The Philippines

Four Places for Great Coffee in Manila

A GUIDE TO CAFES IN MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES

Planning a two day stop over in Manila, The Philippines from Sai Gon en route to Taipei was less about an eagerness to visit Manila, and more about a cheap flight.

Everyone I knew who had been to Manila, and just about everything I read advised against spending more than one day there.

I decided to do two full days with the intent of sightseeing on the first day, and then catching up on work the second day.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do much catching up as the wifi was pretty terrible throughout Manila.

To make matters more frustrating, most cafes in Manila don’t offer free wifi. Of the cafes I visited, only one boasted working wifi.

And, with the traffic situation in Manila being on par with what I experienced in Bangkok, it took forever to get from place to place.

When all was said and done, my time in Manila wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped it’d be, but I did have a good time seeing another a new-to-me city, and checking out a few local cafes.

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A Guide to Cafes in Manila

If you find yourself in Manila and are craving a good cup of coffee, head to any of these four cafes for your caffeine fix. 

Toby’s Estate: With a few locations in Manila, Toby’s was a name I was instantly familiar with from my time living in New York. An Aussie operation, Toby’s does great flat whites and avo toast. The location in Makati is beautiful, a great place to relax and enjoy breakfast as you plan your day. Look up anything you need to in advance though, Toby’s does not offer free wifi.

Wildflour: Smack dab next to Toby’s in Makati, with another location in the heart of the business hub in the city, Wildflour is an excellent cafe. Their flat whites rival Toby’s, but the brunch is the real show stopper here. I treated myself to fluffy, banana ricotta pancakes on the morning I had breakfast here, and can happily confirm they’re some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. The rest of the menu looked good, but be warned- it’s upmarket pricing, which is only slightly below New York City prices.

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Habitual Coffee: My favourite cafe discovery in Manila- quiet, minimalistic and strong wifi. My coconut latte was refreshing, but not too sweet. Not as busy as other cafes I visited, Habitual’s crowd was composed of a few people working on laptops, and a few others holding low conversations. Its location may not be the most convenient, depending on where you’re staying in Manila, but that’s the beauty of ride share apps, like Grab.

Curate Coffee: I had high hopes for Curate, but on the day I visited, half of the cafe was closed for a photo shoot. I found myself wishing they’d just closed the entire cafe, as it was too hectic and loud to even think about working. Fortunately, the staff realised the environment wasn’t great and offered to comp my coffee mocktail (espresso, cold brew, coconut water) when I asked for the bill shortly after receiving my drink.

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As good as my intentions may have been to catch up on work, I quickly realised Manila was not the city for ‘working from cafe’ vibes. I hope to be back in the Philippines one day to travel the smaller islands, but now I know I should go there with the expectation of having limited, if any, access to internet.

Really, if you’re heading to the Philippines for holiday, you don’t need wifi. Chances are you’re there for the natural beauty of these stunning islands.

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Have you ever been to cafes in Manila? Are there ones you’d recommend to first time visitors? 

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