5966 Fermina Street corner Alfonso Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City
Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
Note: The café was shot prior to the enhanced community quarantine in August. As of writing, Coffee ArTea can only accomodate five people inside at a time.
(SPOT.ph) For coffee lovers, part of the enjoyment also comes from sipping your chosen beverage in a spot where you can feel safe and at home. And Coffee ArTea—a little nook right in the middle of Poblacion—is just that. Since it opened its doors in June, Cofee ArTea has become a favorite among the local bicycle community, whose members have been steadily gravitating to its homey walls for good coffee and camaraderie. “The biker community [is] really our family here, they helped spread the word about us,” shares Coffee ArTea’s wonderfully warm and engaging Hanzel Joy Babas, who co-owns the café with partner and consultant Kalel Demetrio and cousin and partner Jay Ebora.
Biker or not, you definitely get a sense of Coffee ArTea’s welcoming vibe. As you sit down on any of their locally made rattan stools, you are transported into a lanai hangout that instantly feels like home. The open space outside makes it easy for customers to grab seats with a safe social distance, while inviting easy conversation and company while sipping their drink of choice. “I like making each customer who comes in the shop feel like you are well taken-cared of and really waited on like a cherished guest in our cozy Coffee ArTea space,” says Babas.
Here's the story of this must-visit cafe in Poblacion:
Coffee ArTea, shares Babas, was a personal dream that manifested into reality through a series of serendipitous events—and by trusting her strong gut feelings about the space and this exact coffee shop concept. From getting down and dirty laying down the floor tiles to sourcing and upcycling all the local and pre-loved materials to be used in constructing her visualized dream space for her coffee shop (the coffee prep bar was sourced from old shipping crate pallets in a pier in Tondo, for example), this small business owner is definitely very hands-on.
In fact, the minute you enter Coffee ArTea, Babas and her staff welcome you in with a warm smile and ask you what your preference is for your coffee for the day. Your best bet is to let this hands-on host do what she does best and allow her to choose the drink that she feels you would enjoy for this visit. “I love it when my guests smile after sipping from the coffee that I recommend and make for them,“ says Babas.
Babas explains that part of her passion when it came to opening her coffee shop was making it a space to promote local artists who may want a place to exhibit their work to the community. “I search for them thru Facebook… we really aim to help the local artists have a platform to express their love for art,” says Babas. “So that’s why we leave space for them [at] Coffee ArTea, to really be the wall for their art pieces to be displayed for free.” The plan, Babas adds, is to change the theme every month—“so that we can give chance to other artists also.” As of writing, some of the artists whose works are on display are Juan Aguasito Jr., Mercedes B. Paez Layog, and Ned Alexander Garay. From the impressive lineup of Philippine coffee beans from different regions to promoting local artists and their talent, Coffee ArTea genuinely shows its support for all things local.
There’s a reason why the Horchata Manchado (P180/Hot, P200/Iced) is number one on the Craft Coffee menu of Coffee ArTea. It’s freshly made every day in limited small batches, using rice indigenous to the province of Isabela. The painstaking process of roasting the rice for the daily batch of toasted rice milk pays off with the smiles of customers who take sips of the drink—we had it cold. You’ll want to savor the pinipig-esque flavor of the toasted rice milk that’s sweetened with muscovado sugar, layered with cream and cinnamon, and given a kick of espresso that punches up this creamy and refreshing coffee concoction.
For a solid nostalgia trip down the memory lane of favorite childhood desserts, do your taste buds a favor and order the cold Ube Keso Espeziale (P190). Coffee ArTea uses classic ube halaya blended with fresh milk and then topped off with their house-made keso krema. The comfort-food level satisfaction is off the charts, with each sip that melds the creamy ube and cheese. You may want to ask for a spoon to scoop out each and every milky cheesy nugget from your nutty-tasting drink.
And then there's the Leche Brulee Latte (Php 200/hot, P220/iced), a crowd favorite that was inspired by Vietnamese egg coffee and given a Coffee ArTea twist. Think of their version as a cross between leche flan and coffee, and you can imagine just how decadent that would taste. The trick is to sip the crackly burnt surface first to enjoy the torched creamy egg yolk goodness, before mixing it all together and just diving in one sip at a time into this sweet dessert coffee with a luxe mouthfeel and flavor.
If you’re in the Poblacion area and looking for a welcoming and cozy safe space to just relax and feel at home, Coffee ArTea is here to take care of you and your coffee needs—so you can just focus on doing you, chatting up your neighbor, or simply enjoy watching the random and always interesting slices of Poblacion street life as they go by.
Coffee ArTea is at 5966 Fermina Street corner Alfonso Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City
Photos by Hans Fausto
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