Old Baguio Cafe’s first branch in Metro Manila

My first blog post in a long time! This time, I want to help promote a new coffeeshop franchise. The name is Old Baguio Cafe, and it set up its first Metro Manila branch in Robinsons Forum, Mandaluyong just last August 1!

old baguio cafe logo

Old Baguio Cafe has been in business in Baguio for over two years. It specializes in premium arabica coffee from Atok, Benguet.

Better-known beans, like Sagada arabica and Batangas barako, have received their share of praise. But this franchise aims to bring the brilliance of Atok arabica coffee to prominence.

old baguio cafe mandaluyong exterior

Was able to chat a bit with the very nice supervisor, Mark, who is helping set up the Mandaluyong branch. He says that on September 1, they will open a branch in Parañaque, and on October 1, in Vito Cruz. Mark will then be managing the Parañaque branch. If you’re in the area after the new branch opens, make sure to say hi!

Mark told me that Old Baguio Cafe has been in business for two years in Baguio, where it already has two branches thriving. It was only this year that they began opening franchises in Metro Manila. They’re also opening branches outside of MM and Baguio very soon.

old baguio cafe old photographs of baguio 1

old baguio cafe old photographs of baguio 2

There are some nostalgic photographs of Baguio of yesteryear on display.

My frequent travel buddy, Lar from Philippine Travel Photos, told me about this cafe, so it was only fitting that we went together to try their Americano (P70 for regular, P90 for upsized).

Benguet arabica is known to be robust, and Atok arabica is no exception. The flavor is rich, not bitter at all, and most definitely not watered down, as sometimes franchise coffee tends to be. This is a must-try for gourmets who want sophisticated local coffee at a reasonable cost.

old baguio cafe - two americanos and a slice of carrot cake

They also have a variety of lattes, frappes and smoothies!

Their bestselling dessert is the carrot cake (P90 php per slice). It’s not sweet at all, and I agree it tastes swell with their coffee.

old baguio cafe 250g bag and paper bag

I liked their coffee so much that I bought a 250-gram bag (P375). I’m normally iffy buying roasted coffee where the roasting date isn’t printed on the bag, but I took their word for it that the bag I was buying was from a batch just roasted a couple of weeks ago (July 18).

My dad used the beans for our early morning coffee the next day, and confirmed that it was freshly brewed: there was still some bloom over the grinds (he used the pour-over method). It still made for great morning coffee!

old baguio cafe dessert stand and jams

By the way, Old Baguio Cafe sells strawberry and ube jam, which I’ll have to try sometime! Take note, however, that the ube jam is sold in a “buy one take one” basis (currently P250 for two bottles) because traditionally made ube jam goes bad after just one week in storage. Good to know! That’s probably a good sign, which says their ube jam has no artificial preservatives that would give it a longer shelf life and affect the flavor.

I think Mr. Mark also said their company sells coffee equipment, but their stall in Mandaluyong offers little by way of that. For now, it really is a simple coffee stall: a great place to sample their excellent coffee.

old baguio cafe mandaluyong flyer

Here’s where their first Metro Manila branch is located:

Old Baguio Cafe
Ground floor, Robinsons Forum (near Handyman)
Pioneer St., Mandaluyong City

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OldBaguioCafe

Old Baguio Cafe’s first MM branch may be small, but it has an attentive and knowledgeable staff (they sure know their coffee!), and comes with an old-school, cozy feel, perfect for chill rainy day hangouts.

Sagada Coffee and Food at Satinka Naturals

Every now and then I’m struck with the desire to make a page highlighting where you can get Sagada coffee in Manila. Sagada coffee is one of our country’s brightest culinary jewels, having recently won a medal at the International Contest of Coffees Roasted in the Countries of Origin, organized by the Paris-based Valorization of Agricultural Products (AVPA). And every time I see a shop that offers Sagada coffee within Manila, I feel the need to blog about it. So here I am, blogging about the Sagada coffee that I got at Satinka Naturals.

satinka naturals outside shot

The Sagada coffee isn’t the only thing worthy of note at this establishment, but it was certainly what got me to visit. I heard from Lar of Philippine Travel Photos that Satinka Naturals in Makati was offering Sagada coffee, and I just HAD to drop by.

satinka naturals logo

Satinka Naturals an all-organic, non-GMO, non-MSG restaurant. True to the name, they sell organic wellness products at their Apothecary section on the first floor. They also have a lineup of the local coffees on their menu!

satinka naturals local coffees offered

The labels read, from left to right: Ifugao, Arabica Hazelnut, Arabica, [No label – why is that jar turned around, I wonder?], Sagada, Mountain Tea, Kalinga, Benguet.

satinka naturals second floor view 7

The second floor is reserved for eating. The view is quite lovely, for a cafe situated in the middle of a busy financial district.

satinka naturals second floor view 1

satinka naturals second floor view 2

satinka naturals second floor view 3

satinka naturals second floor view 4

satinka naturals second floor view 5

satinka naturals second floor view 6

The interior decor is home-y and comfortable, and if you get there early and happen to be one of the first people there, you can bask in the restful atmosphere of the place, while enjoying your coffee.

And what good coffee it is! It tastes exactly like the Sagada coffee I had during my last visit to the place. Excellent brew.

I didn’t have much time to interview the staff, but I learned that the chef/proprietor is herself a native of Sagada, and she wants to bring Sagada food with a modern twist to a broader audience.

satinka naturals outdoor menu

An overview of their offerings can be found on a chalkboard menu outside the shop itself. And for music buffs: the restaurant sometimes hosts musical acts!

satinka naturals outdoor menu

This was the dish I got: Bacon Carbonara (P198). It’s REALLY good.

satinka naturals cooler and chicken pasta

We didn’t go at the same time, but Lar kindly contributed photos. This was the Lemon Cucumber Cooler (P95) and one of their bestsellers, the Chicken Cream Cheese Pasta (P229). There’s also a bonus shot of the tip of someone’s shoe 😀

satinka naturals baked chicken adobo

This is their Baked Chicken Adobo (P258). Flavorful and filling!

satinka naturals yoghurt with seasonal fruit

Lar got the Yoghurt with Seasonal Fruit (P138), pictured above. One of the things I really, really miss from Sagada is the yoghurt. The last time I was there, I learned that the national government (through the DOST) helped Sagada locals develop cottage industries that would help drive tourists to their region. Local food entrepreneurs developed yoghurt, and so Sagada yoghurt can be found in many of the eating establishments there.

I have very pleasant memories of Sagada yoghurt – specifically honey yoghurt – so I just had to try the one that Satinka Naturals offered.

satinka naturals honey yoghurt

The Yoghurt with Natural Honey (P110) is thick and gritty – the texture is exactly as I remember Sagada yoghurt to be. But somehow, the flavor seemed to lack a little of the “bite” or sourness that I was missing. I wonder if the edge was dulled a bit by the sort of honey used, or if there was something different about the yoghurt preparation. Still, it was good yoghurt, and I ate it all up!

If you’re in Makati and looking for affordable Pinoy (specifically, Sagada) fare, you need not look further than this cafe.

Satinka Naturals
Open every day, (11 AM to 10 PM Mon-Sat – 9 AM to 7 PM on Sundays)
1137 Kamagong St.
corner Chino Roces Ave.
Makati City
Tel: 0917 420 2279

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/satinkanaturals/

One other cafe I encountered in Makati that’s serving Sagada coffee – as well as other Northern coffees – is Art Circle Cafe. Read my review of it here.

Mr. Park’s Bread and Cake Corp. at 4718 Eduque St., Poblacion also sells Sagada coffee beans from Bana’s Coffee in packs, but I have yet to try them out.

Have you tried the Sagada coffee at Satinka Naturals? How about the other local coffees on their menu? Let me know what you think!

Relax and Give Back at The Giving Cafe

For my National Coffee Day post, I’d like to talk about The Giving Cafe, a newly-opened social enterprise in Mandaluyong city.

the giving cafe storefront

The Giving Cafe is located right beside the warehouse of coffee retailer Henry & Sons, which also owns the cafe. Food Trip PH gives a good summary of H&S’ offerings:

Henry & Sons offers 360-degree coffee solutions tailor-fitted to every challenging demand. From premium coffee roasting, coffee machines and supplies, training and support services, even your own bespoke blend. Every single thing you need to get immersed into the world of coffee and make it your own personal business. Vikings Luxury Buffet actually buys coffee from Henry & Sons.

Henry & Sons has been around for a long time, but The Giving Cafe was only opened last July. Here’s how Rappler describes the cafe’s mission and vision:

The Giving Cafe (TGC) was actually created to raise funds for the Foundation for Sustainable Coffee Excellence (FSCE), which has been supporting a farming community in La Trinidad, Benguet for years, giving the farmers and their families access to basic necessities such as potable water, medicines, and education.

The Giving Cafe serves its own brew in-house, but you can also take home some beans for charity in the form of Bloom Coffee – a commercial blend which is also available in select Rustan’s and Robinson’s grocery stores nationwide, and through the Henry and Sons mobile app [iTunes] | [Android via Google Play].

Bloom Coffee comes in different canisters, and the canister that you get determines the cause to which your purchase will go. We were told by the people manning TGC that all canisters hold the SAME blend. So it’s really just up to you to select the charity you want to support.

the giving cafe menu from zomato

(above photo is from Zomato.com)

Check out the chart above for descriptions of the causes that Bloom Coffee supports. By the way, if you’re a stickler for roasting dates, you can check the roasting date at the bottom of the canister.

My frequent traveling partner, Lar of Philippine Travel Photos, took several lovely photos of the Giving Cafe during our first visit there. Browse through the photos below!

the giving cafe sumatra mandheling

They offer 3 kinds of single-origin coffee daily. You can pick one, or get a sampler of all three. You can specify the brewing method, too!

I picked the Sumatra Mandheling, a personal favorite. And it certainly did not disappoint!

the giving cafe taiwanese fried chicken

I read on Spot.ph that the Taiwanese fried chicken is one of their bestsellers, so just had to try it for myself. Extremely satisfying flavor and crunchiness!

the giving cafe beef pares

Lar got the beef pares, another bestseller. Very flavorful and filling.

Along with the meal, Lar got the decaf americano. Yes, you can request for decaf! We were curious about their fancy “quake” drinks, too, because the day was hot out, but the interior of the cafe was nice and cool, so hot drinks with our meals seemed more reasonable.

the giving cafe rosemary bacon popcorn

Another bestseller: the rosemary bacon popcorn. The serving is huge and I mean HUGE. But well worth it, and excellent paired with coffee!

the giving cafe coffee menu

The large menu behind the counter.

the giving cafe counter

The counter. There are chocolates and coffee on display.

the giving cafe indoor mural

An indoor mural. The text reads: “We achieve more when we chase the dream instead of the competition. – Simon Sinek”

the giving cafe outdoor seats 1

There are outdoor seats at the back of the cafe.

the giving cafe outdoor seats 2

They’re nice and shaded, but on a hot day, the indoor seats are more comfy.

the giving cafe diedrich roaster

A large Diedrich brand coffee roaster located in the shop.

the giving cafe window seat

A lovely window seat. On the shelves are books, board games and decor enjoyed by the owners of the cafe growing up.

the giving cafe lego ship

A nifty Lego ship on top of an antique cupboard. There are a few eye-catching Lego arrangements serving as decor.

the giving cafe rope masters

No photo of it here, but the ceiling decor is made almost entirely of rope. Such a lovely and classy look!

the giving cafe auro chocolate bars

Auro artisan chocolates from Davao are spotlighted in this cafe. You can buy dark or milk chocolate bars with nibs, or without nibs (I recommend the ones with nibs, the texture is exquisite).

the giving cafe auro white chocolate coins

Chocolate coins, may be great for cooking or baking!

The Giving Cafe is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM (it’s closed on Mondays), making it the perfect place for an early breakfast or late dinner! It’s located at the following address:

1550 Sheridan St corner Pines St
Mandaluyong City

As of time of writing, their official website doesn’t seem to be up yet, but their Facebook account is here: https://www.facebook.com/TheGivingCafe/

Henry & Sons, the corporate entity behind The Giving Cafe, also has a Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/henryandsonsph/

Have you been to The Giving Cafe? How did you find their offerings? Leave a comment below!

Coffee Shop Spotlight: Coffee Tonya in Makati City

I’ve been noticing Coffee Tonya in Makati for a while now, but I had the leisure to drop by only recently.

coffee tonya makati logo

It’s quite noticeable, as Coffee Tonya in Makati is right beside the Makati City Hall, and there’s a huge coffee cup statue in the front, to catch the attention of passers-by.

coffee tonya makati cup statue

With a name like “Coffee Tonya,” you would think that it was a Filipino-owned company. It’s not! This is the first branch of this franchise in the Philippines – it actually already has 13 branches in its home country of Japan!

Don’t believe me? Check out their official Japanese-language page.

coffee tonya makati exterior

The owner and manager is a Japanese national, and a friend of the restaurateur behind Uniquease (pronounced “yu-ni-ka-se”). You can see flyers for Uniquease in his shop. And for Japanese food enthusiasts, this particular restaurant is only a short walk from the Makati City Hall and Coffee Tonya.

This has nothing to do with coffee, but I hope you guys will check out Uniquease also. It’s on my to-visit list, because I saw it featured on the NHK documentary “Serving Up a Second Chance”. It helps underprivileged Filipino youths, so enjoy a great Japanese meal for charity!

Back to Coffee Tonya: this place has already been noticed by some dedicated coffee enthusiasts (such as Ken Martin Canuto of #KenCansBaristAdventures!) but I believe it needs more attention.

Why? Because it has a STAGGERING collection of coffee beans from all over the world!

coffee tonya international beans

I admit the cost per 100 grams is sort of pricey…but there are some beans here that are difficult to find locally. If you want small samplers of different and rare beans, this is definitely your stop!

coffee tonya international beans 2

The “coffee of the day” that I tried while I was there was the Peruvian coffee (P120). I was told it had a “mild flavor”, so I was delighted to find that it lived up to my expectations.coffee tonya makati menu

I shouldn’t forget to mention: all coffee served in Coffee Tonya is FRESHLY ROASTED AND GROUND. No long-stocked coffee for these folks! It takes a little more time than your usual Starbucks barista would to prepare your cup, but freshness and fullness of flavor is assured.

I’ll have to drop by next time for their home brew, i.e. americano or espresso. I can’t wait to try it!

coffee tonya local coffee beans

They also have a formidable selection of local coffees. I was only able to take a photo of their southern sources, but there are coffees from the northern areas (e.g. Kalinga, Batangas), too!

What else makes this a great stop for coffee-lovers? The GEAR.

coffee tonya brewing equipment 1

coffee tonya brewing equipment 2

coffee tonya brewing equipment 3

coffee tonya brewing equipment 4

coffee tonya brewing equipment 5

coffee tonya brewing equipment 6

coffee tonya brewing equipment 7

coffee tonya brewing equipment 8

JUST LOOK at all these beauties! You’d be hard pressed to find affordable coffee equipment for the home brewer, all in one place.

I’ve inquired about home roasters, and they say they sometimes stock a Korean brand home roaster (Gene Cafe brand, if I remember correctly), but it gets snapped up quickly. I think I’ll be coming back for that!

coffee tonya makati tea

They also have teas and tea brewing equipment, for tea-lovers! It was explained to me that Japanese people are more tea-lovers than coffee-lovers, so having a “tea” section is just reasonable.

coffee tonya makati japanese candies

Plus Japanese sweets! These are two different flavors of konnyaku jellies. They also have small jars of Japanese candies which are sure to treat your sweet tooth well.

If pastries are what you’re after, they also have a limited selection of breads and cakes, but you could also try the pastries offered by the cafe located near the shop (Grappa’s).

Coffee Tonya

1231 Angono Street, Makati City (just beside Makati City Hall)

(02) 750-6200

Opens Monday to Saturday, 10:00AM – 7:00PM

If you want to drop them a line or be in the know about their latest offerings, check out their official Facebook page.

Coffee Tonya in Makati City is a treasure trove for hard-to-find beans and home brewing equipment. I can’t honestly say the wares are cheap, but the people manning their first branch in the Philippines are accommodating and friendly…and best of all, they sure know their coffee!

Coffee Shop Spotlight: Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan, Bulacan

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan, Bulacan is not strictly speaking a coffee shop, so I was reluctant to include it in the Spotlights.

But I was led to consider it by a message sent to the Coffee on My Mind Facebook page. The person (who shall remain anonymous, as I am not sure if they want their name revealed) recommended that I try out the coffee from that place, as it is supposedly special.

And what will I not do for special coffee? Soon after I received that message, an adventurous friend and I made plans to visit Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan Logo

It may seem difficult to get to, being located in a subdivision far from the larger highways…but if you’re coming from Quezon City, it’s not hard to get to at all.

Just take an FX going to St. Michael/SM Marilao from either SM North Edsa or Ayala Trinoma Mall. Tell the driver you’re getting off at “St. Michael,” keep an eye out as soon as you get out of Meycauayan exit, and you can alight in front of the shop itself.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan Shop Front

My friend and I got there hungry, and without any idea what the menu was going to be like, we imagined there was going to be chicken. After all, the name was “pasteleria” – didn’t that hint at chicken pastel?

Nope. Not at all. As a matter of fact, “pasteleria” is Spanish for “confectionery” or “cake shop.”

As one could probably guess from the name alone, the shop makes old skool look cool. The decor sports a distinct Spanish-era motif. You see the bench in front of the shop? It’s an antique-style piece of wooden furniture called a “gallenera.” Neither my friend nor I knew this at the time.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan has a gallenera

Neither did we know that the name came from the word “gallina,” which is Spanish for chicken. Yep, this is a chicken-keeping device – that is, visitors who brought poultry would stash them inside these bits of furniture for safekeeping.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan Interior

Inside, we got the opportunity to speak to the owners: Emman and Franz, who are the pastry geniuses behind Eggenflour. We learned a lot of interesting things about the shop, including the fact that some of their cutlery and decor are genuine antiques!

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan painting and oil lamps

And indeed, one would see that many things about the shop appear old-fashioned. You have to admire how well the heirloom items, such as this lovely china plate, have been maintained.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan antique plate

On the right wall is a high shelf where they store gifts from friends. Sadly, I was not able to take a photo of that; it’s an interesting display, and I bet Emman could have told us a fun story or two about them.

Emman told us that Eggenflour used to supply cakes and pastries to other establishments, but then they realized their talents wouldn’t be recognized if they kept on supplying their wares anonymously.

And how lucky we are that they set up their own independent shop! If their bestselling black forest (P100 per slice, P760 for an entire cake) is representative of their baking prowess, their pastries are nothing short of divine.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan black forest cake slice

They may specialize in cakes – their cheesecakes also come highly recommended – but they also offer perfectly delectable pasta and pizza, for hungry food trippers like my friend and I.

You read that right – even if there was no chicken pastel, we were not at all disappointed with the non-pastry dishes!

We got the Pasta al Pomodoro (P110)

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan Pasta al Pomodoro

…and the Quattro Formaggi pizza (P200) and we did not regret it one bit. Both the pasta and pizza were very tasty and filling! Certainly well worth it, for the price.

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan quattro formaggi pizza

Ah, but we couldn’t forget what we’d gone there for – the coffee!

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan hot americano

You can get all their coffees hot or iced, and I got the hot americano (P60) while my friend got the iced americano (P70).

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan hot and iced americano coffee

The coffee was really good – it had a strong, earthy aftertaste that went really well with the dark chocolate of the cake we were having. I don’t doubt it would go even better with less “dark” sweet flavors, such as fruit-based cheesecakes.

You could request for a small cup of steamed milk to go with your hot or iced coffee (they don’t serve cream), and Splenda if you’re not a big fan of sugar.

Emman revealed that their coffee was their own special blend, which they tested and finalized at their coffee supplier’s site. Thanks to Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan, Bulacan, I’ve come to think it’s important to have one’s own coffee blend if you want people to know that you take your desserts seriously… and Eggenflour clearly does!

Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan Bulacan cake display

A small sign on their front door says they deliver. When I asked Emman about it, he said they used a third party delivery service, and could only deliver to nearby areas.

So, sorry Manila folks – you’ll have to travel to Meycauayan for a taste of the awesome cakes. But trust me, it’s well worth the trip! You may even end up bringing a box or two home to your folks, so they can sample Eggenflour’s talents for themselves.

For good coffee, great food, a cozy, relaxing ambiance and outstanding cakes, come by Avenida Pasteleria in Meycauayan, Bulacan.


Avenida Pasteleria
Unit I St. Michael Commercial Center
Zeus Corner Peso Streets, St. Michael Homes
Meycauayan, Bulacan

Open at 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM every day except Tuesdays

Tel: 0917 518 3628 (call this number for deliveries, or if you need directions) ; 044 693 3532

Official Facebook page

Instagram account

Twitter account


[Erratum: I’d misspelled the name of one of the proprietors, Mr. Emman Santos, as “Eman” earlier. This has been fixed!]

Philippine coffee reviews by Kan Tejada

Taking a break from my ongoing series to share someone else’s cool Philippine coffee reviews. Mr. Kan Tejada posted a writeup on Facebook where he shares his insight on coffee bought from “non-coffee shops”, mostly convenience stores and fast food locations such as KFC, McDonald’s and Jollibee.

I love reading Philippine coffee reviews, and Mr. Tejada’s writeup is just so systematic and organized, I want others to read it, too. He compares coffee bought from the following stores:

1. 7-Eleven
2. Army Navy
3. Burger King
4. Chowking
5. Dunkin Donuts
6. Family Mart
7. J.Co
8. Jollibee
9. KFC
10. Krispy Kreme
11. McDonald’s
12. Mister Donut
13. Toast Box

Here is the writeup in full:

Pick-me-up Brewed Coffee Tasting from Non-Coffee Shops

Objective: To qualitatively determine the most acceptable brewed coffee served by non-cafe based on three parameters – Extraction Quality, Overall Sensory Appeal and Consistency.
Definition of Terms

Extraction Quality – Quality will be perceived on the high side if coffee served does not have off-notes on both aroma and taste. Coffee is served at the right temperature.
Overall Sensory Appeal – It pertains to total perceived sensory parameters. These includes overall aroma intensity and quality, overall taste and quality, flavor quality and balance, body, strength of bitterness, acidity and sweetness and unique tasting notes if any.

Consistency – It pertains to proximity of batches of coffee served per visit or per store.

Brewed coffee – For the purpose of this tasting, it was limited to drip coffee (i.e. not using espresso machine) served in stores.

Scope and Limitations: The tasting was conducted for four months, cut short from the original six to eight months across different stores in Quezon City, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pasay, Taguig and those along NLEX and SLEX. Consumption was either in-store or to-go. Coffee consumed for this tasting were all in black i.e. no additional creamer or any form of sweetener. Price is not considered on the determination of the most acceptable coffee but I will put up a special section for that. This tasting project is limited to brewed coffee over drip machine of any form served in stores not classified as a specialty coffee place (e.g. EDSA BDG, Yardstick, Toby’s) or commercial cafe (e.g. Starbucks, UCC, CBTL, Figaro, Bo’s). Places serving coffee using espresso machines are also excluded. With these filters, main channels considered are pastry shops and fast food chains and convenience stores.

Project was done alone but tasting was regularly calibrated to be consistent. Sensory acceptance was based on my training on Coffee Cupping from SCAA through BCAA and multiple interactions with specialty coffee shops coupled with my work experience involving coffee products. Results may vary with your preference. Only one cup was consumed for at least three hours to avoid taste fatigue or carry-overs. Supplier of coffee beans was not also determined to reduce bias on conclusions. Feel free to share, I will be a happy and attentive listener.

Duration: 10 December 2015 – 10 April 2016 with verification tasting from 11 April – 29 April 2016.

Stores: 7-Eleven, Army Navy, Burger King, Chowking, Dunkin Donuts, Family Mart, J.Co, Jollibee, KFC, Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s, Mister Donut, Toast Box

(Breadtalk was initially included but was removed due to misfit in the scope.)


Top 3 – Krispy Kreme, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts

Best Extraction Quality – Krispy Kreme and J.Co

Most Consistent – Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme

Best Overall Sensory Appeal – Krispy Kreme and Burger King

Trivia: Krispy Kreme has two blends of coffee – Smooth and Rich. Smooth has more acidity and more balanced cup. Rich is sweeter and has dark chocolate finish for a fuller and more rounded taste delivery.


The Budget Tier – quality coffee at price point of Php 40 and below

>Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s and KFC

Food Lovers – coffee which complements well with top food choice in respective location.

>Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King

Sugar Lovers – coffee with best sensory improvement when consumed by adding sugar only to taste. It works for coffee with higher intensity of burnt and toasty notes in its sensory profile. Having nutty notes (BK) and a strong pleasant bitter finish (DD) also complements the additional of sugar. The additional flavor and body from creamer will have diminishing benefits compared to sugar only. An additional dose of sugar may be added when drinking from a paper cup to eliminate the papery note coming naturally from the cup.

>Dunkin Donuts, KFC, Burger King, Family Mart UCC

Condiment Lovers – coffee with best sensory improvement when consumed by adding both sugar and creamer to taste. For J.Co, the sensory profile of the cup is not dynamic and it helps to boost with creamer (or milk) and sugar for better acceptance on non-black drinkers. For the other two, due to the persistence of the earthy note and bordering unpleasant burnt and bitter finish, creamer lessens the unpleasant flavors by altering both the taste and the body.

>J.Co, McDonald’s, Jollibee

The Bottom Two – these coffee ranked lowest on extraction quality, consistency and overall Sensory appeal. There is wide variation in the sensory profile across stores and the finish is unpleasant. Burnt and earthy notes are highlighted negatively.

>Mister Donut, City Blends

Final Words: This tasting project journey has been great for me. It made me see better the coffee landscape that we have and it made me understand the culture of Filipinos on coffee. Since I do most of the drinking alone, I get to observe how people interact with and over coffee. I also observed the involuntary behaviours of people with drinking coffee. Most of the coffee I drank are not ready to be drinkable at first sip. Burger King, J.Co and Krispy Kreme are the only ones that are. It may be stemming from the culture of us Filipinos of getting coffee and letting it sit first for a few minutes before we indulge in our favourite drink.

I am a fan of specialty coffee and as much as possible, I will brew my own cup of coffee with my go-to Aeropress. This is the inspiration why I went on to this journey – to determine the best alternative when I cannot brew my own cup and to be able to dig deeper on the Philippine coffee landscape. I feel happy to have created sensory memories of different coffee selections in various locations. If you can drink your coffee black, do it. There is more to coffee than satisfying your own taste preference but do not be pressured. What matters most is you enjoy your coffee and live the moment you spent with it.

(PS: I should make my own ranking sometime. Taste-wise, I think J.Co’s coffee would rank even lower than Mister Donut. Although I really love J.Co donuts!)

(PPS: This post was edited on 9 July 2016, with the correct link, and the text reproduced in full, with permission from Mr. Kan Tejada.)

I’d love to share more Philippine coffee reviews. Got a review, or know a link to one? Post it in the comments!

Coffee Shop Spotlight: Art Circle Cafe in Makati

Art Circle Cafe has been in UP Diliman for some years now. But recently, they opened a second branch nearer to my place of work, and from what I’ve seen, Art Circle Cafe in Makati could be a great place to hang.

I stumbled across Art Circle Cafe in Makati when I decided to take a scenic route to work, and as I was passing by, my tummy rumbled, reminding me that it was lunchtime.

(photo from Art Circle Cafe’s official Facebook page)

I wasn’t really in the mood for coffee (it was such a hot day!) but I thought I’d step in for a cold drink and a bite to eat.

Then I saw the menu and I realized I wanted hot coffee. Very badly.


The place was rather cool, but not too cool – just enough for me to be able to enjoy something hot without fearing my blood pressure going through the roof.

There are 4 coffee brews to choose from: Sagada, Barako, Benguet and Kalinga. Regardless of brew, a cup costs P60.

I had trouble choosing my coffee, because 1) I really wasn’t craving coffee at that time of day, and 2) the selections all looked so good.

The sweet, friendly lady manning the counter advised that I try the Sagada brew, which was the mildest blend, and their bestseller.

I said okay.


I took a sip… and it was REALLY GOOD COFFEE. The taste was mild, as advertised, but it wasn’t mild in the “weak” sense – the better synonym may well be “smooth.” It was so good I just couldn’t mix anything in with it, and drank it black all the way through.

I limited myself to one cup that day, and decided I was going to even it out with some carbonara (P215).


The pasta…could have been tastier. But it was filling, for the price.

I asked about the artwork on display. I was told they were all for sale, and in fact some pieces already had marks on them, which told me they were already sold.

Some of the artwork was quite eye-catching.




I was shown a folder of artwork for sale. I was unable to get nice shots because I didn’t bring my good camera (again! argh).






Before I end this post, here’s another good blog post about the Art Circle Cafe in Makati, with better pictures. Those cake photos look so good!

If anyone reading this happens to be interested in any of the artwork, please feel free to drop by the Art Circle Cafe in Makati to inquire, or leave them a message at their official Facebook pages.


Art Circle Cafe
G/F Y2 Residence Hotel
Santiago corner Singian
Street, Makati City

Official Facebook page

Official Facebook page of the Makati branch

Coffee Shop Spotlight: StrangeBrew Coffee in Meycauayan, Bulacan

I often pass by StrangeBrew Coffee in Meycauayan, Bulacan and I admit, it piqued my curiosity. It’s a coffee shop in a low-traffic area with a catchy name and an artsy-looking layout – it definitely catches the imagination. Really, it was just a matter of time before I caved and paid a visit.

So, one day, my friend Ladybug (real name withheld to protect the guilty) and I were in the area, and we got it into our heads to drop by. This post is going to be a rundown of our first experience of StrangeBrew Coffee in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

The cafe is located in St. Michael Homes, Meycauayan, Bulacan. It stands out from the other shops in the vicinity, and the well-maintained exterior kind of reminds me of a sophisticated Manila cafe.

The color scheme of the logo – and, indeed, of the whole place itself – strikes me as decidedly dark and masculine.

But inside there’s a certain cozy, relaxed feel, which tells me the ambiance is responsible for what looks like a steady stream of regulars.

The place was full when we got there, around 5:30 pm. It was apparently “happy hour,” meaning P10 off most drinks from 1pm to 6 m. Notably, the patrons were mostly young people – students in their teens, and young professionals in their 20s and 30s.

The prices on the menu are already quite attractive for young people with tight budgets – P75 a drink is not a bad deal. With the happy hour discount, you get it for P10 less! (PS: sorry for all the blurry images. The lighting inside the shop was a bit dim and as it was a spur of the moment trip, I did not bring my good camera.)

Ladybug got their Double Choco (petite size – P75).

I was in the mood for something basic, so I got their americano (hot – P75. For an additional P10, you can get it “iced up”).

We also got pasta with our coffee. Speaking of pasta, TODAY would be a great time to go there, because StrangeBrew is celebrating their 3rd year anniversary with a promo:

(photo from StrangeBrew’s official Facebook page. click on the photo to view the promo on their page)

The place was packed and buzzing, and I had no opportunity to interview the staff. I wanted to ask a couple of things. Off the top of my head, some of them were:

  1. Why was the place named “StrangeBrew”? Was it influenced in any way by the early-2000s show hosted by the beloved late comedian Tado, which shares its name?
  2. What would they attribute to their success, in spite of being located in a low-traffic area?
  3. Why is their logo a chibi (or super-deformed [SD], if that’s the more familiar term) of a naked person holding a coffee cup?? Is this chibi supposed to look like the owner? Intriguing!

If you’re living nearby, consider dropping by StrangeBrew Coffee in Meycauyan, Bulacan today for their anniversary special.


StrangeBrew Coffee
Location: Unit 1 CDN- MARO Apt, corner Peso St and Rand St., St Michael Homes, Meycauayan, Bulacan
Schedule: Open daily, 11am to 1am

Visit their official Facebook page.

Only 3 Philippine Shops in PayWithAPoem 2016?

(image from the official Julius Meinl website)

There are certain times of the year when we celebrate coffee. There’s the International Coffee Day, for example, which takes place on October the 1st every year. There are the many international Barista championships, the International Queen of Coffee Beauty Pageant…and then there’s the PayWithAPoem initiative.

As someone who loves both coffee and poetry, I feel the need to write an entire blog post dedicated to this event.

What is the PayWithAPoem initiative?

This global event was initiated in 2015 by Austrian coffee manufacturer and retailer Julius Meinl in honor of World Poetry Day. Basically, on March 21 of every year, you can step into participating shops and pay for your coffee with an original poem.

The official website of Julius Meinl provides resources for this initiative (the one they made for 2016 is here). The hashtags “#PayWithAPoem” and “#PoetryForChange” are often used on social media by poets and shops to indicate their participation.

Which Philippine shops participated in this year’s PayWithaPoem initiative?

Since the official map of participating shops on the Meinl website didn’t yield any hits for the Philippines, I had to turn to Google.

In a country like the ours, where many small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a strong social media presence, Google is admittedly not the most reliable tool for compiling resources. However, it felt like the only tool I had at my disposal. That, and Tagboard, which helped me crawl through social media sites via hashtags.

My feeble cyber-detective skills were severely tested, and on World Poetry Day itself, my research turned up only 3 names:

I use the term “shops” and not “cafes” or “coffee houses” because of course you don’t have to be a cafe or a specialty coffee shop to participate. Also, I wouldn’t strictly classify Kamuning Bakery as a cafe. It is, in fact, a local culinary institution, having been around for 77 years.

Of the three shops listed, only Kamuning Bakery posted updates about patrons’ contributions to World Poetry Day – leading one to wonder how successful it was at the other cafes mentioned. It seems like it was a good day for Kamuning Bakery, however! Lots of lovely contributions shared on their Facebook page, for example:

One of numerous diverse #poems by customers yesterday at #worldpoetryday celebration in #kamuningbakerycafe #poetry #poet #literature #nofilter #picoftheday #instalike

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#poetry in #photography by #kamuningbakerycafe customer Giselle Kasilag, this picture taken yesterday during celebration…

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Visual #poetry by #kamuningbakerycafe customer Giselle Kasilag in her beautiful #photography, displayed alongside…

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#Poetry, #coffee, good foods & pugon-baked cakes/breads… One of the delightful #poems by customers of…

Posted by Kamuning Bakery on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Why Would Philippine shops want to participate?

That’s a good question. I guess one way to find out is to ask the establishments that participated, and the ones that knew about it but chose not to participate. I may get back to you later on this.

Speaking for myself, as a coffee-lover who loves literature: I want more people to see for themselves how coffee can fuel the creative writing spirit. I want more people in my very literate country to participate in World Poetry Day, and I want more shops to offer an incentive for that!

If you know of other shops located in the Philippines that participated in the PayWithAPoem initiative, either this year or in the past year (2015, when the movement began), please let me know in a comment on this post!

Coffee Shop Spotlight: Style Studio Cafe etc. in Marilao, Bulacan

One of my objectives for this blog is to feature lesser-known cafes and coffee shops in the Philippines. So, besides writing about coffee kiosks, I’d also like to write about remarkable coffee houses in less popular areas. One such coffee house is the newly-opened Style Studio Cafe etc. in Marilao, Bulacan.

This is a place I’ve passed by many times, but it was the first time I found it open. As it happens, I usually pass by it in the mornings, and Style Studio Cafe etc. in Marilao, Bulacan opens at 1 PM.

The fancy storefront catches attention. The signage is shiny and new, and who can resist hanging around to ogle those lovely dresses on display?

I stepped in, and found the interior of the cafe to be cozy and roomy. And certainly a pleasant break from the heat of the summer sun!

Inside, I was fortunate enough to meet one of the cafe’s two owners, Ms. Eileen Conde. She very nicely answered my questions and let me roam the cafe, taking photos, while I waited for my order.

Ms. Eileen is a professional events organizer. She said she and her business partner, Mr. Ross Paris, opened the cafe only this January.

I asked why they didn’t decide to open at SM Marilao, where there’s more foot traffic. She said SM Marilao is easily flooded, which I have to admit is true. The current location of Style Studio Cafe etc. is more or less flood-free. As it’s also near a private hospital and a major crossroads, I feel it’s a great choice for an independent establishment.

I asked Ms. Eileen about the dresses on display. She said the dresses were part of their “theme.”

Ms. Eileen’s business partner, the General Manager of Style Studio Cafe etc., Mr. Ross Paris, is a photographer. He’s in charge of the second floor studio, which I was not able to enter. Ms. Eileen said I was welcome to explore it later in the evening, but I guess I’ll just see if I can take a peek up there, the next time I come by.

Samples of his work grace one wall of the cafe. Mr. Ross Paris, a chef, is also in charge of the food and drinks in the cafe.

The one who prepared my order was Ms. Ice (I hope I got the spelling right!), who was very accommodating and friendly. She told me they use Batangas Arabica beans for their coffee.

This was the drink I got. I was only able to take a photo of it when I got home, and it was already late…sorry for the lousy lighting!

It’s their Coffee Jelly drink (P120), which Ms. Ice said was their bestseller. I liked it! I found myself wishing it had just a bit more coffee, though, because the cream flavor was a bit overwhelming. But fans of cream-based drinks will certainly enjoy it.

I thought it might be good to pair up the coffee jelly drink with a cupcake. I asked Ms. Ice for her recommendation, and she said the red velvet was their bestseller.

I do not regret taking her recommendation. It was probably the BEST red velvet cupcake I’ve ever had. And I’m not even a fan of red velvet cupcakes! I generally find them too bland, so I was not prepared for how the Style Studio Cafe etc. red velvet cupcake (P55 – P65 if taken home in a box) exceeded my expectations.

The cream cheese topping is rich and just perfectly whipped. I especially like how citrusy it is. Balance it out with a cup of your favorite iced coffee blend for a nice, smooth sugar rush.

The next time I’m in the area, I’d like to try their other blends. And maybe their hot coffees, too, even if the weather is warm.

If you come by hungry, they also offer pizza, pasta, pancakes, sandwiches, and salads, among others. Style Studio Cafe etc. is overall a cool, restful place to hang out, alone or with one’s friends.


Style Studio Cafe etc. in Marilao, Bulacan
Location: Poblacion 2 Mc Arthur Highway Marilao Crossing. Marilao, Bulacan
Landmarks: Near Foodmaster, Mercury Drug and St. Michael Hospital
Schedule: Open daily, Sunday-Thurday 1pm to 11pm. Friday-Saturday 1pm to 12am

Visit their official Facebook page.