If you’re a coffee lover, definitely make a beeline for Metro Manila. The Philippines’ capital region has quite the burgeoning coffee scene, after all. From hipster coffee shops to trendy multi-concept stores, the best cafes in Manila always manage to impress even the most discerning tastes. But wait — what if you’re not into coffee? Fret not because there’s definitely something for everyone.
Beyond third-wave coffee shops, there’s also a handful of Manila cafes that cater to those who prefer pastries, desserts, milk tea, and more. So, we’ve come up with a list of the best cafes in Manila that you should check out on your next visit. All of these offer cosy ambiences, #aesthetic interiors, and of course, excellent menu offerings that’ll leave you wanting more!
Coffee shops in Metro Manila with interesting concepts
1. The Curator
Speakeasies are nothing new, but how about one that’s a speciality coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar at night? Now that’s something you wouldn’t find often. If The Curator sounds familiar to you, that’s because it has been on Asia’s 50 Best Bars consistently since 2016! You’ll find this in the backroom of Cyrano Wine Shop in Legaspi Village, Makati. Though, if you prefer a better-lit space, you can either opt for its outer area or head over to the park across the street!
Pro tip: You can have your drink (whether coffee or cocktail) customised by their world-class baristas.
2. The Coffee Academics
Also within Legaspi Village is The Coffee Academics, a speciality coffee shop from Hong Kong that serves creative drinks made with locally roasted beans. The brand has received numerous awards since 2012, when it first emerged. Their cafe in Manila upholds the same menu standard as their OG branch. What’s more, it features a laid back, rustic ambience — highlighted by soothing shades of tan, brown, and grey — that makes it an ideal hangout spot on any day of the week.
P.S. — They also have a kiosk at High Street South Corporate Plaza in Bonifacio Global City that offers free parking.
3. EDSA Beverage Design Group
Ask any third wave coffee lover in Metro Manila about EDSA Beverage Design Group, and they’ll probably say that it’s one of the pioneers of speciality coffee here. You’ll find it in a nondescript building literally along EDSA (yes, that traffic-prone highway that locals have a love-hate relationship with). So, it’s definitely not like other Manila cafes, which are often housed in malls or less noisy streets! This spacious complex houses the coffee bar, roasting laboratory, and the brand HQ.
Fun fact: Some of the owners are also the same peeps behind The Curator!
4. Caravan Black
Situated on the ground floor of a corporate building in Bonifacio Global City, you’re likely to find a lot of white-collar employees getting their caffeine fix at Caravan Black. Its interiors have this ‘modern Art Deco with a hint of surrealist’ style. The best way I can explain this is: it’s like a 16th-century explorer, a Jazz Age fan, and a René Magritte patron decided to do a collab. Anyway, this cafe in Manila derives its name from the caravans used to transport coffee beans across continents centuries ago!
5. Three Squares Cafe + Bar at Design Story
Three Squares Cafe + Bar is located inside the gallery-like furniture shop Design Story, which you’ll find at The Alley at Karrivin Plaza: an arts hub in the quieter part of Makati. Every corner in this showroom-slash-cafe-slash-bar is absolutely Instagrammable, so no need to look for the right spot just to get that perfect shot! BTW — most of the lovely items here are for sale; from the mid-century desks and sleek Scandinavian-style chairs, to the artsy lamps and chic vases.
6. The Den
In the historic district of Binondo in the city of Manila, there’s a speciality coffee shop that doubles as an artists’ space: The Den. Once in a while, it also serves as a venue for exhibits, workshops, and other events that focus on local contemporary culture; from music and visual arts to history-centric tours. Clearly, if there was one cafe in Manila that fully encapsulates the city’s creative millennial spirit, then this is definitely it!
Oh, and it’s also located in a nearly-hundred-year-old Art Deco building along Escolta Street: the country’s former financial hub from the Spanish Era up until the 1950s. How cool is that? Nowadays, the area is home to a slew of indie stores and studios — most of which are run by entrepreneurial creatives, too.
7. Exchange Alley Coffee House
In the southern part of the Metro lies Exchange Alley Coffee House, named after the historic street in London that’s known for centuries-old cafes and taverns. Fondly nicknamed EACH by patrons, it’s become quite the crowd favourite in Alabang district. Industrial interiors and floor-to-ceiling windows make it conducive to getting work done, while the second floor also serves as their roastery for locally sourced beans.
Best cafes in Manila for brunch and pastries
8. Bake House
Bake House is a vibrantly designed cafe inside the ritzy Shangri-La at the Fort, yet its menu offerings are actually not as expensive as you’d expect. The interiors showcase rustic colours mixed with industrial and Art Deco elements. Sort of like a setting in a whimsical rom-com movie, if you’d ask us! In a way, it offsets the sophisticated array of French pastries lined up at the counter; a perfect balance between upscale and cosily welcoming.
Pro tip: They have the best flat white in town! Yes, even if you’d compare it to foreign coffee shops that are also found in the area (more on that later).
9. Wildflour Café + Bakery
Looking for the best cafes in Manila with both great food and drinks? Head over to Wildflour Café + Bakery, which many locals consider as the quintessential brunch spot! The dishes come at a rather hefty price, but the (relatively) cheap yet delicious coffee more than makes up for it. Their cronuts are definitely a must-try, if only for the fact that it was Wildflour that introduced this to the local scene.
It has several locations, with slightly varying concepts, around the Metro. Though, if you had to pick just one, we recommend their flagship store in Bonifacio Global City. It has an adjacent ice cream parlour where you can satisfy your sweet tooth after that hearty brunch!
10. Poison Coffee & Doughnuts
Craving yummy doughnuts to go with your cuppa? Skip the usual Krispy Kreme and try out the homegrown Poison Coffee & Doughnuts instead! Unlike most Manila cafes that are brightly lit, this one looks straight out of a sci-fi anime with its neon lights and seemingly ‘menacing’ signs. The doughnuts are a must-try, with unique flavours like garam masala and egg custard brûlée!
You’ll find this at the burgeoning creative enclave that is The Alley at Karrivin Plaza. This former warehouse also houses art galleries and boutiques that you can visit after getting your caffeine + pastry fix.
11. Toby’s Estate
Toby’s Estate is known as one of the leading coffee chains in Australia. So, it’s no surprise that its Philippine stores easily became one of the best cafes in Manila. As of writing, it has a total of 11 locations; some serve only coffee and pastries, while others offer scrumptious food, too! You’ll find most of ‘em in malls and business districts, but if you prefer someplace less crowded, head over to the one in Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati. It’s situated behind an events space and also serves as the commissary.
Note: The lot of this specific branch is right beside the compound where Poison Coffee & Doughnuts is. Hey, a little cafe-hopping never hurt anyone!
Unless you frequent the Temple Drive area in Quezon City, it’s quite likely that you wouldn’t even notice Apero. Despite being somewhat underrated, it’s clearly one of the best cafes in Manila that boast aesthetically pleasing design and top-notch brunch staples. Take in the part-tropical, part-Art Deco interiors while munching on savoury tartine, freshly baked pastries, hefty rice bowls… or all of the above! Don’t forget to pair these with something from their extensive coffee menu.
Pro tip: This is also where you can have your dose of coffee from Intelligentsia — A.K.A. one of the OG third wave coffee companies — which isn’t really easy to come by around Metro Manila!
13. Granville San Juan
Tucked away in the quiet Addition Hills neighbourhood, Granville San Juan looks like a hip coworking space that millennial aesthetic dreams are made of. This cafe in Manila boasts a warmly lit interior that’s spacious enough for a stadium-style communal area and many table options. Meanwhile, their outdoor area has garden lights that make it especially lovely at nighttime.
Take your pick among their wide selection of third wave coffee, hearty main dishes (think handmade pasta and ribeye steak), and decadent desserts. Oh, and did we mention that it’s also pet-friendly? Expect to meet some fur babies when you’re here. Or if you’re bringing your own, you can even order them a special drink!
14. Ça Va Crêperie & Floral Atelier
Decadent French-inspired dishes and marvellous flower arrangements? It’s easy to see why Ça Va Crêperie & Floral Atelier is among the best cafes in Manila. Most of the flowers and plants you’ll see aren’t the run-of-the-mill types, either. So, it’s almost like you’re dining at a secret garden — that just so happens to be within the bustling Ortigas district.
Manila cafes with outdoorsy settings
15. Kandle Cafe
Looking for a cafe on the northern side, for a change? Kandle Cafe is definitely the way to go! Apart from the top-notch comfort food and speciality coffee and tea, it also has what’s arguably the best al fresco area among Manila cafes. It is, after all, tucked away in a (relatively) quiet neighbourhood in Quezon City. Their lush garden offers a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of the Metro, which is honestly a rare find.
Oh, and they also have a nursery for blue butterfly pea flowers — picked fresh daily and added to select drinks and dishes! So, plant lovers: you might want to add this to your bucket list.
Among the best coffee shops in Manila, Papakape remains to be a hidden gem. Nestled in a laid back Makati neighbourhood, its name is derived from the Tagalog line, “papa-kape ako” (“I’ll be treating people to coffee”). The main attraction? A coffee bar inside a glass house that looks stunning no matter what time of the day!
The dining area is all al fresco, with lush greenery and blue walls that are a subtle nod to Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh. Combined with their unique roster of ginger-infused coffee and tea, you’re guaranteed to have a soothing time.
17. Brewed Specialty Coffee
When we talk about weekend lounging at a cafe, Brewed Specialty Coffee is certainly a good place to start. For one thing, it sets the mood for beachside relaxation amid the hustle and bustle of Pasig. Think earthy colours, tropical and rattan accents, and floor-to-ceiling windows allowing streams of natural light. Bonus points for the breezy terrace area, where you can enjoy your handcrafted beverage on a sunny day.
18. Flossom Kitchen + Cafe
Want more pretty, bloom-filled locations for your ‘Gram? Flossom Kitchen + Cafe in San Juan is one of the best cafes in Manila for that! As its name suggests, it’s filled with floral elements, making every corner a sight to behold (yep, even the ceiling). Just like the previous item, it’s also perf for an urban garden escape. And, of course, it goes beyond just aesthetics by adding edible flowers and/or floral patterns on their drinks and dishes, too!
19. La Cathedral Cafe
Stepping into La Cathedral Cafe feels like being transported to one of those rooftop restaurants in Europe with panoramas of nearby historic buildings. Situated beside the famous Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, it offers a one-of-a-kind view that makes it a great setting for both casual gatherings and romantic dates. We recommend coming here in time for sunset, just in time to see the capiz lanterns lit up and the sky changing in dazzling hues.
Pro tip: Make sure to reserve a table in advance if you’re planning to dine in from 3pm onwards!
Best cafes in Manila for dessert
20. Kiss The Tiramisu
You might have already heard of Kiss The Tiramisu. After all, it’s quite a popular dessert shop in South Korea — but did you know that there’s also one on Valero Street in Makati? Clearly, the main event is their tiramisu ice cream: a decadent combo of the staple Italian dessert and soft-serve ice cream! It’s served in shmancy-looking goblets that match the store’s elegant interiors. Though, you can also try their classic desserts, fruit tea, tiramisu-flavoured latte, and even a traditional Korean rice beverage called sikhye!
21. Flour Jar Manila
Admittedly, most dessert cafes in Manila and beyond tend to go for cutesy decor. So when we came across one with a boho-chic vibe, we couldn’t help but get curious. All the way down south in Las Piñas is Flour Jar Manila, which started as a home-based pastry supplier for other cafes in the Metro. Eventually, it became a well-loved neighbourhood bakery-slash-cafe that specialises in indulgent treats such as cookies, cakes, ice cream, doughnuts, and even smoothie bowls!
22. Black Scoop Cafe
One look at the menu, and you’ll see why Black Scoop Cafe is one of the best cafes in Manila for lovers of milk tea and other cold desserts. A definite must-try is their milk tea-flavoured soft-serve ice cream that actually has boba pearl toppings. A glorious match made in dessert heaven, if you’d ask us.
Always experimental and never boring, their unique drinks often incorporate nostalgic sweets like White Rabbit, Yakult, and Ovaltine — take note, ’90s kids! Fortunately, they have over 20 stores around the Metro, so there’s no excuse to not add this to your Manila cafes bucket list.
It’s no secret that the Philippines is well-known for its beaches and islands; most travellers make a beeline for these and skip a tour of the capital region. Yet these best cafes in Manila clearly show why you should stick around the Metro for a while. Whether it’s for a caffeine fix or satisfying your sweet tooth, there’s something for everyone indeed.
On the other hand, if you’re a local and you’ve already been to these Manila cafes, we’d love to hear about your visits there! As always, don’t be shy and share ahead in the comments.
This article was originally published on TripZilla.