This Co-Working Café in Marikina Goes Beyond the Idea of Shared Workspaces
You'd feel right at home.
(SPOT.ph) Cofficina Café + Cowork in Marikina opened its doors to the public on Independence Day, and it wasn't at all coincidental. Being a co-working space, the place champions what freelancers and start-ups are all about: Independence and self-reliance. Even their bike logo fits this narrative—bikes can only move through human will and energy, similar to how fledgling businesses demand a lot of sweat and tears for them to succeed.
Bianca Tolentino's sister Karla always worked at coffee shops well into the night, and the lack of similar spaces in Cainta (where they lived) and nearby areas like Marikina and Antipolo inspired her to open her own co-working space. This way, freelancers, students, and entrepreneurs can have access to a comfortable and accessible work environment without having to go to Mandaluyong or Makati, where most co-working spaces are located.
As reflected by its name—a combination of coffee, office, and kusina—Cofficina aims to be more than just a place where people work on their laptops the whole day, with nary a word said to another soul. Bianca describes Cofficina as a space that fosters a "live social network" where people can freely ask for insights or feedback from one another. "What we want is a community where everyone knows and helps each other. We don't want to be a place where you come in, work, then just say bye when you're done," she says.
They made sure the look of the place reflects this mindset, too. The lobby is reminiscent of a compact living room, with a sofa and wooden benches as seating options. The cozy vibe is punctuated with a clever declaration on the wall, "Where Dreams Come Brew," painted by calligraphy artist Gek Catagan. Across this wall is a glass window drawn by Bianca's sister Karla, depicting the benefits of a co-working space and an illustrated guide on the different types of coffee one can order.
Bianca and her sisters were responsible for most of the interior design—the coasters, posters, and other wall décor were either handcrafted or finds from their travels. They even painted the walls themselves. "I figured that since this is our first business, why not be hands-on with everything? That would make the experience more rewarding," says Bianca. The resulting space has a distinctly DIY feel to go with its cozy atmosphere.
The openness of the space encourages engagement and interaction. Bianca chats with them, asks about their work progress, and offers words of encouragement. She'd regularly ask everyone to take a short break and play a board game in the middle of the office. "I believe that building a relationship with the members will inspire them to come back," she says. "Before I started Cofficina, I talked to other freelancers in other co-working spaces who said they'd prefer if the other members gave them feedback on what they're working on. So that's the culture I want to foster here."
With no partitions breaking up the working area, it can easily be converted into a space for presentations, workshops, or book launches. Since its inception last year, Cofficina has hosted events such as calligraphy and sign language workshops, and talks about starting your own business or living the freelance life—all with no admission fee.
Salted Egg Chicken Wings
But they don't just cater to freelancers—you can also go there to enjoy a good meal. A chef by profession, Bianca cooked up a menu with creative twists on old favorites. Bestsellers include Joey's Spaghetti (P145), an aglio olio pasta with dilis; and Salted Egg Chicken Wings (P145/three pieces; P250/six pieces; P370/nine pieces). They recently added a variety of shakes, a timely antidote to the summer heat.
Bianca wants Cofficina to be "a live social network of inspired professionals, where there is a sense of community in the air." And in this community where people can freely bounce ideas and feedback off each other in a laid-back setting, Cofficina comes pretty close to what a shared working environment really is.
Cofficina Café + Cowork is at 2/F Thaddeus Arcade, Pitpitan Street, San Roque, Marikina City. Cofficina offers various rates for memberships, with solo rates ranging from P1,300 to P4,700 and team memberships from P7,680 (part-time for a team of three) to P11,280 (full-time for a team of three). The daily rates for walk-ins are P80/hour, or P350/day. Members and walk-ins can treat themselves to unlimited coffee and tea, and enjoy high-speed Internet. For more information, log on to Cofficina Café & Cowork.
Photos by Jun Pinzon