Top 10 Secret Coffee Spots in Manila (2018 Edition)
These little known haunts give your regular coffee chains a run for their money.
(SPOT.ph) Manila is no stranger to the coffee scene. With big brands from the U.S., Canada, and Australia proliferating the city, everyone—from caffeine-starved students to office workers counting down to their next break—has become a coffee connoisseur these days. Enter the third-wave gems that have been popping up amid residential neighborhoods and newly opened malls from north to south—these perfect-ambience cafés don’t just offer fine brews, they’re also building community and are contributing to the coffee culture that’s fueling our city day in, day out. For this list, we've ranked the best coffee places according to their drinks, atmosphere, and overall experience.
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. Dulo MNL
Dulo MNL is a collaborative multi-hyphenate hybrid space in Poblacion that offers an exacting audience a variety of options. Whether you’re looking to check out the latest art installation, set a meeting in a non-descript part of the city, or are planning your next event, this spot offers you a venue to do all that—with a cup of coffee to boot. Their Cappuccino (P140) is bold and smooth and worth the trip as long as you’re not driving. Parking in the area can be brutal—it’s better to make your way here by foot or through your friendly ride-sharing service.
Dulo MNL is at 4992 P. Guanzon Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
If you’re making the rounds at Poblacion and are looking for some good food, baked goods plus coffee, get yourself to the end Matilde Street and secure yourself a table at Tilde. Known for its excellent sourdough bread, this is also a good place to grab yourself a cuppa. Without the frills and hipster trappings of a most places in the neighborhood, Tilde focuses on the important stuff—flavor. Its Vietnamese Iced Coffee (P190) is high-priced compared to most coffee shops, but the kick it provides will last you hours and hours.
Tilde Hand Craft Café is at 5417 Matilde Street corner General Luna Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
8. Common Folk
This coffee shop tucked in one of the quiet corners of White Plains has neighborhood café down to a tee. It’s quaint, comfortable and absolutely refreshing to look at, with some ace natural light, white-tile interiors, and a lovely mix of wood and concrete. It’s the perfect place to plant yourself with your laptop or a good book and a cuppa, like a Cappuccino (P130). Common Folk also has an accommodating staff that oversees your order expertly. With a pretty substantial menu that offers everything from cookies to cakes, affogatos to pour-overs, every coffee lover is sure to find something to sip on at this pretty and photogenic café.
Common Folk is at 79 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City.
7. Bakere Café
If you’re trying to figure out where to take your next out-of-office meeting or brainstorming, consider grabbing a table at Bakere Café. With quiet, warm and inviting interiors, plus a broad coffee menu on offer, this neighborhood coffee shop holds a lot of potential for powwows. Parking can be limited at the building, considering all the businesses that share the same slots with Bakere—it’s better to get here via Grab or Uber. When you do make your way to this corner of Pasig, try out the Espresso Tonic (P168) for something unique and bubbly.
Bakere Café is at Three Brixton Building, 3 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City.
*Update: Bakere Café announced through a Facebook post that they have permanently shut down their Kapitolyo branch on April 1, 2018. But you don't have to worry because they're bringing the same coffee shop experience to a different location soon!
6. Cup Fiction
Cup Fiction pairs books and coffee (plus a full menu of meals) together like a pro. With shelves that offer reads for browsing plus student-friendly promotions, this is a perfect place for students to secure a quiet spot for some serious work. Inspired details like the card catalog-looking counter (for those who still remember the Dewey Decimal system) plus a mural of a J.D. Salinger quote on the wall give the interiors character and quirk. Their off-white Iced latte (P150) is one of Cup Fiction’s most revered drinks and for good reason. It tastes delicious and is incredibly pretty too.
Cup Fiction is at 141 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City.
As far as coffee chains go, this one manages to stay on the low-key end of the spectrum—offering the small-town feel of a neighborhood coffee shop, even in the middle of a bustling mall. Set in a tiny corner of Uptown Mall’s food court, Habitual Coffee’s cups give you fair warning: “This will be a habit.” Their Iced Mocha (P160) delivers rich and chocolate-y coffee goodness, and if you’ve got a hankering for even more ooey-gooey chocolate flavor, their brownie provides that punch as well.
Habitual Coffee is at 4/F Uptown Mall, Uptown Bonifacio.
4. Jiro Coffee Studio
Just across the street from St. Mary’s College, Quezon City is a convention center that would probably be the last place you’d expect to find a well-designed coffee shop. One of the most low-key places in the city to offer inventive brews and a full menu, Jiro Coffee Studio is exactly the place you want to head to if you’re in want of some peace and quiet, and conversations with a staff that knows coffee inside out. Designed with a distinctly modern Japanese aesthetic, the café’s melding of concrete, wire mesh, and wood is poetic. Find your own corner, grab some Bulletproof Coffee (P175) and languish in what this little secret café has to offer.
Jiro Coffee Studio is at 2/F Crossroad Center, 77 Mother Ignacia Street, Diliman, Quezon City.
Find your chill at this surf and ride-inspired coffee shop along one of Kapitolyo’s hippest streets. Caferista’s blend of bike installations, colorful surfboards, concrete floors, and wide, breathable space presents the perfect spot to unwind with a cup of joe. Parking can be a problem when driving along Brixton, but if you’re lucky enough to secure a spot outside this café, their excellent Flat White (P150) and equally delectable sandwich offerings, like the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich (P200), will make the trip worth your while.
Caferista is at 11 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City.
2. SGD Bodega
It’s possible to get a taste of Sagada’s famous coffee flavors right in the heart of Teacher’s Village thanks to SGD Bodega. Located in the middle of a quiet, residential street, this unassuming home-turned-café also houses a Coffee Science Center that educates people on all things coffee. Supporting local farmers is a big part of SGD Bodega’s thrust—and they certainly put their money where their mouth is because their brews deliver strong flavor that rivals the best international brews. Sip a cup of Cappuccino (P145) amid students and backpackers, order some homemade ice cream, and let the wooden details of the space transport you straight into the ridges of the mountain province without leaving the city.
SGD Bodega is at 45 Maalalahanin Street, Diliman, Quezon City.
Coffee is, in and of itself, a special elixir designed to satisfy the taste buds and keep both head and heart happy. Coupled with doughnuts, however, your regular caffeine boost can turn into an altogether elevated experience. Poison offers a dim, neon-lit space that encourages you to decompress from work by treating yourself to some solid goodies. Set at the very back corner of Karrivin Plaza, Poison is known for their “dangerous coffee and deadly doughnuts,” which tempt and titillate the taste buds. Their Mocha (P150) is rich and solid, and is a perfect accompaniment to any and all flavors of their handcrafted doughnuts.
Poison Coffee & Doughnuts is at The Alley at Karrivin Plaza, Pasong Tamo Extension, Magallanes, Makati City.
Photos by Toto Labrador