Alabang Coffee Crawl Series: 3 hidden coffee gems south of the metropolis
We ventured south to meet an old but well-loved friend, sample coffee from the local mafia, and change the way we look at decaf forever.
by Coffee Crawl Series Team
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For the Coffee Crawl Series’ first crawl for the summer, we decided to set out south for the second time, to Alabang, to check out its latest coffee offerings. On this leg of the series, we plotted out three stops starting at Commercenter, going around West Gate, and ending at Molito. Also for the first time, our crawl was captured on video! Big thanks to Von AKA @brewthecoffeeph. You can watch the vlog at the end of this post.
Coffee Syndicate was the starting point of the Alabang Coffee Crawl Series. We waited for the coffee crawlers to arrive at the room on the second floor. The room was cozy, with a den-like feel. Very much like a hidden meeting place for organized groups, a syndicate. It felt like being in The Godfather film. It felt like we were about to witness some action… some coffee brewing action that is, from the skilled Coffee Syndicate baristas.
We were warmly welcomed by the shop owners, Carlos, Amy, Gus, and Audrey. They passionately talked about how Coffee Syndicate was born out of their quest for the best tasting coffee in the metro.
They roast their own coffee beans and we were able to try four of their single-origin coffees, brewed via pour-over: Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Ethiopia, and Benguet. As we enjoyed tasting the different coffees, Carlos and Amy guided us in determining the taste notes in each cup.
Before moving on to the next shop, some of us decided to take our lunch at Coffee Syndicate. I had their sardine pasta and it was really good! And the others were happy with their food orders too. With happy tummies and caffeine fix fulfilled, the crawl had a great start.
Bean & Yolk
Having visited Bean & Yolk in Poblacion, it was a must for CCS to visit their Alabang home. The new location is much bigger and brighter, with soothing pastel interiors and a full menu alongside the signature egg sandwiches and specialty coffee.
As before, founder Papo Jorolan welcomed us and shared Bean & Yolk’s origin story. The cafe began as an attempt to bring to Manila the experience of her favorite Aussie cafes: coffee and comfort food made to a very high standard, but in a genuinely relaxed, shorts-, pet- and kid-friendly atmosphere.
Then it was time for our informal cupping. York, the head barista, had a winning icebreaker: besides coffee, what’s your favorite drink? (It turns out this batch of coffee crawlers loves milk tea and water.)
First-time and veteran cuppers alike fell hard for Ardi Sidama and Tade GG Estate, as well as El Paraiso and Vista al Bosque — all four from Singapore’s Common Man Roasters, with whom Bean & Yolk has an ongoing supply partnership — while also appreciating the beans from local roasters Yardstick and Crescendo Coffee.
But just as much fun as tasting the coffee is talking about it afterward — and “rebalancing” our taste buds with egg salad mini-toasts and sweet potato fries! Not your expected coffee pairing, but definitely the perfect close to our reunion with an old friend.
Exchange Alley Coffee House
For our last stop, we headed to Molito to try specialty decaf coffee at Exchange Alley Coffee House, or E.A.C.H (read as “each”) for short. Yes, this is a thing. And like you probably are right now, I was equally curious and doubtful of what’s to come — decaf coffee to me has always been a flavorless affair akin to drinking hot water to ease the occasional indigestion.
Jonathan, owner of Exchange Alley (and Magnum Opus in BF Homes), explained to us the Swiss Water Process. Without getting too technical, SWP is a way to decaffeinate coffee without the use of chemicals thus fully maintaining the flavor profiles of the beans. To demonstrate this, Jonathan, and Geo, 5th placer in the recently concluded Philippine Brewers Cup, conducted a blind cupping for us: lined up on the table were five kinds of coffees, one of which was decaffeinated. Our mission was to spot which one.
At first, I was confident that I would be able to pick the decaf from the lineup. Unsurprisingly, I was wrong! But nobody got it right either. For the big reveal, Jonathan named the coffees on the table: Kenyan AB, Ethiopian, a Brazilian espresso blend (the one I suspected to be the decaf!), washed Guatemala, and the sneaky decaf which was a washed Colombian. As a fitting end to our late afternoon visit (and without a doubt to make sure we come back), Exchange Alley wowed us with the very tasty Snooze duet — a decaf cortado and espresso served side by side.
Exchange Alley Coffee House
Molito, Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila
For residents of the northern and eastern Manila, is the coffee in the south worth the trip? We’d say yes! All three shops we’ve visited had something unique to offer and the ambiance on that side of the city is quite something on slow weekend afternoons. If you don’t have your own ride, P2P buses depart from Glorietta every hour even on Saturdays and Sundays.
As promised, here’s the video of the crawl. And don’t forget to check out Von Vlogs on YouTube.
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