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Ride the (Third) Wave: Pepper’s Guide to Artisanal Coffee Shops in Metro Manila

April 11, 2014

With the dozens of artsy coffee photos cluttering up our Instagram and Facebook feeds every single day, it’s clear that the artisanal coffee movement is turning heads and making converts among the caffeine junkies of Metro Manila. Not one corner of the city has been spared from this growing trend. If you want to see what all the fuss is about for yourself, our guide will help you find the nearest craft coffee shop to your home or office.

One disclaimer, though, we know that this is far from a fully comprehensive guide. New coffee houses are popping up everywhere, and newcomers like Toby’s Estate, EDSA Beverage Development Group, and Coffee Empire can give some of the shops listed here a run for their money. Still, our list can easily help you get started on your coffee odyssey.

Luna Specialty Coffee

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Luna can be hard to find for first timers, but it’s also hard to leave once you’re in that door. Coffee choices include their version of Kapeng Barako (with a special mug that changes color as you drink), their smooth and mild Luna Brew, and the sweet Iced Piccolo.

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The place is perfect for cozy and intimate gatherings. While the shop does have an abundance of electrical outlets for customers to use, the place does not have WiFi, free or otherwise. You can easily study, read, or write here without getting distracted by the Internet.

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Aside from coffee, Luna also offers a diverse menu of Filipino breakfast fare such as their Angus Tapa and Egg in Flat Pandesal and the Smoked Bangus with Garlic Tuyo Rice.

Location: Ground Floor, NAC Tower. 32nd St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Commune

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Located on the quieter side of the Makati Central Business District, Commune serves some of the best coffee in the city, brewed from locally sourced blends. Whether you’re starting the day with a cup of Americano or need a little milk from the Cafe Latte, each serving promises a lot of Arabica with a little Robusta.

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They also serve Filipino dishes like Longganiza, Chicken Tocino, Tapa, Sinigang na Baboy, Nilaga, Pritong Tilapia, and many more. They also have quite a few sandwiches.

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Commune is also introducing a new cold-brewed coffee to their menu today. Drop by for a visit to try it out for yourself.

Location: Liberty Center, 104 H.V. Dela Costa, Makati

Department of Coffee

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Literally a hole in the wall along Wilson Street in San Juan, Department of Coffee is a tiny café catering to nearby residents with a hankering for some specialty coffee. Servers inform customers when the beans for each batch they serve were first roasted. They also let you pick between blends according to their origins. Each coffee order, be it a latte, cappuccino, macchiato, or americano, comes with a 2 fl. oz. double shot espresso. You could also customize each order by adding chocolate mocha, caramel, or whipped cream. Pair any of the drinks with their freshly baked cakes or just drop by to try their squid ink croissant.

Location: 197 Wilson St., San Juan, Metro Manila

Craft Coffee

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We’ve featured Craft Coffee Workshop before, and this list wouldn’t have been possible without them in the first place. Craft was one of the first ones to introduce us to a different way of looking at coffee, educating clueless city slickers about everything from the familiar bitter flavor of dark roasts to subtler Ethiopian blends.

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Aside from selling some of the best cups of joe in Manila, Craft Coffee also sells supplies and equipment for serious drinkers who want to grind their own beans or brew their own blends. Since that first café in New Manila, Craft Coffee has also opened a new branch in Katipunan.

Location: 88 Loyola Serviced Residences, Quezon City, Quezon City

Yardstick Coffee

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Yardstick may be one of the younger players in the artisanal coffee scene, but they’re quickly emerging as a serious player in this growing industry. It’s not just a cafe, after all, but also a place for casual enthusiasts and professional baristas to learn and improve their craft. They have a coffee machine showroom, and there’s ample space to serve as a venue for all sorts of gatherings.

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Whether you’re an office worker dropping in for their daily caffeine fix or a freelancer fueled by their 12-hour cold brew, Yardstick consistently delivers in terms of quality. Regulars will be pleased to know that they’ve also added a new timely item, the Yard Shake to help beat the summer heat.

Location: G/F Universal LMS Building, 106 Esteban Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City

Magnum Opus Fine Coffees

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Southerners need not pay the crazy Skyway toll just for a taste of some artisanal coffee. Magnum Opus offers a diverse set of choices for their customers. Their black coffees include classics like the espresso shot as well as single-origin hand-brewed drinks. Their white coffees vary according to the milk level, from the Piccolo latte’s espresso milk to the shaken chilled latte. One consistent favorite among regulars that everyone should try is the Belgian Heartbreaker.

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Oh, before I forget to mention it, they also have an awesome TARDIS restroom to keep Whovians occupied.

Location: 115 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque

The Curator

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The Curator has long left behind its small beginnings as a pop-up coffee/cocktail bar. They now welcome regulars and curious customers alike in their special little space behind the Cyrano Wine Bar. Though it also moonlights as a speakeasy, The Curator remains a welcoming space—the kind you visit for a quiet start to your day. I recommend all first timers to try their YKW Ethiopian Blend.

Location: 134 Legazpi St. cor C. Palanca St., 1229 Makati City

Gela Velasco Gela Velasco

Gela is a young adult slowly settling into her late twenties. She likes to make a mess in the kitchen when no one’s looking, dance till dawn on long weekends, and dream about beef on lazy afternoons. On some days she learns how to write good in graduate school. Her life goals include sashaying somewhat like Beyonce and to write a cover story on Leonardo di Caprio.

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9 comments in this post SHOW

9 responses to “Ride the (Third) Wave: Pepper’s Guide to Artisanal Coffee Shops in Metro Manila”

  1. Johann says:

    I love Subspace, from the interior design to the beverages to their Big Bang waffle! So sinful.

  2. Lars Roxas says:

    Commune new cold-brew coffee is fantastic. I really really like it.

    • gela velasco says:

      Oh! Mapatry nga tomorrow morning 😛
      I made a very NSFW face apparently when I tried the Belgian Heartbreaker :))) Everyone should try it.

    • Rosario Juan says:

      Yey! Thanks 🙂 I make the cold brew myself…because it’s like mad scientist experiment. hahaha!!!

  3. Volts Sanchez says:

    I’ve been to:

    1. Subspace- I find the Kpop thing entertaining, but it’s a little tight inside. The purple yam latte is odd but tasty.

    2. Commune- Ross is just crazy about good coffee. She’s crazy fun, too. And the coffee is crazy good too.

    3. Craft- I’ve had the coffee without visiting the actual place (they were at the PhilMUG Christmas party in ’12, I believe). Good stuff.

    4. Magnum Opus- The South’s best coffee. ‘Nuff said. Jon Choi is (pardon the tired expression) just genuinely passionate about his beans, and it shows.

    5. The Curator- Ok, that’s a cop-out. I’ve been there at night for alcohol and never had their coffee. Still, ‘sup Sly?

    Visit Toby’s Estate (the one in Salcedo) and have a Gibraltar (off-menu, double ristretto). Then have a patty melt. Then thank me 😉

  4. Paul says:

    Been to The Curator many times now, love that place, coffee is superb except that its quite closed in and a bit dark. Yardstick, on the other hand, has a great ambiance but coffee is not quite as good.

    My problem with all the “third wave” places is the lack of good food! I need a place for good coffee and breakfast (other than wildflour in the fort that is, which is great).

    Visited Toby’s Estate and, as an Australian, was pretty disappointed. Service was shocking, coffee was better than starbucks but not by much. I’ll go back and check out the Gibralter sometime soon.

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