Soothe Your Soul With Scenic Views + Great Hot Chocolate at This Under-the-Radar Café in Tagaytay

Perfect against the cool breeze of the country's second summer capital.

Kuuma Kaakao Kaffe
Hillcrest Plaza, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Contact: 0917-965-5084
Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday

kuuma kakao kaffe food + view
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

( You’d expect most five-year-old ventures to lose their luster at some point—hell, many small businesses don’t make it past the first two or three, let alone when hit with a pandemic. But Kuuma Kaakao Kaffe is not only five years strong (while flying under the radar), it’s also just plain damn good.

Also read: 10 Dining Spots Near Manila with Spectacular Views

kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay from the outside
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay interiors
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
kuuma kakao kaffe view of taal
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

Visit this under-the-radar cafe with a view for soul-soothing hot chocolate and bibingka on your next drive to Tagaytay:

For the uninitiated, it all began with the tail end of Mariellie Casauay’s college career—yes, Kuuma was her thesis project. What started out as the little hot chocolate stand with the guts and gumption to situate itself next to a Starbucks in Tagaytay soon blossomed into a full-fledged café, all the while championing the unique flavor of Cagayan cacao and quite possibly the most lovingly made bibingka for miles around. Add to that the stunning view of Taal and you've got yourself quite the spot.

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kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay food
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

But that’s not all that’s kept them afloat for five years, and through a pandemic, no less. Since opening, they’ve expanded their menu to include heartier meals perfect for a pitstop when you’re off exploring Cavite. They don’t go too wild with it—their Pancit (P155) is an umami classic with no shortage of veggies or good texture.

kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay pancit
The Pancit is a no-frills meal or snack option that goes classic in execution. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

In the mood for rice? The Tapa with Egg (P185) may look unassuming, but the in-house marinade makes it taste like home with just the right blend of salty and sweet. If you want something a little lighter and brighter, then we recommend their other bestseller, the Tuna Sisig (175). Pro tip: Ask them to slice up the sili and add half a calamansi on the side; mix it all up and you’re welcome. Heft either dish up further with an extra egg (P25), because you’re going to want that fuel for the drive home!

kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay tapa with egg
Their take on tapa's got a great balance of salty and sweet. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay tuna sisig
Prefer a piquant bite? Go for the Tuna Sisig. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

Also read: 10 Underrated Food Destinations to Visit in Tagaytay

But you don’t go up to experience the cold of Tagaytay not banking on the promise of comfortably consuming hot chocolate. Kuuma’s good ol’ Classic (P105) hits the spot all on its own, with a light but creamy bittersweetness—plus a hint of graininess that isn’t unwelcome—but if you want to take it to the next level, the S’mores (P125) version is the thing to order. Feel free to ask for a slightly deeper toast to get the campfire-without-the-fire experience, especially at night.

kuuma kakao kaffe hot chocolate tagaytay
Their hot chocolate—available in Classic and S'Mores versions—makes for a rich, soul-soothing sip. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

For cozy food, you can’t go wrong with the Champorado with Dilis (P95). A little more subdued than your traditional champorado (usually served with tuyo, as you know), it’s easier on the more sensitive palates, although asking for extra fish (P10) is an option if you want more punch and crunch. Want to go the opposite route? The Special Puto Bumbong (P75) truly is special, topped with cheese and condensed milk, and served with a side of desiccated coconut and muscovado sugar.

kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay champorado with dilis
Just imagine curling up to a bowl of this Champorado with Dilis. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay champorado with dilis closeup
The fried fish adds a pop of savoriness that brings out the subdued depth of the chocolate—as any Filipino can attest to. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto
kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay special puto bumbong
Not to be missed, either, is the Special Puto Bumbong that's playfully molded into an octagram and topped with cheese. 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

But the items with severe main character syndrome—and, frankly, we’re happy to let them have it—are, of course, the many iterations of bibingka. Bibingka with Toppings (P45/single, P170/pack of four) is kind of a few steps up from the kakanin you’re used to; you can choose from Cheese & Salted Egg, Ube, Leche Flan, and Macapuno, all of which sink super well into what might possibly be softest bibingka we’ve ever had. Whether you’re looking for salt, sweetness, or a refreshing fruitiness in your dessert, you’ve got options here.

kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay bibingka with toppings
Their Bibingka is among the softest we've tried and can be had with toppings like leche flan and macapuno.  
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

That said, the Flavored Bibingka (P50/single, P190/pack of four) shouldn’t be as good as it is. Many have attempted this before and ended up with eggy cake, but that is not the case here—we stan consistent quality. Even the Chocolate and Ube variants hold up super well, and we all know how easy it is to both rely too heavily on and fully mess up chocolate- and ube-flavored what-have-yous. Cheese and Leche Flan are incredible in this form, too.

kuuma kakao kaffe tagaytay flavored bibingka
Chocolate or Ube Bibingka, anyone? 
PHOTO BY Hans Fausto

After half a decade, this café certainly has its regulars, but they’re always happy to see new faces. So if we haven’t driven the point home already—get it? Drive?—Kuuma Kaakao’s menu makes for your home-away-from-home kind of stopover, whether you’re making the trip or just coming back. Put it this way: You’ll brake for the view, but park for the hot chocolate.

Photos by Hans Fausto

Also read:
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