Cool Cafes in Manila | Cafe UK
Forget about the usual Starbucks or Coffeebean because there are more cool cafes in Manila than you probably know it.
I am a confessed coffeeholic & watching the world go by in coffee shops is what I call sensational. There’s just something about the crisp aroma of roasted coffeebeans & the hushed tête-à-têtes that perks me up.
Around the University Belt, Café UK tops my list of cool cafes in Manila.
A good coffee shop is one thing you won’t expect to find in a terribly frenzied place like the UBelt. At first impressions, our image of an ambient spot just don’t feel right to be in a location muddling in chaos.
But just when I thought that this place is sadly beyond redemption, I found Café UK.
Seek & You Shall Find
It has been a couple of years now from the time when I left my corporate job. Since then, I have also moved away from the glitzy side of the metro & started to root myself around the University Belt.
One of the things that made me anxious in relocating here was finding a brewing spot that would serve my caffeine fixes & at the same time as out-of-home working station.
I felt there should be a Starbucks store somewhere, somehow. But I am not really drawn to it because I prefer local independent cafes that steam of more character & friendly next-door-neighbor service.
But will I find this in UBelt? In a district that is dominated by students whose budgets may not even be enough for a cup?
All of my prejudices proved me wrong. After a few months of scouring through the area, I found Café UK.
Not Just 1 but 3
Café UK is an English-themed café located in Mendiola, P. Noval & Dapitan. It brings the coffee culture to the student market & right within the heart of the University Belt.
Its Mendiola store mainly captures students from CEU, San Beda, La Consolacion College, San Sebastian & the College of the Holy Spirit. Just minutes away from Legarda LRT Station, Café UK is the best spot you can find in this side of town.
Being just within the western perimeter of the University of Santo Tomas, is its P. Noval branch. By default, it attracts the students right across it. But some come all the way from FEU that stands just a few blocks away.
Students from the Religious of Mary Immaculate, Perpetual Help College & St. Jude on the other side, hangout at its Dapitan brewing station that’s just around the bend of UST Hospital.
Standing Out in the Crowd
So how does Café UK stand out in an area where coffeeshops & restaurants stand in cheek-by-jowl with each other?
They studied their market very well!
Since it’s student-centric, they created spaces where their customers can enjoy their coffee, dine & study at the same time. Delightfully, some tables are installed with built-in iPads free for use.
They also provide drafting tables for those working on space-hogging plates. Here, there’s no tripping over messy extension wires because electrical outlets are well circuited in almost all tables. And yes, WIFI is free!
Many cool cafes in Manila may have thought about fancy themes but largely never really understood what else that their customers need. Café UK just does it so right.
Quality, Service & Price
The truth is, Café UK isn’t as cheap as you think just because they cater mainly to students. In fact, coffee starts at P110 & no food go below P120.
But they serve good coffee & that’s what matters most. Whether you like it vacuum-brewed, sure-slug espresso, decaffeinated, on ice or blended, there’s just too many wonderful choices on its classic set.
But if you like tea-based drinks, wait ‘til your barista, who comes by the way in plaid skirts, whip you up with some kick-ass TEAsing.
No one goes hungry here. From pasta & tacos to cutesy cakes, they’ll surely fill you up to the brim. My favorite is the Jalapeno Poppers—it’s a bombshell!
Now you see why they don’t want to compromise quality over price?
It’s Not Cool, I Lied.
It’s the coolest, actually, at least in this side of the capital city.
Do you ever get that experience in other coffeeshops where the staff hovers at you all the time when they feel you’ve been there for quite a while?
Or you get all those reasons when you ask for an extension wire or the WIFI password?
As a freelance writer, sitting for hours & zoned-in on my laptop is not a problem. It’s my office & as long as I order enough for my length of stay (most of the time, about 8 hours), I am good in my spot.
Quick turn-around of tables may be a concern, but Café UK has already factored-in this thing in your tab. They know you’d linger for a while. Besides, there’s just so many delicious temptations around that will surely make you want for more.
Café UK is usually packed especially during exam seasons but if you call-in ahead of time for a reservation, finding a spot is never complicated.
This “coffee-coffee” thing is a phenomenon & comes with it is a bigger demand for value-added services to cater to the modern customer. It calls for exciting themes, fair price & value, excellent service & yes, all those little extras that could sum up to a good experience.
Coffeeshops have already gone beyond just a place for coffee & a chat. It has become a convergence zone for new-age patrons with other desires attuned to mixing leisure with work.
There are many cool cafes in Manila. And in UBelt, Café UK is definitely the best one you could find around. So if you ever wonder where else I write my blogs aside from paradise islands, well, I just script them in Mendiola.