A different sip: Alternative coffee shops

Pia Ranada
This rainy season, try out 3 coffee shops that offer something different

COFFEE BLISS. Rainy days make you want to tuck in with a cup of hot coffee. All photos by Pia Ranada

MANILA, Philippines – Nothing makes you want to curl up indoors with a cup of hot coffee more than the rainy season. Something about the sound of raindrops and the idea of the outside world getting drenched imbues coffee with an aura of comfort and bliss.

This monsoon season, take your rain boots out for a trip to 3 coffee shops you may have heard of but never visited. These alternatives to ubiquitous cafe franchises make for perfect dates, impromptu study sessions or random brooding on rainy afternoons.

1. Craft Coffee Workshop

COFFEE CRAFT. Craft Coffee Workshop focuses on the natural taste of coffee and recommends drinking it without sugar or cream

As its name suggests, this little cafe on the corner of Broadway Avenue and E. Rodriguez Avenue in New Manila is devoted to the craft of making coffee.

Here, the focus is on the natural taste of coffee, which explains why their coffee tastes more bitter than the sweet coffee confections of mainstream coffee shops. They don’t even serve frappes because according to barista Michael Guieb, “You add sugar in frappes. We recommend you don’t drink coffee with anything.” 

COFFEE MANIA. Declarations of love for coffee abound in Craft Coffee Workshop

He refers to Craft Coffee Workshop as a “specialty coffee bar” that treats coffee-making as a science. 

“We have strict parameters for our drip or pour-over coffee. Everything from water temperature, grind size to the weight of the coffee is measured.” 

They specialize in single origins coffee that use coffee beans from a specific country. They have beans from Brazil, Ethiopia and Columbia.

Does it matter where coffee beans come from? Guieb says, in terms of the coffee’s taste, it does.

SINGLE ORIGIN. Try some Ethiopia Yirgocheffe, the Brew of the Day

Ethiopian beans give a floral, tea-like taste to coffee while beans from Brazil are nutty with hints of malt and cocoa that give the coffee a sweet finish.

True to its advocacy of spreading the science of coffee-making, Craft Coffee Workshop offers barista classes and coffee appreciation sessions upon reservation. Find out more on www.craftcoffeeworkshop.com

They’ll also be brewing in a second store in the Podium, Ortigas in July. 

Open hours: 8am to 10pm, Mondays to Thursdays; 8am to 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays; 9am to 5 pm, Sundays

Wi-Fi: Fast
Music while I was there: Jason Mraz songs
Food served: Pastries, desserts
Check them online: Craft Coffee Workshop Facebook page and www.craftcoffeeworkshop.com 

2. Forte Coffeehouse 

JAZZ AND COFFEE. The facade of Forte Coffeehouse reminds one of jazz bars lit up at night

This cafe on Maginhawa Street, Quezon City combines a love for coffee and music.

A glance at their menu makes this apparent with drinks named Mozart Trio, Oreo Jazz Latte, Ragtime Coffee Jelly and Choclit Banoffee Blues.

Live jazz concerts are held in its second floor events room on Tuesdays. On certain days, they play only jazz music. The cafe also sells books and notebooks for those itching to jot down thoughts while sipping their coffee. 

LATTE ART. A bear smiles from a cup of coffee

Patrons will also delight in the whimsical latte art in each cup of coffee. Aside from hot coffee, they serve ice-blended drinks, tea latte and soy drinks. 

Open hours: 11am to 11pm, Mondays to Saturdays

Wi-Fi: Fast
Music while I was there: Jazz instrumentals
Food served: Rice meals, pastries
Check them online: Forte Coffeehouse Facebook page

3. Epic Cafe 

HOMEY FEEL. The gorgeous wood and brick interiors of Epic Cafe make you feel right at home

“Epic” here describes both the coffee served and the adventures of its founder, bike enthusiast and sportsman Sonny de Leon. 

He is also the man behind Poco Deli, a restaurant that serves American cuisine and wine just a few blocks down East Capitol Drive from Epic Cafe. 

EPICUREAN. Mugs have images of bikes on them

Bikes and coffee make a great — if unexpected — duo in this coffee shop. Race bikes form part of the decor in this gorgeous cafe dominated by brick, wood and vintage furniture from the US. 

Best-sellers on the menu include Sea Salt Caramel frappe, their americano, cappuccino and lattes. 

Cafe visitors are put in the right mood by quotes written with bright-colored chalk on the walls: “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you have to keep moving (Albert Einstein)” and “Coffee fuels brilliant minds and epic rides (Anonymous).”

A PASTRY OR TWO. Drink bitter coffee with something sweet

Open hours: 8am to 10pm, Mondays to Saturdays (will be open on Sundays starting July)

Wi-Fi: Fast
Music while I was there: Coldplay and Adele
Food served: Homemade pastries, ice-cream and sorbet
Check them online: Epic Cafe Facebook page

– Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.