The smell of homemade waffle batter and coffee beans perfume the air, a wonderful aroma that reminds me of breakfasts on Sunday morning. In White Camp Coffee & Kitchen, sunlight streams in through glass windows and everything is bright. Welcome to your friendly neighbourhood cafe.
Bright, white interiors
The term “third-wave coffee” came up a lot in my conversation with Diane Gollon, one of White Camp Coffee’s co-owners. Behind her, her brother Ray busies himself with the coffee machine and the cash register. It is a familial dynamic, one that warms my heart especially as I think of this place as a family business. It’s not really, but the warm atmosphere may lead you to think of it that way.
Behind Diane, and scattered across shelves around room, are bags of coffee beans. They come in different shapes and sizes and from varying countries and continents. The latest addition is from Dubai: packaged in a tin can with golden swirls, it stands proudly next to beans sourced New Zealand and Kenya.
Of course, I know nothing about this. I am not a coffee connoisseur and in the same way that wine daunts me, coffee does, as well. I apologize for not being cultured enough to know the difference between arabica and robusta, but all the same, I need my cup of joe to go with my scrambled eggs and rice. This is why I find it so refreshing to be here right now – in a cafe that, quite simply, wants to serve me good coffee.
Top off the morning with a great cup of joe.
Even though it’s lunchtime and White Camp is quite obviously a breakfast place, I don’t mind. There are no pretenses here anyway – just good food and good waffles. That’s one of the cafe’s main goals, I believe: to allow your palate to travel the world, but comfortably. It is camping done right, but with food. You travel around, you explore new things, but you always settle down on a comfortable patch of grass and take in the goodness of sensations.
The first thing we are presented with is two glasses of coffee: one hot and one cold. It’s 39 degrees outside, but I don’t mind the warm cup of brew. Its latte art just serves to make me smile. Nothing is more essential than coffee during breakfast. Served on a turquoise cup, the milky white hearts float atop liquid caramel and all I want to do is sip this slowly with a good book between my fingers.
Catch me sipping this brew in this 39-degree weather. Hot latte at Php140.
Iced latte at Php150. Perfect for this Manila heat!
After that comes a huge plate of s’mores waffles. It is a chocolate waffle drizzled with chocolate syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. On top of it all are three sticks of perfectly toasted marshmallows. Everything keeps with the theme, of course, and I end up wanting s’more s’mores.
I vaguely remember a friend of mine who grew up in Colorado telling me that camping was one of the best things in life. I wouldn’t know; I’m more of a city girl myself. But I imagine that s’mores are part of the reason why camping is so great. Similarly, s’mores are part of the reason why White Camp Coffee is so great. One of their bestsellers, these things are perfect around a campfire (which I didn’t have) and shared with a great friend (which I did).
Campfire dream for Php210
Our next course was the bacon bagnet. You gotta love whoever invented this recipe, and I mean really thank them. It’s sinful, no doubt; but that’s what makes it such great comfort food. Deep-fried crunchy bacon placed atop a bed of fluffy garlic rice. Mix it all in with their sides of onions and tomatoes… are you salivating yet? You know it’s going to be a great morning when you wake up to the smell of bacon in a deep fryer.
The fluffy, garlicky yin to the bacon’s crispy yang. There’s nothing at all like a balanced meal.
White Camp Coffee is a cafe after my own heart. You know why? Because they know that the secret to happiness is in serving up some dessert. Today, it just so happens to be New York Cheesecake, the very same one I’d been eyeing on their counter after I’d walked through their door. It is rich and smooth, and every bit as delicious and cinnamon-y as I’d imagined. It is a wonderful end to my meal.
BRB, craving for this Php150 goodness.
Although White Camp is only four months old, it shows promise. You see it in their steady stream of customers, some of whom have already become regulars. You see it in their dedication to coffee, their passion for food, and their overall enthusiasm to see their customers really enjoy a great cup of joe. (Wait a couple of weeks for the latest delights to be added to their menu: sriracha corned beef and caramelized Spam and bubble waffles you don’t have to fly all the way to Hong Kong for.)
In the end, White Camp Coffee proves to be more than just another eatery along Sgt. Esguerra: it is a dream come true, a passion well-executed, a friendly home away from home. It is your friendly neighbourhood cafe.
White Camp Coffee & Kitchen