Diliman Coffee Crawl Series: Philippine coffee’s home in the city
Amidst this quiet suburb in Quezon City, Philippine specialty coffee has found its place to thrive in the city.
by Coffee Crawl Series Team
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In recent years, the country’s old capital of Quezon City has reinvented itself as a hip food area, and it’s no surprise that the city’s coffee shops are as diverse as its food offerings. On Feb. 2, we explored the QC neighborhood of Diliman and found Manila’s university town the perfect home for locally-grown specialty coffee.
Within Diliman, all four shops we visited are located in Teachers’ Village: a cluster of streets with matching, old-school Tagalog street names referring to Filipino values. As the name suggests, it was originally set up as affordable off-campus housing for professors at the nearby University of the Philippines, the state school that remains a cradle of student activism.
The UP connection is informal, and the food boom is as much low rents as high ideals. But it makes sense that the most “woke” part of town — with shops recognizably converted from family homes and a strong streak of agricultural, Filipino-first social enterprise — would prove fertile soil to patiently nurture a Filipino-grown specialty coffee scene.
Chapter Coffee Roastery & Cafe
Our first stop for #DilimanCoffeeCrawlSeries was Chapter Coffee Roastery & Cafe. A light and airy space that begs you to sit down for a cup of coffee or two. After introductions, we had a quick cupping of beans that were roasted in-house — Benguet, Colombia, Guatemala, and Misty Valley. Our group was divided into people who liked the bolder flavors of South American coffees and the delicate & tangy African beans. The unanimous crowd-pleaser though is something very close to our hearts: an Atok coffee roasted beautifully that it can rival a Misty Valley.
After the cupping session, they manually brewed some coffees that we liked the best from the lineup. We were impressed by Chapter’s baristas and how knowledgeable they are about the whole process from roasting to brewing. The passion they showed really set the right tone for the rest of our crawl.
SGD Coffee Bodega
SGD’s shop, aptly named “Bodega,” is a coffee shop, cafe, events place, roasting facility, and a school (called Coffee Science Center) in one!
“It was really a bodega (storage house) some years back, […] we used to store green beans here,” Zo of SGD Coffee said. Then, while doing their pop-up coffee shop at Greenfield District in Mandaluyong, they transformed the bodega into a perfect coffee place!
SGD Coffee roasts their own coffee beans from Sagada, Philippines, and they are working together with Goad Sibayan to produce their award-winning coffee. One of their advocacies is to push for better Philippine coffee by working with the farmers, focusing on developing environmentally-sustainable and socially-responsible approaches to coffee farming, through their Coffee Heritage Project.
Some of their coffee offerings are SGD Black, SGD Cold, their “Inadobo sa Kape,” a big slab of meat marinated in coffee sauce, and of course, their lovely espresso.
Less than one kilometer from SGD Bodega, MA+D Manila was our third stop for the day. Located at Matahimik Street, the area that surrounds this coffee shop is, well… quiet. An eye-catching hippie red van, decorated with graffiti, is permanently parked in front.
Our time with MA+D started with an introduction from one of its founders, Abbi Cabanding, who shed a light on what the acronym stands for — Make, Advocate, and Delight. More than a coffee shop, MA+D is a social enterprise that advocates for Philippine coffee, the local communities that grow the beans, and the arts. Though they serve all kinds of single origin coffees from different parts of the Philippines, what they are really working hard to promote is the locally-grown Robusta, which they brewed in different ways — via Aeropress, Flair (a manual espresso machine), and cezve (a small, long-handled pot used for making Turkish coffee) — for us to sample. I was surprised at the range of flavors they extracted from the Robusta! It was a revelation to me. However, by the end of the afternoon, the coffee I couldn’t get enough of was their Excelsa from Batangas which was strongly reminiscent of turon because of jackfruit notes and arnibal sweetness.
MA+D Manila is also home to Marika, the first runner-up in the 2018 Philippine Aeropress Championship. During our stay, she brewed for us her winning recipe using beans from Benguet in place of the Colombia which she used in the actual competition.
Maginhawa has always been one of the top go-to places for food crawls and café hopping in Metro Manila. The number of restaurants has overwhelmingly increased over the past years but there are still hidden gems waiting to be discovered around the area.
Driftwood Coffee, tucked in a little alley along Maginhawa Street, is one of those cafés that gives you a relaxing, homey ambiance especially with all the wooden furniture made by Michael (one of the owners) himself.
They served us an Espresso Tonic first. It was refreshing, and the tonic water really highlighted the notes from the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe beans. Next, we tried out their Mocha – they use Malagos chocolate which makes it rich and not overly sweet.
Choosing from their display of freshly-baked bread and pastries was not an easy decision as everything looked delicious, but we all agreed to try out their babka and croissant which were both heavenly! Aside from having great coffee, yummy bread and Instagrammable interiors being the reasons for you to visit them, they also hold open mics and workshops.
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