10 New Aesthetic Cafés in Manila to Add to Your Must-Visit List

You can't beat having a soothing cup of joe in a spaces like these.

aesthetic cafes
PHOTO BY Three Squares Cafe and Bar, Hans Fausto/Spot.ph archives ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

(SPOT.ph) When people say things like, “real beauty is on the inside,” we know two things for sure: one, they’ve definitely had to convince their friends that their crush just has a lot of bad pictures, and two, they probably weren’t talking about restaurants or cafés.

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There’s something about the way a place looks that, while not necessarily make-or-break, can certainly give plus points to an already respectable menu. These days, clean, calm, and cohesive spaces can provide the quiet we’re lacking in our own minds, so it’s not entirely beauty for beauty’s sake. Throw in a tall glass of quality iced coffee and a fluffy little dessert, and you’ve got a quick but much-needed getaway from whatever’s bothering you at the moment. (It’s work, isn’t it? Yeah, we know.) We’ve taken the liberty of rounding up 10 eye-catching caffeination stations that let you treat your eyes as much as you can your taste buds.

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Take a well-deserved breather at these 10 new aesthetic cafes in Manila:

Three Squares Café and Bar

Three Squares Cafe + Bar interiors
PHOTO BY Design Story
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Somehow both cozy and polished, Three Squares Café and Bar prides itself on being “design-inspired,” a quality that’s easily traced back to Design Story, the furniture shop that both houses the café and kits it up. Dotted with modern European fixtures, the place has a playfulness to it that doesn’t disrupt the clean lines of the vertical shiplap walls or the flowy zigzag of the floor’s wooden finish. In fact, the whole look pairs well with their Cafe con Leche (P180/dine-in, P220/bottled)—watch out for the double-espresso backbone and kiss of nutmeg on this one.

Three Squares Café and Bar is at Unit C-11, 2/F Building C, The Alley at Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City.

The Coffee Academics

aesthetic cafes
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto/SPOT.PH ARCHIVES
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Those among you who follow the bean scene even relatively closely will recognize this Hong Kong special. Talk about quality control—the OG shop has to give their stamp of approval, even with substitutions, so you know you’re getting as close to the real thing as possible. For their first Philippine outpost—a takeout kiosk that nevertheless delivers the experience the original is known for—The Coffee Academics’ aesthetic leans more towards a cooler, darker color story, landing between a rich old man’s extensive home library and a small, family-owned factory. There’s an air of “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here all night”—which is literal, because they close at 6 p.m., but still—that pulls you in and sparks introspection. Beyond its looks, the beverages here aren't your usual; in particular, the Agave (P210/hot, P220/iced) is a drink that takes your la-di-da latte for a ride with Mexican agave nectar and black pepper.

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The Coffee Academics is at High Street South, Tower 1, 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Grateful Café

grateful cafe
PHOTO BY Ashley Martelino

You probably thought this list was going to be all clean lines and 50 shades of off-white, but we’re happy to report the opposite. Grateful Café in Mandaluyong has the feel of an empowered Asian woman meeting the Latin lover of her dreams while on vacation. They bond over their mutual love of all things caffeinated, and this hypothetical film ends, of course, with them building a home together—that probably isn’t the story IRL, but the vibe is very much that. With sweet patterns in the flatware and the tables that match the dots of woven furnishings, you might think you’re on your own Eat, Pray, Love journey; play up the fantasy with the Egg Coffee (P200) or the Dirty Matcha (P130).

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Grateful Cafe is at 27 Apo Street, Mandaluyong City.

Granville

aesthetic cafes
PHOTO BY Ashley Martelino/SPOT.PH ARCHIVES

It’s hard to believe that anything good could come out of 2020, but being stuck at home with some extra downtime ultimately resulted in this lockdown lovechild. (It’s a metaphor, the owners are just friends.) Granville is not only beautiful, but also versatile—your friends who are more likely to sip on a local craft IPA than on an Americano can still come and sit with you. There’s even a beer called Release Me From Lockdown (P215), made especially for your comrade who’s been feeling particularly cooped-up. Overall, the place sports a classy, lived-in look with pops of color and a variety of seating arrangements. And that La Marzocco machine on the counter isn’t the only bit of Italy they’ve got going on—behind the scenes, there’s fresh pasta made in-house!

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Granville is at 189 A. Mabini Street, San Juan, Mandaluyong City.

Kohi

aesthetic cafes
PHOTO BY Kohi

Literally Japanese for “coffee,” Kohi seems to stick to the less-is-more postulate the namesake's culture tends to embody, proving that tiny can be terrific. A popular stop among cyclists, the deep brown motif gives the eye a place to rest in the midst of an urban forest. Initially a takeout-only establishment, the owners eventually tossed in tables for lingering patrons to really soak up the feel of the sleepy street. For newbies who want to dive into the deep end, we recommend their Salted Caramel Kori Kohi (P120).

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Kohi is at 1147 Antipolo Street, Rizal Village, Makati City

Coffee ArTea

aesthetic cafes
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto/SPOT.PH ARCHIVES

Poblacion is no stranger to good food, good drinks, and good interiors; if anything, you need to tick all those boxes to make it in Makati’s casual dining district. Like our last entry, Coffee ArTea is a go-to for the local biking community, and with treats like the Horchata Manchado (P180/hot, P200/iced) and the Leche Brulee Latte (P200/hot, P220/iced), it’s not difficult to see why. You'll even find works of art by local artists around their space! But even more than the luxe beverages, or even the rustic appeal of the painted brick and rattan chairs, what really puts your mind at ease is the warm hospitality that this café was built on. They go out of their way to take care of you here, and that’s what keeps people coming back.

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Coffee ArTea is at 5966 Fermina Street corner Alfonso Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City.

Izu Koffee

Izu Koffee
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason/SPOT.PH ARCHIVES

Izu Koffee isn’t the first café that takes both recipe and design tips from Japan, and we’re willing to bet a lot of money that it won’t be the last. It’s only natural; the coffee culture over there is, as most endeavors are taken in Japan, pretty serious. The spotless shopfront, while already appealing, does very little talking compared to the smooth, sophisticated interiors. Somewhere between industrial and zen-minimalist—a mix that, while specific, allows for a lot of creativity and crossover—Izu Coffee has us taking notes for our own homes. Whether you’re going for a classic Flat White (P140) or stepping it up with a Spanish Latte (P160), the fact is this: you might not want to leave.

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Izu Koffee is at JEE Village Center, BF Resort Village, Las Piñas City.

74 Apartment Café

undefined74 apartment cafe
PHOTO BY Instagram/74aptcafe

This Pasay mini-paradise, with its botany-inspired murals and warm lighting, actually feels more like a community hotspot rather than a place to go see and be seen in. You’re welcomed as a neighbor rather than a customer or patron, and you’ll feel it in their menu’s range—they cater to almost everybody, going from milk tea to the quintessential Iced Americano (P90/regular, P100/large). They also get bonus points for serving breakfast all day; always a win in our book.

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74 Apartment Cafe is at 74 Clemente Jose Street, Pasay City.

Papakape

aesthetic cafes
PHOTO BY Kit Singson/SPOT.PH ARCHIVES

Located in a neighborhood area in Makati, Papakape lets you chill out with a cup of joe in an easy, breezy al-fresco space. With a glass house that serves as a coffee bar and counter, plus an outdoor dine-in area with plenty of greenery to go around, it’s as homey as it is visually appealing in how it highlights the best nature’s got to offer. Their coffee drinks aren’t just like any other you’ll find around, either; they’ve got everything from the festive Bibingkaccino (P160) that combines the flavors of coffee and bibingka; to the Kape Gingerccino (P100) that takes your usual cappuccino out for a tropical spin with ginger, a coco froth, and panutsa.

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Papakape is at 5641 Ampere Street, Palanan, Makati City.

Kilograms Café

kilograms cafe
PHOTO BY Instagram/kilogramscafe

With a minimalist logo that throws ‘90s kids back to the glory days of WordArt—in the best way possible—the magic of this San Juan station doesn’t start and stop with the sign. Take the word “magic” literally, because Kilograms sits comfortably inside RunIt, a shop brimming with beautiful decks of playing cards. Neither establishment cut corners when it came to the display, making great use of concentrated lighting and black, sleek block fixtures. Their most popular drink is the Iced Caramel Latte (P165) and all of their sandwiches are rich and filling thanks to their signature grilled brioche.

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Kilograms Cafe is at RunIt Store, Promenade Mall 2, Greenhills, San Juan City.

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