People Watching: 10 Types of People You’ll Find At Almost Any Coffee Shop In Manila


Not only do coffee shops in Manila provide ready-to-go caffeine boosts, they also happen to be excellent entertainment venues for everyone’s favorite slightly pakialamero pastime: people-watching!

With a Starbucks along every major street, or a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf around almost every corner, it’s not surprising that cafes end up becoming a melting pot of unique personalities and characters.

Differences aside though, there always seem to be a few of these people around:

1. Power Outlet Hoggers

Laptops-Manila Coffee-Shop

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They could be caffeine-fueled students, freelance writers, or people who just have to see what’s going around on Facebook. These days, it’s next to impossible to find a coffee shop without a bunch of people plugged into that ONE available power outlet you so desperately need. You also can’t help but find yourself impressed by the resourceful bunch who came prepared and brought their own extension cord.

2. The Condiment Hoarder


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Admit it, we ALL know someone who’s done this. When nobody’s around, the packet hoarder makes her way over to the condiments section and somehow leaves with 1,248 packets of low-calorie sweetener and 592 sachets of creamer in her purse. Covert Ops right in front of your eyes, people.

3. The People Sobering Up

Sobering Up Manila Coffee Shop

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Most coffee shops stay open long into the night, which is perfect for early Saturday morning pick-me-ups after a night of heavy drinking. You’ll mostly see these creatures of the night at cafes in the BGC or Makati area, but with the newly-imposed drunk driving law, expect more frequent sightings of them in the near future.

4. The Reuinon-ers

Reunioners-Manila Coffee-Shop

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“OMIGOOOOD! Long time no seeeeee!!!” *beso beso beso*

Dressed in traditional tita garb, all made-up and with their shnaziest handbags in tow, or maybe college friends rekindling the good old days, reunion-ers have a tendency to jack up the coffee shop’s average noise level by more than a few decibels. Cafes are great for get-togethers, but when big groups are around, they’re not very ideal for anyone trying to get any kind of work done.

5. The Telebabad


They’ve got their phones practically glued to their ears and forget that there are probably 20 other people in the room who can hear them. We wonder if they’re even aware of the fact that they’re sharing their business deals, sob stories, or the latest barkada break-up with everyone else around them.

6. The PDA Daters

Couples-Manila Coffee-Shop

But if it’s Ross and Rachel, we don’t mind.

Comfortable couches and loveseats at some coffee shops seem to have given lovey-dovey couples license to turn cafes into their own public landian spaces. Sometimes it’s sweet, but just like the coffee they’re taking, it’s never good to go overboard on the “sugar” when in public.

7. The Regulars


They never get their names spelled wrong. Photo from

Regulars are the people (often overzealously) greeted by name the second they walk through the door. Baristas know their orders almost by heart, always spell their names right, and are more than willing to share a bit of small talk with them when able. Clever marketing and great customer service? Whatever it is, it sure keeps these guys coming back for more.

8. The Coffee Run “Taya

Taya-Manila Coffee-Shop

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When you see just one guy looking slightly downtrodden, ordering 10 cups of coffee to go, you just know that he’s the daily coffee-run mule. If you see him on his way out, it might be a nice gesture to hold the door open for him. He’s got it pretty rough as it is, after all.

9. Businesspeople


Some cafes have become favorite meeting points for colleagues talking business, multi-level marketers, or even the occasional buy-and-sell meet-ups between strangers. While enjoying your hot cup of joe next time, try imagining what kind of multi-million peso deals (or scams) are going on in the table next to you.

10. The Seasonal Sticker Collector


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I hope whoever thought up the idea of giving planners away during the holiday season got a promotion. When the “ber” months come around, even people who DON’T like coffee end up getting in line at coffee shops in order to score one of those much-coveted stickers to fill up their booklets. Oh, and that look of joy (and relief) on their faces when they finally do? Priceless.

For live sightings of these people, you’ll find the closest branch of your favorite coffee chain here:

Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks Reserve

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Bo’s Coffee

Figaro Coffee Company

Seattle’s Best Coffee

Also check out a few of these popular Third Wave/Indie Coffee joints:

Craft Coffee Revolution

Toby’s Estate Coffee

Yardstick Coffee

Subspace Coffee House

Magnum Opus

Kuppa Roastery & Cafe

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About Author

EJ dela Vega

You'll find EJ rummaging through refrigerators for unlabeled leftovers, earning him the nickname, "The Finisher." He's got a knack for magic tricks too, his best one being the ability to make food on his plate (or anyone else's for that matter) disappear in the blink of an eye. Too damn cheap to be picky, he once ate several slices of pizza doused in Robitussin... just because he can.