I have been a coffee enthusiast for the longest time. It became more frequent when I started working in the BPO industry. There were times that I had to stay up when the rest of the world is asleep. This type of work shift eventually took a toll on me. It started with a small cup of an original blend of Nescafe. And now, I can’t count in both hands how may coffee brands and shops have I tasted. It got to the extent that coffee itself doesn’t work for me anymore to stay awake. Well, this was the beginning of a never-ending coffee shop journey.
Being addicted to coffee was quite inevitable back then. In return, my taste palette became a bit cautious about the different types and brands of coffee. Not only that, by visiting different coffee shops made my hobby of observing people more active. I love sitting in a corner and quietly observing people’s behaviour. It amuses me how everyone acts and communicate with each other. It gets me to study human behaviour in an extensive way. Ok, I think that already may creep you out. So going back to coffee shops, in this article, I’ll describe how I see the environment on the top nearby coffee shops I visited here and abroad.
Disclaimer: The following descriptions below are all based on my own opinion and observation. This is not to defame nor endorse any brands or company. This blog is written out of a witty discussion with friends who keep asking me about different coffee shops I visit and what I like and dislike about them.
Of course, I will make this number one on my list to discuss considering this is the most famous here in the Philippines. If you look at it, it’s always crowded. Especially if it’s near a call centre building during night time. It’s pretty much self-explanatory why. At first, it may look like it’s only for the elites and it has that “socialite” rich environment feel. However, in my point of view, it has become more of for a commoner’s venue or what they call “pang-masa”. Some may not agree with me on this considering the cost of each drink. Not to mention it increase the price every year as well.
The main reason why I said that is because of the fact that it’s always crowded nowadays. One reason probably is because they can get free WIFI access here. It’s human nature to gather or stay in a place where they can get something for free right? If you see people there, most of them are just hogging the free wifi and just socializing. Not to mention the endless boasting in social media, posting selfies and/or with their drinks. Making sure that the mermaid logo is clear. That I may say is the sad side of the situation. However, what I like with Starbucks is it’s staff mostly. I’ve always liked how they communicate with their customers even just a small pep talk can make a difference.
Most of the time, when you’re exhausted and want to cool down a little, a small boost of a cold drink would be perfect. Then comes the greeting from the barista and asking you – “How are you today?”. Even it’s just a small and simple question, there are times that it can give a huge difference to one person. On my case, it makes me smile because even if I do not know the person and it may be asked due to his or her duty as a staff, it somewhat makes me happy that at least someone asked me. Unfortunately, it is a rare case now for people, especially those who are close to you to ask this question. The environment here gives a warm feel because of how the staff provide those “happy” hormones with a boost whenever I chug a cup.
In relation to it’s drinks, Starbucks for me has the sweetest tasting blends. Unless you custom your drink to have more shots or buy a bitter blend such as Americano, then you would surely enjoy this if you’re a sweet tooth. Maybe because I’ve been used to its drinks that I end up customizing mine every time I come here except when they have a new blend on the menu. I’d probably recommend the following customed drinks below for you to try out.
- White Mocha Frappuccino Affogato style with Hazelnut or Toffee nut syrup Blended whip (my custom blend)
- Basic Black tea with Strawberry Syrup.
- Cascara Macchiato
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
This coffee shop has been quite a competitor of Starbucks for the past time here in Asia. The first time I ever went and ate here was in Malaysia. Yes, I’ve never tried this before I went there. I went to dine breakfast there in the Mid Valley Mall branch because it was closest to my hotel. It was also embarrassing for me back then because the service was totally different in comparison here in the Philippines. Here we go to the cashier and order our drinks. We wait for it in the bar area and probably sit while waiting. Unlike when I dinned in Malaysia, it was really like a restaurant. They give you the menu while you sit and wait for your order. It gets served to you similar to a fine dining restaurant. It was a funny but embarrassing situation for me though. However, the environment was totally different than other coffee shops. After that, I started going to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf more often, especially when it opened a branch near where I live.
Unlike Starbucks, the staff here aren’t as gullible. Although they are very polite and very friendly towards their customers, it doesn’t have that magic that you can get from Starbucks staff. However, what I like in CBTL is its coffee blend. It’s not too sweet nor not too bitter. It’s perfect for my taste palette. I related to that, the taste of its drinks are somewhat tasting much more of a roasted coffee bean rather than a those of other coffee shops I’ve been to. It gives that authentic coffee bean blend which is rich and pure.
These kinds of blends are what I like the most. Not only that I know it’s a pure grind but also it has a strong flavour to it which helps me calm down and relax. I love all the drinks they serve on their menu. Also, I loved the fact that they made the WiFi access exclusive to its community club members. This prevents people who only go there for the free WiFi and don’t order anything. This is more practical in a sense and it gives way to real paying customers a decent place and seat to stay.
Having this said, this gives the cafe a bit of “elite” mood for some. People think it’s too expensive and only rich people come. On the contrary, for me, this is a nice place to stay when you need to have peace and quiet. It may be inevitable to have a few groups of people making noise but in comparison to other shops, it’s much more peaceful. For me, I like to stay in a place where I can quietly sit and mind my own business. The most common drinks I would probably recommend this shop would be:
- Coconut Matcha Latte
- Morrocan Mint Tea
- Caramel Macchiato
The most prominent feature you would see in this place is the ambience. Once you walk in their stores the place is totally different from other coffee shops I have visited. It looked so earthy and you could use every corner of this place for Instagram poses. It’s undeniably attractive to the eyes. The staff feels warm as well when your speaking with them and gives you a warm smile.
Coffee Project gives a sense of peace with a very light feeling. Contrary to CBTL, it would not give you a serious vibe. This gives you a playful thought most probably due to the designs and furniture of the cafe. It may not be as crowded as Starbucks but as I said, it’s decent enough to have a good meet up with a few friends with a delightful vibe.
The cost of the drinks aren’t as expensive as the first two shops, but it is not as low cost as the next two shops I will be featuring. In comparison again with the first two, this shop has more food and pastries to offer. Their menus do not concentrate on drinks alone. So if you feel to chill out with an empty stomach, this place will certainly fill your needs. In all honesty, I have not tried their tea drinks here so the recommended blends below will all be coffee and chocolate blends.
- Vietnamese Latte
- Vanilla Macadamia Frappe
I am not a sweet tooth. Pastries and baked goods aren’t really my thing. I may be a plus sized girl but I certainly ain’t addicted to chocolates. Yes, it’s very ironic, isn’t it? It does not mean that I hate it either. I can tolerate as much as I can but I am used to taking such food in a very minimal amount. Generally speaking, there are a lot of different reasons why people get fat, which I would be discussing in a different article though.
The reason why I mentioned that is because, for a doughnut shop, J.Co Doughnuts produce doughnuts that aren’t too sweet nor too strong in taste. Unlike the most common doughnut shops and stalls, the doughnuts here are just right to my taste. Yes, I know we’re talking about coffee shops here, but bear with me a little. We’ll get there soon.
The coffee and other drinks here are just right for the taste as well. However, their “hot” blends are not that so hot when served. Maybe I got used to other coffee shops that serve smoking hot coffee and teas. The brighter side of this though is you can finish your cup faster. Wait, isn’t that a way to avoid camping customers? I mean if you get to finish your cup early, your notion is you would leave early. Hmm, interesting thought…
Anyway, I find this shop very accessible to everyone. The cost of the drinks are not too expensive and they have a decent ambience. It may seem similar to CBTL but I find J.Co’s types of furniture more comfortable than CBTL. Although, because of this though, there seem to be more people who come here. It seems it’s a similar feel with Starbucks. It’s one of the “pang-masa” types of coffee shops in my opinion. This is a good thing for the business since it’s going to give them more sales. Not to mention the once in a while doughnut sales.
When it comes to their blends, I find them quite unique, especially their cold drinks. They may look the same even some of the names are not that unique to hear but upon tasting it surely will leave you with a distinctive reaction. I do not say that they have the best blends nor do I say they have the worse. I just find them significantly different which makes your taste buds feel sober from the usual caffeine intake. If I have to recommend, it would be the following drinks which I often match up with their Original Glaze, Salami sandwich or Al Capone.
- Jcoccino (both iced or hot)
- Any of their Affogato Series
There are still a lot of new and old coffee shops around us and we all have that favourite of ours. I am not an expert when it comes to coffee and tea but I can sure say I’m an enthusiast. Most of the time the blends I take are those that are quite strong and bitter. Mainly because if the drink is sweet, I’d feel sleepy.
Coffee was like blood to me when I was in the call centre industry. Especially, if I had a night or double shift. It is very difficult to stay up at night since we were never created that way. We are supposed to be sleeping during the night. However, there are times that the coffee we drink taste all the same for us. No matter how strong or sweet the blend is. What gives us a sense of loyalty to these shops is what can linger to us in the end. It may be the ambience or the staff.
There are more notable Cafes and coffee shops I visited before while travelling that you may want to try yourself.
- Cafe by the Ruins Baguio
- Gloria Jean’s Coffee
- Seattle’s Best
- Tiong Bahru Bakery Singapore
- Bag of Beans Tagaytay
In every travel I do, I tend to find a unique cafe I can try and visit. Sometimes due to inevitable circumstances, I fail to do so. Every one of us has a nice small outside haven we enjoy. I guess for me it’s coffee shops. Not only due to the ambience but the aroma of the coffee as well as stimulates my brain. There are times that I go in a slump and get a writer’s block. I tend to try visiting one of the shops I mentioned above to get a headstart. It can be troublesome for people to do so, but I guess that’s just being me.
Probably next time, I’ll go feature teas. What do you think? Comment below or visit my Facebook or Instagram and let me know your thoughts. You can also do a quick message to me here on my blog site. Till then, this Ambivert Wallflower will be roaming around for more shops.