Forget Makati and BGC, Manila is clearly having its moment. While Manila has been (and is still) riddled with its red light district and urban chaos, there’s a growing scene in the area, with the rise of independent businesses and startups that are bringing back the city’s soul.
One of these establishments is Blocleaf Café, a third wave coffee shop serving up local specialty coffee from Kalsada Coffee, sourced from regions such as Benguet and Sagada. Blocleaf is a wonderful addition to the growing number of creative establishments in the area, and to be honest, it looks like a dream to any Instagrammer looking to spruce up their feed.
Located within Hop Inn’s compound, Blocleaf is a charming, intimate space that immediately invites you in with its glass panels that allow you to see the activity indoors. Full of natural light, its design is beautifully minimalist, made cozier by the green plants and light wood from its furniture.
Blocleaf is the brainchild of Reymart Cerin, Vince Africa, Berylle Hong, and Bea Jalbuena. Reymart and Vince, in particular, are graphic designers behind the creative studio The Public School Manila in Escolta, who got into third wave coffee. The name Blocleaf is taken from “wood blocks” and “leaves”, representative of the duo’s aesthetic and is clearly seen in the space.
According to Reymart, Blocleaf was originally meant to be a design and furniture studio, that ended up becoming a coffee shop along the way. Now, it’s a neighborhood café that services an eclectic mix of customers: medical students looking for an ambient space, specialty coffee purveyors, as well as tourists and expats that learn about Philippine coffee through them.
For what it’s worth, Blocleaf serves up great coffee, as well as a well-thought-of menu that provides for interesting concoctions, filling sandwiches and pasta dishes, and desserts that hit the right spot. Here are just some of the dishes we tried:
Blocleaf’s specialty drink, it’s a wonderful mix of local ingredients such as their Benguet espresso and local tablea. It’s not as sweet as a drink as you would expect in other establishments, so those used to the more commercial kind may be taken aback. Yet if you like drinks where the real flavors shine through, this would be right up your alley.
Dirty Matcha Latte
This latte is a mix of matcha and espresso, with the matcha providing a subtle, to the espresso.
Chai Tea Latte
What’s nice about this chai latte is that the drink wasn’t overtly sweet. Real chai leaves were brewed instead of using concentrate, providing for a fuller flavor.
Thai Tea Latte
Having been a fan of cha nom yen during my visit to Bangkok, I was pleasantly surprised with Blocleaf’s take on the drink.
Eggplant Parmigiana in Brioche
The brioche bun’s buttery taste complemented the parmigiana well, adding a subtle richness to the tangy tomato sauce.
The longganisa in this pasta dish was a great blend of sweet and smoky.
This was a well-balanced dish, with the tangy and salty flavors blending together beautifully.
The cakes and pastries at Blocleaf are all freshly baked and homemade by a friend. From different kinds of cakes such as ube cheesecake, carrot cake, and Chocnut cake to cookies, these sweets are a definite must-try at Blocleaf.
Visit Blocleaf Café at Hop Inn, 1850 M. H. Del Pilar St, Malate, Manila.
1850 M. H. Del Pilar St, Malate, Manila