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MANILA, Philippines – Coffee snobs and newbies might finally find common ground! Singapore’s Common Man Coffee Roasters (CMCR) formally launched its first Philippine branch in Makati City on January 10, bringing new competition into Metro Manila’s coffee scene.
Situated at Ayala Triangle Gardens, the café and brunch concept boasts of indoor and al fresco dining options, with a wide window that can be folded to further open the space up to the park’s greenery. Tan wood and bright accents lend the store a natural but also lively feel.
One of CMCR’s standout features is its own roastery – this is where it roasts the coffee beans that are sourced from farms in various parts of the world. The Wiang Pa Pao beans, for example, come from Thailand, while Jabanto beans come from Ethiopia.
The café’s baristas are more than willing to share their wisdom on all things coffee, being graduates of the CMCR Barista Academy. At the bar, we were given a brewing demo, where they showed us the best way to brew Wiang Pa Pao and Jabanto: wetting the filter paper with water first to get rid of the paper taste, throwing the water out, and then letting the grounds sit in hot water for a couple of minutes.
As the baristas explained, Wiang Pa Pao has a soft fruitiness to it and a hint of dark chocolate, while Jabanto is more floral in flavor. Even to the untrained palate, the differences are apparent and can be appreciated by more casual coffee drinkers (like me)!
With an emphasis on making quality coffee accessible, CMCR’s coffee menu is curated for everyone to enjoy – from casual coffee drinkers to aficionados alike. We first tried the classic Long Black, which was fruity and acidic. CMCR serves the drink in two sizes, regular (P140) and large (P160).
The next caffeinated beverage was the Flat White, the best I’ve tried. Unlike other flat whites I’ve had before, CMCR’s version has just the right amount of creaminess that enhances the coffee’s flavors instead of overpowering it. It also comes in two sizes, regular (P180) and large (P200).
Also on the menu is the Nitro Honey Oat Latte (P250), served iced. Sweet, creamy, and with a nuttier flavor, the Nitro Honey Oat Latte is one of CMCR’s more unique offerings, and one I’d recommend for those looking for a plant-based cup of joe, though I wish the serving size better justified the price.
Other espresso items on CMCR’s menu include the Latte and Cappuccino (both costing P180 regular, P200 large, P220 iced), Hot Chocolate (P170 regular, P190 large, P210 iced), Mocha and Chai Latte (both costing P200 regular, P220 large, P240 iced), Espresso (P140), Espresso Macchiato (P170), Long Macchiato (P190), and Magic/Piccolo/Cortado (P170).
CMCR also offers filter coffee, like the classic Cold Brew (P190). For the Slow Brew (P220), you can choose from the store’s available single origins, which will be manually brewed for you. The Fast Brew (P190) is the barista’s choice of single origin, brewed as a batch and ready to go.
At price points close to those of the metro’s prominent cafés and brands, CMCR’s coffee menu stands out in quality and flavor. But how does its brunch menu fare?
Brunch, all day and every day
CMCR’s food menu takes inspiration from the typical Australian brunch – healthy, filling, but decadent, with quality ingredients sourced from local farms.
The first on our spread was the Common Man Full Breakfast (P750). If you’re willing to splurge, you’ll be greeted with two eggs prepared your way (ours was poached perfectly) atop sourdough toast, portobello mushrooms that really come through with the umami flavor, crispy bacon, pork sausage, baked chorizo beans, a perfectly salted and crispy hash brown, and spinach and herbed tomatoes to balance out the dish’s intense savory flavors.
It’s easy to be intimidated by its price, which does lean toward the expensive side, but with its serving size fit for two to three people, you’ll find the Common Man Full Breakfast satisfying.
The second brunch item we tried was the Not Your Common Pancakes (P550). These are wheat pancakes with caramelized bananas, caramelized walnut crumble, salted caramel sauce, and berry coulis. Cooked on a cast iron skillet, the pancakes are fluffy and just sweet enough to give way to the caramel sauce and coulis without it all being cloying.
The walnut crumble also brings a welcome variation to the dish’s texture, and the flower petals make a gorgeous garnish. While I estimate that the pancakes can serve two people, I do find the price to be daunting.
CMCR’s all-day brunch menu includes vegetarian offerings like the Common Man Veggie Wonderland (P850), which puts a spin on the full breakfast with avocado and halloumi cheese, Turkish Breakfast (P850), Mushroom Avocado Toast (P550), Acai Bowl (P850), and Sauteed Kale and Creamy Egg White Scramble (P550). They also have the Beef Brisket Benedict (P650), Sourdough Croque Monsieur (P550), and House-made Crunchy Granola (P650).
The last dish we tried was the Cubanos Sandwich (P650), one of the CMCR classics. This sandwich uses rosemary focaccia as its base, with slow-cooked pork, shaved ham, jalapeño, gherkins, mustard mayo, and raisin chutney in between.
All these ingredients came together so well, with just the right salty and herby flavors. What really stood out to me though were the fries, thick-cut and herbed, and the accompanying beetroot BBQ sauce that brought a fruity sweetness to the whole dish. The only downside to the Cubanos Sandwich is its price, which I think is a bit much especially because it’ll probably serve only two people at most.
Other classics in the CMCR menu are the Conti Sandwich (P690), Smash Burger (P690), Chili Chicken (P680), Fried Chicken (P550), Grilled Veggie Salad (P550), Crab Salad (P740), Margherita Pizza (P550), Four Cheese Pizza (P730), and Chorizo Pizza (P550).
CMCR also serves desserts, like the Common Man Churros (P350), Not Your Common Chocolate Cake (P370) served with vanilla ice cream, Tiramisu (P480), and Yuzu Cheesecake (P440).
Aside from the coffee, refreshments also include various fruit juices, caffeinated booze, craft beer, and wine.
While CMCR tries to make good quality specialty coffee accessible to everyone, its brunch fare is likely to appeal more to those who may be willing to splurge. If you’re on a budget, get their Flat White and then maybe grab a bite elsewhere. Otherwise, kick back at Common Man Coffee Roasters and enjoy an Australian brunch amid the breeze and fresh greenery of Ayala Triangle Gardens.
From starting in Singapore in 2013, CMCR expanded to Malaysia and then the Philippines. Jollibee Foods Corporation announced in August 2023 that it was bringing the brand to the Philippines, and the Makati branch opened its doors to customers a few months later, in December. – Rappler.com