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New Food Now: Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee is Now in Manila

August 4, 2019

With so much attention brought towards describing the flavor involved in the third wave coffee movement and its other commendable efforts, one tends to miss the solitude that comes from sitting down and experiencing what that cup of coffee has to offer on its own. There are also the openings of several new branches of specialty coffee shops all over Manila, which can be overwhelming for the serious coffee drinker in search of that blend they can keep coming back to. Amid all the waves that have been rising and falling in the bustling food and beverage scene, third wave monster Intelligentsia Coffee quietly joined the ranks with a small stall over at Shangri-La Mall. Unless you’re looking out for this otherwise huge name in Chicago and New York, then you’re likely to miss Intelligentsia. Don’t let its appearances fool you: this company promises premium blends through its process of “working closely with farmers and millers in producing countries to help them overcome the hurdles.” Their mission involves assuring the farmer’s transformation from “harvester to artisan,” which we were more than pleased to taste in what they had to offer here in Manila.

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Amid all the waves that have been rising and falling in the bustling food and beverage scene, third wave monster Intelligentsia Coffee quietly joined the ranks with a small stall over at Shangri-La Mall.

Located right in front of Duck & Buvette, Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea appears as a pay as you order stall. But take a seat on one of the cozier booths and you’ll find Intelligentsia’s menu ready for ordering, back to back with Duck & Buvette’s snack options. Like other third wave coffee stores, Intelligentsia keeps its menu simple and straightforward with four pour over coffee options: there’s their signature Dark Roast, the El Diablo, the Black Cat Classic from Carmo de Minas, Brazil and the Black Cat Decaf from Sao Sebastiao, Brazil. Their current Single Origin of the Month is the Flecha Roja Costa Rica from Tarrazu. All their pour over options are priced at a reasonable PHP 160. For our visit, we opted for their current best sellers: the El Diablo and the Black Cat Classic. We were also hoping to try some of their espresso options, but the barista informed us that they couldn’t serve it at the time due to the machine’s recalibration problems. Their stall also features an entire jar of filtered water that is used for their cold brew.

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Intelligentsia keeps its menu simple and straightforward with four pour over coffee options.

Upon ordering our coffees however, the barista immediately started getting our two pour over orders ready. The stall’s pour over setup only requires the staff to replace the filter and the roast before slowly allowing the hot water to do its magic. There’s a line of three cups ready for pouring over, so they were able to immediately prepare both orders at the same time. The staff also suggested trying their Ghiraldelli Fudge to go with the coffee. To mix things up a bit, we also ordered a pot of the King Crimson Organic Tea. They also serve other staples like earl grey, breakfast blend, and jasmine green and you get more than enough with their huge pot serving at PHP 120.

Both their coffee and tea are served with a tiny butter cookie. The barista suggested we try both coffees without any sugar and milk, which we fulfilled upon the first sip of both drinks. The Black Cat Classic was consistently smooth, yet still delivered that “strong” flavor regular coffee drinkers are used to. But instead of overwhelming you all at once, the Black Cat Classic was able to unfold that strong roast flavor slowly, and thus was true to its description of being “supremely balanced.” The El Diablo had a stronger finish but distinguished itself with notes of a chocolatey flavor. The El Diablo’s taste wasn’t compromised when we mixed it in with a little milk. The Ghiraldelli Fudge was soft and decadent on its own, but a few more bites made it a bit too sweet after a while. If you like bitter upon bitter, then the fudge brownie works. Otherwise, the free cookie that comes with the coffee is a suitable partner without the extra cost.

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A nice surprise was the Organic King Crimson tea. It was served in a huge pot that let us have cup after cup of this soothing, citrusy but sweet tea. I imagine this would be the go to order of anyone looking to unwind on a weekend afternoon or a good order to share with your mother, aunt, or grandmother on a family day out.

But the impact of taste can only go so far in getting the word out that Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea is here to redefine how we drink two staple beverages.

After the smooth and simple experience from both blends, I knew I couldn’t turn my back on Intellgentsia coffee. Right after you check out the stall, there’s an entire shelf that sells the House Blend, Black Cat Classic Espresso, Los Immortales El Salvador Roasted Coffee beans at ¾ lb or 340 g for PHP 1,250 an order. But the impact of taste can only go so far in getting the word out that Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea is here to redefine how we drink two staple beverages. We hope that they’re able to pop up at more events and bring their simple yet flavorful blends to individuals on-the-go and those who wish to brew some more at home.

Have you tried Intellgentsia Coffee & Tea here in Manila and in the US? How do they compare? Do you think it will fare in the current wave of third wave coffee?

Intelligentsia Coffee
2/F Main Wing,
Shangri-La Plaza Mall, EDSA
Mandaluyong, Philippines

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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4 comments in this post SHOW

4 responses to “New Food Now: Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee is Now in Manila”

  1. Volts Sanchez says:

    I’m going on record to say that coffee places (no matter what wave they’re part of) without smoking areas are not likely to get my money.

  2. Mark Azarea says:

    And I’m going on record to say that Coffee places without smoking areas are definitely going to get my money.

  3. Robert says:

    Is there a price list please? thank you.

  4. Vernon Serafico says:

    El Diablo’s aroma was fine to perfect. The taste chocolatey, my favorite. Sometimes, recalibration of skills or review of the pour over method are needed to maintain and be able to serve good quality coffee. It is sad that the El Diablo, i got today taste a bit papery 🙁

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