If you’re looking for a space that allows creation of ideas, freedom of expression, triggers inspiration, and, ultimately, allows you to pursue your life passions, look no further than Cafe Laya. It’s a coffee shop cum art gallery located in EGI Taft Tower at Malate, Manila, next to DLSU.
The cafe is a collaboration among friends who share one vision: supporting homegrown passion and giving back to the community. What makes it different than other coffee shops? Everything in the cafe is local – from the walls, the food, and the furniture because the owners believed in supporting fellow Filipinos’ businesses.
The walls at Cafe Laya are filled with various masterpieces of local artists. Each is featured for a period of six to eight weeks and every time it changes, there is a theme surrounding the artworks. For this set, the theme centers around freedom. The owners made use of social media to invite different Filipino artists to submit their work and be featured inside the cafe.
Love what you see? Some of the artworks are for sale and can be taken home. Or are you feeling artistic yourself? Cafe Laya also encourages their guests to also create their own artwork that can be displayed on the freedom walls.
Love at first sip and bite
The cafe also serves beverages and food that’s made from local ingredients and homemade sauces. The coffee beans are 100% Arabica from Benguet Province which is used as the base for hot and cold, classic, and exciting mixes such as the Salted Caramel Latte and Mocha, Dark Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, and more.
I ordered Mango graham milkshake while Ryan helped himself to a salted caramel latte. It’s best paired with the yema cheesecake pictured below. Yema is sweet by nature and combined with the cheesecake it balances the flavor.
This is the bacon and keso de bola sandwich served with kamote chips. I thought its saltiness was just right and not overpowering to the taste buds.
This is the adobo slider sandwich. The saltiness of its adobo flakes was complimented by the tomato and pesto ingredients also included in the sandwich.
We also ordered the creamy carbonara. I like that the pasta was al dente (firm) and the garlic bread was soft and chewy. As for the in house white sauce, I thought it was very creamy.
Ryan’s a real dessert lover so aside from the yema cheesecake, we also ordered the chocnut cake. It’s not the first chocnut cake we ever tasted, but it certainly was different from the others we’ve tasted before. You can really taste the chocnut flavor of this cake and it guises its flavors in its modest form. This chocnut cake is best paired with the chocnut drink for a richer flavor.
Cafe Laya also carries products from social enterprises such as First Harvest Peanut Spread made by Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm; Bayani Brew, the all-Filipino iced tea; and Theo and Philo, the first bean to bar artisan chocolate from the Philippines.
Aside from the artworks, the artisan products on offer in the counter and the furniture by local craftsmen can also be taken home. They have furnitures such as iconic caged lights, chairs and tables by Silya, Eletrika, atbp, a group of artists that use reclaimed and repurposed treated wood and steel to masterfully create one-of-a-kind art pieces. Even the floor poufs covers on their mezzanine are produced locally, by ANTHILL, a cultural and social enterprise that gives Filipino weaving communities the chance to preserve and promote fabric traditions through giving them a contemporary feel and making them accessible to all. Cafe Laya also features other standout pieces from Archinections, Junk Not!, recycled steel drums and small local furniture stores.
As I mentioned earlier, Cafe Laya is a place where one can freely pursue his/her creative passions. Every Saturday, this coffee shop allows its guests to learn something new through hosting regular passion workshops. If you get to complete five out of nine consecutive sessions, you can attend a free one for you and a friend who also has to commit to finishing another five workshops. The workshops are called #PassionItForward because it’s a cycle of discovering and sharing.
Write, draw and color the blank canvas at Cafe Laya. Speaking of your not-so-typical coffee shop, you can also check out Press Cafe, hidden inside a bookstore that serves delicious food and beverages too.
EGI Taft Tower, Malate, Manila
10:00am – 11:00 pm (Mondays t0 Saturdays)
02 – 554 55 34