Katipunan Coffee Crawl Series: A 3-in-1 coffee connoisseur’s first foray into the world of real coffee

One afternoon, three coffee shops in Katipunan. This is the Katipunan Coffee Crawl Series.

by Monica Macaraeg

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When I told friends that I was joining a coffee crawl one weekend, I was met by a few iterations of the same reaction: bewilderment. Followed by the question What exactly are you going to do? In a city where almost everybody drinks coffee and professes their love for it, you’d think that coffee crawling would be more common. Two Saturdays ago, I found out that this activity is for the truly curious, passionate, and ready to be schooled. And I was two of those three things.

I came across the open invitation on Instagram where I follow more than a dozen accounts dedicated to coffee. Don’t judge — I find images of intricate latte art, paper cups filled with dark liquid, and warmly lit spaces very therapeutic. I also do this to scout local coffee shops where I could work the next time I tire of typing away on my dining table.

A self-professed coffee lover, I must admit that I felt a little embarrassed to actually know very little about coffee. I said I loved it but I didn’t know much about it. Sounds like a bad romance, doesn’t it?

A few years ago, I produced web content for a coffee roaster based in Florida. During my research, I became familiar with the Aeropress, pour over, the single origin coffees, Blue Mountain, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, etc. However, these were all just terminology to me. I’ve never had a sip or a whiff of the aromas I’d been describing. What I’ve read about coffee sparked a curiosity in me though. But it wasn’t until a couple of years later, long after my contract with the coffee roaster had ended, that I chanced upon my first delicious cup while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. I was told was a Mt.Kitanglad — it was black but it wasn’t bitter and it didn’t leave an awful aftertaste in my mouth. It was a revelation of sorts and I wanted to know more. So when the opportunity to explore came, I jumped on it.

Fast forward to the day of the coffee crawl. I met @coffeecrawlerph, who was until then a faceless but friendly Instagram coffee account, and the rest of the crawlers at our first stop: Ella and the Blackbird.

When I arrived, everyone was gathered around a long table introducing themselves and sharing their coffee journey. It was a merry band of the just curious and the experienced. There were foodies, home baristas, a professional barista, and even a cafe owner. Ever the socially awkward person that I am, you can imagine how anxious I felt at the prospect of speaking up. What do I tell them? That I’m a connoisseur of 3-in-1’s? That I’ve only
recently bought a French press? In the end there wasn’t much to say except the truth. They listened and welcomed me with their warmth and generosity of knowledge. And so the fun began.

Ella and the Blackbird

Ella and the Blackbird could be a pub from the outside but then you come in and find that there is no bar, only a counter from which you pay in front and watch them brew your order on the side. Here I met the celebrity of my coffee life — the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. I’ve read about it, written about it, but for the first time in my life, I was going to taste it. And it didn’t disappoint. We had it prepared two ways: by V60 and Aeropress. To me, it tasted light and fruity both ways (a flavor, I learned, that can be described as berry) but a bit more flavorful via V60.

Ella and the Blackbird
88 Esteban Abada St, Quezon City, 1800 Metro Manila, Philippines
Facebook: facebook.com/ellaandtheblackbird
Instagram: @ellaandtheblackbird

Equatorial Coffee

After a quick lunch, we walked to our second shop: Equatorial Coffee. A bright space with a few different seating options, it looked like a great place to catch up with friends, read a book, or get some work done over a cup of coffee. What we had at Equatorial was perfect for the humid weather outside the cafe’s cool glass windows: two kinds of cold brew. One black and brewed for 24 hours, and the other steeped in milk, a pretty unique way to prepare a cold brew coffee. Served in carafes, both brews were refreshing and neither was too sweet.

As the afternoon wore on, the warm buzz of friendly chatter filled the small space and I got to know everyone a little better. I find it amazing how coffee, which many people consider as nothing more than daily sustenance, can bring people who are so different from each other together. Everyone is friends over a cup of coffee.

Equatorial Coffee
Miranda Building, 325 F dela Rosa, Lungsod Quezon, Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines
Equatorial Coffee has already closed by the time this post was published.

Common Folk

For our last stop, we took a quick ride to White Plains for Common Folk Coffee Bar. We arrived in a downpour but all gloom dissipated once we walked into the coffee shop. Common Folk’s interior is clean and striking at the same time. White-gray cement walls, wooden tables, and a spacious counter where you can be privy to how your coffee is made. And of course, there’s the red neon sign reading No Bad Days, glowing bright and giving the space a bar vibe.

Here we had the most unexpected coffee of the day: Yunnan coffee from China. From China! The group was abuzz with excitement as the coffee was prepared via siphon and aeropress — as a newbie, my fascination in seeing a siphon at work for the first time must be excused.

To say that Yunnan coffee is intriguing would be an understatement. The group has never been more divided as to how a coffee tasted. It was different for everyone! And more interestingly, its flavor kept changing as it cooled down until you were left with a distinct oolong tea flavor.

Common Folk Coffee
Bellitudo Lifestyle Strip 79 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City
Facebook: facebook.com/commonfolkph
Instagram: @commonfolkph

So, should you join a coffee crawl?

If you like coffee and you like meeting new people, it’s a resounding yes. This is the perfect opportunity for you to explore the local coffee scene. You also get to sample different coffees for a fraction of the cost and in a very friendly atmosphere. Now, what if you like coffee but hate people? Well, I say, you should still give it a shot because this crowd might change your mind like they have changed mine.

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Katipunan Coffee Crawl Series: A 3-in-1 coffee connoisseur’s first foray into the world of real coffee