea Latté with a slice of Bruce Bogtrotter cake. Life-changing.  

Toby’s Estate is at Robinsons Cybergate Beta, Ruby Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City; Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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2| Habitual Coffee (Chino Roces Avenue)

Fans of the third wave revolution whisper Habitual Coffee’s name with hushed reverence. Trust us, it’s worth the trip to Makati. Come for the AeroPress machine made coffee specially created by award-winning baristas and stay for that gorgeous, marbled Ice White coffee. Although you may not be able to stay long, unless you snag one of those bench seats, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something just by picking up your coffee there. The Chino Roces warehouse space is small and hard to find, making it our choice branch to work alone in and still look cool (but only for an hour or two because metal chairs are uncomfortable).

Habitual Coffee is at 2135 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City; Mondays to Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


3| Eight Ounce Coffee and Kitchen

Eight Ounce is probably the last place anyone would expect to find you working. You’ll find Eight Ounce Coffee in the shop area of the Filoil gas station on Shaw Boulevard. It doesn’t get more hidden than that. Try to snag the long tables if you’ve got a lot of work to do, as the smaller booth tables may not be big enough. This little hiding spot prepares their specialty Douwe Egberts and Piazza di Oro coffee any way that suits your fancy, but the cold brew comes highly recommended. It’s a good place to feel peckish, as they have a full menu of food to chose from.


Eight Ounce Coffee and Kitchen is at 1227 Pasig Boulevard, Pasig City; Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.


4| Catabolic Café

You can find Catabolic at the very end of Malingap street, the part of ‘Maginhawa’ that hasn’t yet been invaded by food parks. The Nix Alanon-designed space is a small, straightforward coffee shop that serves coffee with beans from EDSA Beverage Design Group, so you know it’s good stuff. Get your coffee with a slice of rainbow cheesecake, just so you feel whimsical while you work, or the chicken and waffles if you need fortification. The area may be small, but that’s to your advantage, especially if you manage to snag a table. Don't bring a friend if you're here to work—it’s so comfortable that the two of you will likely end up talking to each other than doing any actual work.


Catabolic Café is at 22 Malingap Street, Teachers Village West, Quezon City; Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.


5| Common Folk Coffee Bar

While sitting in traffic along White Plains Avenue, Common Folk’s location is surprisingly blink-and-you’ll-miss it. It’s like that cave full of treasure in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The only ones who can find it are the ones who know where it is, which is how we like it. Common Folk sits just on the edge of the third coffee wave, priding themselves in being a place that even the casual drinker can enjoy. But while you go there for the coffee, make sure you try their sandwiches. They look so fancy and taste amazing! The space is well lit and Pinterest-pretty, but you may find yourself gazing at their gorgeous ‘no bad days’ neon signage when your mind starts to wander.   


Common Folk Coffee Bar is at 79 Katipunan Avenue White Plains, Quezon City; Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.


6| Caffeinated by Mozaic Living

Work among the titas at a coffee shop hiding inside a furniture store. There’s only one place to work here, and the seats around the long wooden table of the café are mismatched so it’s hard to say how long you can manage to sit still. Not to mention that someone may just buy your chair while you’re sitting on it. But the café is pretty as they come, and it should be a nice break to think about which of the bespoke furniture pieces for sale will look good in your dream home. Their coffees come strong, but the affogato is the true winner.

Caffeinated by Mozaic Living is at 7 Sheridan Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City; Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed on Sundays.



7| Writer’s Block

This place is closer to an after work venue, but you can still manage to squeeze in a couple of hours of productivity before your friends come over and you switch to alcohol. Writer’s Block is partially hidden in The Alley at Karrivin, a super cool artists’ hub on Chino Roces Extension. The place actually used to be a photo copy shop, making it one of the tiniest coffee shops on this list. Expect to find yourself huddling over a laptop-size table with no room for your coffee cup. But don’t mind that because you’re busy trying to decide if you’re getting an Earl Grey Martini or a classic Irish Coffee. 

Writer’s Block is at The Alley at Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City; Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.



8| Tenant Manila

We’ve gone through gas stations, furniture stores and a warehouse, what could possibly be next? A retail store, that’s what. Boasting of unique boutique items and a carefully curated playlist, Tenant Manila has become quite popular with the student and working crowd in its relatively hidden location on Kamagong Street in Makati. Working here may feel a lot like working in a friend’s living room, if only your friend sold a surfboard or two. If you’re starting to get sick of coffee (gasp!), try one of their homemade sodas, or their crazy good pastries.

Tenant Manila is at G/F Solace Hotel, 9639 Kamagong Street, San Antonio, Makati City; Monday to Saturday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.


9| Bucky’s (Parañaque)

If you’re as big a fan of Toby’s Estate, then you will know that the gigantic bricks of delicious brownie/revel bar hybrids are from Bucky’s in Parañaque. Lucky for you, they have a small space on Aguirre Street so you can have your Bucky while you work. The shop itself is on the second floor of a building, and the climb is steep, making the location perfectly hidden. Take up one of the counter seats facing the window for optimal light and possible people-watching. Bucky’s coffee came from Yardstick, which is a perfect partner for their cake/fudge hybrid bakes. You may tell everyone you came for the coffee, but really, it’s the Bucky that makes your toes curl and motivate you to keep on working.


Bucky’s Counter is at Mezzanine Level, JJACC Building, 169 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City; Monday to Thursday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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Carla de Guzman
Carla de Guzman (@somemidnights) is the author of Cities, If The Dress and Midnights in Bali (soon with Anvil's Spark Books imprint). She likes watching TV and eating between books while tackling her giant TBR pile.
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