For a lot of us, coffee is a necessity in this crazy world. It gets us to function in the morning when our brain cells are still half asleep and it keeps our eyes from closing on us when we need to pull all-nighters. Let’s admit it, we run on caffeine and we can’t live without the stuff!
We’ve all seen the coffee game get stronger here in Metro Manila, and now, it’s all about who produces the highest quality brews. Filipinos have become quite the coffee aficionados as well, expressing our appreciation for the drink with words like “nutty,” “fruity,” and “earthy.” How fancy!
So if you’re that person who breaks down without at least one cup a day, we’ve rounded up the top 10 coffee places in the Metro that have gotten the highest ratings on looloo for the first half of 2015.
10. CafferaAverage Rating: 3.90/5.00
Caffera, Manila’s first photography-themed cafe, will make any camera lover swoon. It may not be the most spacious cafe out there (it can fit 8 to 10 people) but it has gone all out with its interiors, displaying eye-catching bits and pieces that make the place picture-perfect. Artsy photographs and vintage film SLRs are mounted on the walls, old lenses have been recycled into hanging light fixtures, and they even serve their coffee in lens tumblers! As Phoebe Q. has said on her looloo review, every inch of Caffera is Instagrammable.
The creativity spills on to their menu, with coffee concoctions like X-Pro Espresso, Mocha Frapperture, and ISO Americano. Their drink sizes come in variants of Pixel (regular) and Megapixel (large). Prices are very reasonable too, with their most expensive drinks at only ₱140. So if you’re a photography nerd and need some caffeine buzz at the same time, give Caffera a shot!
Caffera can be found at 2/F Dona Zenona Suites, 54 Maginhawa St. cor. Mahusay St., Quezon City.
9. Local EditionAverage Rating: 3.93/5.00
This third wave coffee shop along Perea street is a sight for sore eyes but there’s a lot more to it than just its pretty facade. Staying true to its name, it is an avid supporter of all things local and it is not shy about it! Up on its grid walls, you’lll see their art installations that rotate frequently and feature works by various Filipino talents. This cafe is also the genius behind #thebookprojectmanila, a pay-it-forward scheme that allows customers to take a book home by leaving one of theirs behind (preferably with a short written note of kindness!)
Its patronage for Pinoy products extends to coffee too, using only local beans to create its one and only Perea brew. On looloo, the coffee addicts are raving about their Tablocha, a rich mocha coffee drink infused with Filipino tablea chocolate said to have the perfect blend of sweet and bitter flavors. The velvety Flat White is another favorite, simply because it is strong and will give you the caffeine jolt you need. Local Edition also does this cute thing where they leave an iced gem biscuit on top of your drink so that you feel all happy inside.
Local Edition can be found at 116 Perea St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
8. Starbucks ReserveAverage Rating: 4.34/5.00
This particular reserve in Tomas Morato trumps all other branches when it comes to size. It is Starbucks on steroids! Tables are abundant here and so are power outlets, making it a conducive place for busy bees to get things done (you might have to compete for space come intense hell weeks though, because law and med students have been known to camp out here!) But aside from it being huge, this Starbucks Reserve is also home to exotic brews that are only available for short periods of time!
Some of their intriguing concoctions on their current roster are the Columbia Tolima, a combination of dark chocolate and toasted walnut flavors, the Peru Amazonas, said to be bright with a burnt sugar aftertaste, the Kenya Sangana, an aromatic brew that has black currant and Assam tea notes, and the East Timor Ermera, a blend of floral and citrus essence. Get chatty with the friendly baristas to know more about these limited edition Starbucks Reserve coffees and feel like a real connoisseur!
Starbucks Reserve has branches all over the metro.
7. Subspace Coffee HouseAverage Rating: 4.23/5.00
You’d think it’s just another run-of-the-mill cafe in Ortigas, but enter Subspace and you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into the recesses of a whimsical artist’s brain and seen what it’s like to have so many intricate thoughts and ideas at once.
Thor Balanon, the creative visionary behind Subspace, has transformed the tiny coffee house into a physical representation of all his passions and interests in life, which include K-Pop, comic books, and geek culture. The interiors are inspired by a mix and match of various fandoms, making the space an interesting treat for the eyes.
But don’t worry, it’s got your coffee needs covered too! It’s bestseller, the Purple Potato Latte, is an odd concoction of coffee and sweet potato that works surprisingly well. The potato makes for a thicker drink while the coffee provides the bittersweet flavor. But what Subspace is really proud about is its skill in latte art. Talented baristas are able to draw up anything upon request. Remember to take a picture of their masterpiece before you take your first big gulp!
Subspace Coffee House can be found at G/F Grand Emerald Tower, F. Ortigas Jr. Rd., Ortigas Center, Pasig.
6. Yardstick CoffeeAverage Rating: 4.20/5.00
It’s not difficult to fall in love with Yardstick. It’s a minimalist, no-frills space where you can be yourself in. When life gets too overwhelming (cue in dramatic background music), you can take refuge in this coffee house to relax, bask in the natural light that streams in from its big windows, maybe read a good book, or catch up with a buddy. It’s in a quiet part of Legazpi Village so the rest of the world’s noise won’t be a bother to you.
But what really keeps people in love with Yardstick is its straight-up, no pretentions approach to coffee. To produce their specialty drinks, Yardstick uses coffee machines that are handmade and flown in all the way from Italy.
They keep the preparation process open too, so you can watch as the baristas work their magic. looloo reviewers are all about the classic Flat White, the Yard Shake (their take on a frappuccino), and the Bitter, Sweet, and Toasty (their version of an affogato). Yardstick’s coffee drinks do not go easy on the caffeine though, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself still awake at 4AM!
Yardstick can be found at G/F Universal LMS Bldg., 106 Esteban St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
5. Kuppa Roastery & CafeAverage Rating: 4.20/5.00
Kuppa Roastery & Cafe is an old family business that started out in Bacolod. People from Manila got wind of how good their food and drinks are and wanted a branch of their own. Fortunately for the coffee enthusiasts of the Metro, Kuppa (pronounced as “cup-pa”) finally gave in to demands and set up a cafe in the heart of BGC. With its homey ambiance and fresh coffee, it draws in the big crowds of corporate bosses and young professionals who always seem to have a need for a caffeine pick-me-up.
Kuppa has gone the extra mile with its beverages, being the first cafe in the country to roast its beans in-house. With at least 60 years of coffee roasting experience under its belt and having mastered 3 methods of brewing coffee (namely the French Press, AeroPress, and V60 Pourover), it’s safe to call Kuppa a coffee expert. On looloo, the easy favorites from their menu seem to be Ben’s Cappuccino and the Nutcracker Latte.
Kuppa Roastery & Cafe can be found at the CommerCenter, 4th Ave. cor. 31st St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
4. UCC ClockworkAverage Rating: 4.47/5.00
For the non-coffee connoisseurs out there, it might be intimidating to step into a cafe that specifically serves third wave coffee. But once you’re inside, you’ll realize that UCC is no snob and actually has a very friendly vibe to it.
They make their coffee not just to impress the elite few, but to educate anyone and everyone who wants to learn about the work that goes into making the perfect cup. There are no holds barred in this place; you can touch the coffee machines displayed around the area and ask the baristas questions that have always boggled your mind about coffee. You can even make your way to the second floor for a bird’s eye view of the baristas in action!
On looloo, there has been a lot of talk about UCC Clockwork’s Judy on the Rocks, a charcoal roasted coffee drink topped with cream and salted honey, said to have both extremely sweet and bitter flavors at the same time. Another popular concoction is the Kori Kohi, a drink deconstructed into three parts: the warm milk, the sugar syrup, and the glass of coffee ice cubes. Mixing all them together makes for a very refreshing drink!
UCC Clockwork has branches in Bluebay Walk, Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay and Estancia, Capitol Commons in Pasig.
3. The CuratorAverage Rating: 4.31/5.00
Locating The Curator on your first attempt could get very frustrating, especially if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of Makati. It doesn’t help either that this place doesn’t have a sign to let people know where it is. But finding it gives you a sense of achievement and a feeling that you’re privy to a really cool secret. It’s a got a chill vibe to it that hardworking citizens can easily relax into. And as Alex O. wrote on his looloo review, the baristas here take friendliness to another level by mingling with their customers, making you feel like you’re just kicking it back at a friend’s house.
At night, The Curator serves up cocktails, but come morning, it transforms into a coffee shop that offers a wide selection of carefully crafted drinks to perk up the senses. If you’re not too sure on what to get, ask the baristas to surprise you and they will rise to the occasion. Some looloo reviewers have been given the Dark Matter Theory, a shock of strong espresso balanced with the richness of dark chocolate. Others have been presented with the WOW (Winds of Winter) which is a seasonal espresso blend. Let them know what you’re in the mood for and see what you get!
The Curator can be found at the Cyrano Wine Shop, 134 Legazpi St. cor. C. Palanca St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
2. Craft Coffee RevolutionAverage Rating: 4.26/5.00
Now that Craft Coffee has arrived in Katipunan, the stressed out student zombies of the nearby colleges have something to rejoice about. Alumni are probably wishing they had a spot that supplied them with high quality caffeine when they were the ones toiling away in school.
The usual word that comes to mind when describing Craft is “hipster,” with its dim lights, industrial interiors, and art-covered walls. But we have to admit, we love everything that’s hipster, no matter how cliche it all gets. Craft has the perfect ambiance for brooding artists, creative crafters, bookworms, or anyone who just wants some space away from the hustle and bustle of life. Plus, they have delicious brews to re-energize your tired souls.
On looloo, the usual default drinks are the Iced Mocha, the Flat White, and the Cappuccino, all of which will give you that jolt you need. Craft’s cold coffee drinks have also been getting great reviews, particularly the Ethiopian and Brazilian brews which are said to be less acidic but powerful in flavor.
Craft Coffee Revolution has several branches all over the metro.
1. Toby’s Estate CoffeeAverage Rating: 4.47/5.00
Books out, faces down, and coffee ready. This is the usual scenario at Toby’s Estate, Ortigas Center. You can’t help but want to work or study in this cafe because the atmosphere just calls for it. The white washed brick walls, the long communal table, and the overall clean and crisp environment automatically programs your brain to be productive! And the fact that there’s strong coffee to help you last the whole day is very motivating.
Toby’s Estate is a speciality coffee shop that was founded in Australia in 2011; but it soon found its way into the local market through four Filipino caffeine lovers who wanted to share their passion for artisan coffee with the rest of Manila. Hats off to them! Their first branches were in Makati and Taguig but they’ve recently obliged to meet the coffee demands of the people in Pasig.
The favorite drink among looloo reviewers is something you’d have to specially request for because it isn’t on the menu! The Gilbratar, which is a ristretto topped with Holly’s milk and foam, will shock your senses in the best way possible. Other popular drinks are the Mocha and the Flat White.
Toby’s Estate Coffee has several branches all over the metro.