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THE ULTIMATE LIST: 5 Homegrown Cafés That Turn Drinking Coffee Into An Adventure

Let’s meet for coffee. The next time you hear this line, know that it’s actually an invitation to adventure because, in the sprawling metropolis that is Manila, coffee is one of the most fascinating gastronomic treasures just waiting to be discovered. The choices are many. You might have an Italian espresso, an Australian flat white, a Japanese-inspired siphon brew, even coffee made via Norwegian aeropress, with a choice of coffee beans from as far away as Ethiopia or as close to home as Cavite. It’s never been so eclectic and exciting. If you don’t know where to start, here are five homegrown cafés that all serve up their own unique coffee experience.


SGD Coffee 

45 Maalalahanin Street, Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City, (0917) 826-9537

Every single cup is a flavor snapshot of the coffee beans’ place of origin from the chilly ridges of Sagada. Whether you like your coffee chocolatey, fruity, or even flowery, you’ll find something here to please. Owners Rich and Margaret Watanabe have an advocacy to promote Philippine coffee so they carry a wonderful range of really excellent local beans. Ask for the typica, a subvariety of arabica that is specially grown on their family farm in Sagada. And check out their Coffee Science Center, also on the premises, where they offer coffee appreciation workshops, sensory classes, barista training, and even intensive programs on applied coffee farming science.


Brew Atelier Coffee Studio 

Rock Plaza Building, Mindanao Avenue, Quezon City, (02) 257-5752 

This tiny café is not easy to find, but it’s a veritable gold mine for the caffeine addicts who live in the north of Manila, where specialty coffee shops are scarce. You’ll find rare beans that owner Ron Yu has sourced from his travels—everything from single origin beans from Myanmar to special blends from Ethiopia, and there are always quality local beans available. Ron also does roast-on-demand specialty coffees. This August, these include Colombia Geisha, Jamaica Blue Mountain Juniper Peak, Hacienda Esmeralda Geisha Private Collection beans. The café attracts coffee obsessives from all walks of life, so be prepared to have some rather intense conversations about beans and brewing—but that’s all part of Brew Atelier’s appeal.


Habitual Coffee 

Visit IG: @habitualcoffee or FB: habitual coffee for list of branches 

Hipster third wave cafés don’t come friendlier than Habitual Coffee, which is co-owned by the Kaye Ong who bagged third place in the 2015 World Aeropress Championship. If you’re having coffee here, make sure to try the aeropress at least once—you won’t be disappointed. The bean selection is very much influenced by the travels of Kaye and her partners, and it is part of the fun to find about about their provenance. Feel free to chat up the baristas, inspect the beans—even smell them. They carry Kalsada Coffee’s single origin Pigtauranan beans grown in Bukidnon, known for their smooth, clean floral notes. If you want to try something new, ask for the frozen flat white, or the 100% Filipino mocha made using coffee beans from Naguey in Benguet, cacao from South Cotabato, and milk from Lipa.



Enriquez Street, Poblacion, Makati City, (02) 728-2433 

Imagine lounging in the cool dimness of a quintessential man cave, sipping a perfectly pulled cortado while a killer playlist thrums in the background. OTO is a craft cocktail bar, specialty coffee shop, and music lounge in one—the perfect place to hang out morning or evening. Most of its regulars trickle in after hours for the cocktails, but OTO opens early enough to serve a really satisfactory breakfast that you should have with the specialty coffee (or a cocktail designed to wake you up). The menu is curated to match with the booze, the ambience relaxed and classy, and they carry an extremely well-chosen selection of coffee beans, some of which are roasted by sister company The Curator.


YDG Coffee 

Mandala Park, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City, (0917) 550-7207, IG: @ydgcoffee 

The name is short for Your Daily Grind, which immediately tells you that not only do they grind their beans fresh every single day, but that this coffee shop is focused on technical perfection and quality beans. They’re also serious about environmental sustainability, so this is the only cafe in town that runs solely on solar power and practices zero waste management. The owners have links with El Union Cafe, and teamed up with Plain Sight Coffee, a roasting company that allows them to source great beans internationally. Spacious, with natural light and lots of repurposed wood, it’s a really great place to hang out for work or play. Try the sourdough breads and the flat whites that they make with farm-fresh milk.

YDG Coffee photos courtesy of @ydgcoffee 

Habitual Coffee photos courtesy of @habitualcoffee

OTO photos courtesy of