IMAGE Toto Labrador

Top 10 Secret Coffee Spots in Manila

...for when you want to hide from the world.

(SPOT.ph) It’s been a while since designer coffee became a big deal in this city, and since then coffee aficionados have been popping up all over the Metro with under-the-radar cafés featuring good music, great coffee, and a knack for design. Blink and you’ll miss them, these low-profile places get high marks all around and deserve a lot more attention.

 

All SPOT.ph Top 10 lists are researched, paid for, tested, and selected by the writers and editors. They are discreetly conducted without any notice made to the restaurants or their owners. Hotel-run restaurants were not considered for this list.

 


 

10. Equatorial Coffee

Students around the UP-Ateneo area and purveyors of all things crafty at nearby shop Common Room have a little space to call home in Equatorial Coffee. Being in a university area instantly makes multiple cups of coffee a day acceptable, and it’s quite nice that students and professors get more choices around this busy street. Equatorial has all the basics your little coffee shop needs—quick bites, varied seating (tables and bar stools), even the ubiquitous wall mural explaining the origins of coffee. For something unique and different, try their Angry Black (P150)—a long black infused with pressurized soda water over ice with a hint of lemon—so much better than a cola.

 

Equatorial Coffee is at 325 Miranda Building, Katipunan Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street, Loyola Heights, Quezon City (366-0241)

 


 

9. United Coffee 

It was only a matter of time before a hole-in-the-wall café opened in the Kapitolyo district. Delivering beans from EDSA BDG, single-origins, roast, and personal mixes, United Coffee has a hefty menu that can get you practically anything you’re looking for. Their Shakerato (P110/black, P130/with milk) is refreshing if not a little sweet, and is a great ender to any of the meals you’ll be having in this busy food-centric district. Parking at United can be a problem—we suggest leaving your car and taking an Uber, or congratulating yourself for being a resident in this very popular area. Unlike other new coffee spots, United is big—if you’re going with a large group, you won’t have trouble scoring a table—something rare in a scene where small spaces seems to be the trend.

 

United Coffee is at 2/F 16 United Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City (0917-523-5066).

 


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8. Tweedle Book Café 

It’s a delight to know that someone has thought of putting good coffee and great books together in an unassuming neighborhood shop. Without losing that homey vibe, Tweedle enables you to work in peace, surrounded by books, coffee and food (what could be better?). With all your favorite authors’ names decorating the ceiling, this shop shows that the details really count. We suggest you try something different and go for the hot chocolate (P185)—sourced from Cebu’s TCC (The Chocolate Chamber), you’d be hard-pressed to find a better cup elsewhere.

 

Tweedle Book Café 106-B Scout Gandia Street, Sacred Heart, Tomas Morato, Quezon City (0922-805-1688).

 


 

7. Mozaic Living

Who knew you could score some coffee while going furniture shopping? Known primarily as a furniture store, Mozaic holds a pretty bar (easily one of the most Instagram-friendly spots in the Metro) and a robust selection of brews. Those working in the Ortigas and Pioneer area are lucky to have this little getaway from the office. There’s nothing like escaping your cubicle and breathing in some fresh air surrounded by beautiful things. If you’re loving Mozaic’s cups, you'll be happy to know that the store will be selling them soon.

 

Mozaic Living is at 7 Sheridan Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City (634-5954).

 


 

6. The Coffee Room 

Look for the red door and you’ll find your way into The Coffee Room. Half-bazaar (Boqueria Lifestyle Market), half-café, this quaint little room is tucked away in a nondescript building on West Avenue, attracting customers who want to do some browsing for whimsical home décor or coffee addicts who prefer to veer away from crowds. The Coffee Room has a refreshingly friendly staff—for a space that only has four tables and a bar, that’s definitely a welcome thing. Try their Viet-Style CaPhe (P110) for a sweet, sometimes rare-to-find Asian take on coffee.

 

The Coffee Room is at 3/F Hollywood Square, CMS-Asia Sports Clinic, West Avenue, Del Monte, Quezon City (0917-895-5239).

 


 

5. Catabolic Café 

The Maginhawa crowd has Catabolic to thank for bringing the area some good, solid coffee. With beans from pioneering EDSA BDG, you can’t go wrong with their concoctions. Try the Mocha (P140). Iced or hot, it’s excellent, and they also deliver a sweet, proper iced lemon tea (P80). Catabolic has a full menu with everything from pasta to cakes to mains to keep you happy, no matter what you’re craving. What this hotspot has that other little coffee shops don’t is size, allowing for super comfortable seating (you won’t want to leave) and quirky interior design. We love the light blue touches throughout the space, plus the couch area is particularly inviting.

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Catabolic Café 22 Malingap Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City (366-8822).

 


 

4. Restock Curiosities

Situated right outside popular restaurant 12/10, Restock is part gallery, part homage to independent artists, and part coffee shop. Regardless of what you’re looking for, this little space will satisfy the senses—whether you need a shot of espresso, want to drown out the day with some good music, or looking to feast your eyes on some homegrown art. A wonderful pit stop after a full meal next door, Restock’s coffee selection is worth a try. Their Mocha (P180) is made of 85% Malagos chocolate—if you’ve got a craving for cacao, this is worth the trip to this San Antonio side street.

 

Restock Curiosities is at 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio, Makati City (0917-663-1011).

 


 

3. Tenant Café 

If you’re looking for a quiet hideaway where you can tuck in for good coffee, a long lunch, and some solitary laptop time, this beautifully designed coffee shop will give you exactly what you want. Tenant is both a café and a retail space with everything from shirts to surfboards. Their furniture is well-appointed, modern, and brings a very cool, almost Tokyo-like vibe to the entire space. Offering both coffee and cocktails, they deliver a proper, bold Espresso (P100) and a solid, substantial Flat White (P140). Bonus: their thoughtfully designed bar has sockets hidden under the table surface—these little details make such a huge difference.

 

Tenant Café G/F Solace Hotel, 9639 Kamagong Street, San Antonio, Makati City (751-3086).

 


 

2. YDG Coffee 

If you’re interested in the finer points of coffee but have no idea where to start, a visit to YDG will do you a lot of good. The tiny space fits a handful of people, but the intimate setting is the perfect venue to spark conversation with the passionate folks behind this brand. Their Iced Americano (P120) is a great testament to the quality of coffee they offer—it’s refreshing, with a sweet caramel tone. Aside from coffee, YDG has food on the menu in case you have a big appetite. Get your coffee education here—you won’t be disappointed.

 

YDG Coffee is at 2100 Pasong Tamo Extension, Magallanes, Makati City (0917-550-7207).

 


 

1. Writer’s Block 

Legazpi Village’s Local Edition gets a spinoff in this tiny space in the middle of Pasong Tamo Extension’s Karrivin Plaza. Now gaining popularity with the restaurants and shops opening at the property, Writer’s Block brings a much-needed dose of caffeine to the urban retail mix. Regardless of the modest square footage, Writer’s Block manages to fit in comfortable banquet seating perfect for office folk ducking out for a break. Their cold brew (P125) gets a two-thumbs-up, and their teapresso (try the Ruby Red Roselle for P95) adds interest and variation to their coffee and cocktails menu. Do yourself a favor and order the salted egg chicken skin chicharon to share—every bite will be worth the cholesterol spike!

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Writer's Block is at The Alley at Karrivin, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue, Magallanes, Makati City (0917-535-8283).

 

Photos by Toto Labrador and Hans Fausto (United Coffee, Mozaic Living)

 

For other Top 10 lists, check out SPOT.ph's Top 10 Everything Food Lists 3rd Edition. Co-presented with C2 Cool and Clean, it's priced at P195, available at major bookstores.

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