Intramuros is a historical site known for their Spanish architecture and wealth of Philippine history. Beyond all that, though, lies a myriad of undiscovered restaurants and shops that is sure to excite every foodie out there.
Grace in a Cup is one of those hidden gems. Located behind Manila High School on the second floor, this milk tea shop is a place full of good vibes and positivity.
Grace in a Cup caters to students and office workers near the area. It’s a small place, which is why it easily gets filled up, especially on weekdays.
Grace in a Cup was first opened by Patricia Macapagal, an HRM graduate from the College of Saint Benilde. Their first branch was in Quezon City; and due to its success, they expanded to different places around Metro Manila. The Manila branch of Grace in a Cup was opened by young entrepreneurs JP Avelino and Judeiel Carpon last January 2018. While Judeiel is a licensed aircraft mechanic, he handles the marketing side of the business. JP, on the other hand, focuses on the business full-time by handling the operations.
Unlike the usual milk tea chains that focus on just promoting their drinks, their aim is to promote the essence of their products by sharing God’s word by adding bible verses with each cup. Even their staff is encouraged to interact and talk to their customers, giving them guidance and listening to their problems.
“People these days forget about God. We love Jesus and we want everyone to remember Him, which is why we did this,” shares Judeiel when asked about the significance of this gesture. “We want our customers to feel like they’re at home.”
And it works! Judeiel is proud to say that this makes customers comes back. The positive message is something they look forward to (aside from their food and drinks, of course).
All Grace in a Cup products come at student-friendly prices, too. Made with ingredients from Taiwan, their drinks – from their milk teas to their fruit juices and specialty drinks – are good quality alternatives that are able to compete with chain store variants. Another good thing about these drinks is that they can be personalized for any target market. You can customize your sugar level, milk and add-ons in case you’re diabetic, lactose-intolerant or health conscious.
We put Judeiel’s claim to the test to see if his offerings can actually rival the big names in the milk tea and food industry:
Grace in a Cup’s bestselling French Fries are lightly tossed with your choice of flavoring: tangy barbecue, salty cheese or creamy sour cream. I have to say these actually come close to the ones you’d find in Potato Corner, which is what Judeiel and JP were aiming for.
Unlike the knockoff cheese flavors that are more sweet than cheesy, theirs is actually on point: salty and delightfully bright orange—the kind that colors your fingers. The barbecue flavoring is tangy and slightly sweet— my favorite out of the three. As for their sour cream, it’s good as far as flavorings go. Now combine this with the crunchiness on the outside and the softness in the inside, and you’ve got a great snack to go with your drink!
This takes me back to my childhood snack of cheese sticks wrapped in lumpia wrapper before being deep-fried until they’re crunchy, so I have to say this really hits home down to the mayonnaise and ketchup dipping sauce. Grace in a Cup takes things to another level by topping it off with cheese powder—the same kind you’ll find in their fries.
Here’s another fried snack to add to the roster. These rolls feature large green chilis (without seeds) and a ground beef mixture wrapped and deep-fried in a lumpia wrapper. Our photographer Paolo describes it as meaty, crunchy and just a little spicy. Tone down the heat with their ketchup and mayonnaise dipping sauce, which is a great accessory to all of their snacks.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good piece of spam? Their version features a crisp shell that encases the soft and meaty spam. Salty and crunchy goodness… who can say no to that? It’s like a taste of home made bite-sized and even better. Don’t forget the dipping sauce to cut through the rich flavors! It helps you eat more of them.
While there are several branches of Grace in a Cup scattered all around the Metro, each branch has a drink or two that is exclusively available in each shop. During our visit, we got to try a wide variety of drinks – from their classics, to the special ones that JP improved himself.
A classic, no-frills royal milk tea, this drink features black tea and a splash of milk and sweetener that’s made even better with their tapioca “boba” pearls. One noteworthy thing about their pearls is that they’re chewy—a telltale sign that they’re made fresh, which really raises the bar. Taste-wise, their drink is milkier and sweeter, making the tea flavor subtler. JP’s basis in creating this drink is the much-coveted Coco Milk Tea. For me, they’re actually pretty close.
This bestselling drink is exclusively available in their Manila branch. Let me warn you: it’s made for those with a sweet tooth. The base is a creamy mango smoothie with layers of crushed grahams in the middle, topped with mango ice cream, custard (leche flan) and whipped cream. Don’t forget the boba pearls, which give it an added chew. The Mango Overload is essentially a mango float made into a drink. It’s fruity, sweet, and creamy with a mix of different flavors and textures that make drinking it a wild experience.
Lactose intolerant? Don’t worry! Grace in a Cup’s Strawberry Soy drink is the milk tea alternative for you. Much like the classic drink, the base used is black tea paired with soy milk, boba pearls and the piece de resistance: strawberry syrup! You won’t miss much here since the drink has full-bodied flavors, much like its milky counterpart. Don’t forget to shake it and spread the flavors evenly before sticking in your straw!
There will forever be a faction divided when it comes to matcha. People who don’t like it don’t appreciate the grassy aftertaste, while the ones who love it can’t get enough of its unique and strong flavors! The Matcha Overload of Grace in a Cup unites these factions by offering a drink that is creamy and sweet with hardly any bitterness and no weird aftertaste. It’s earthy and rich, made creamy with the addition of ice cream on top, and milk to blend everything together. Along with the Mango Overload, the Matcha Overload is another favorite of mine.
You can get Grace in a Cup, too, by ordering through their partners: 1onebuy, a delivery service that originated in China, and Dealgrocer. This is only available for their Manila branch, though.
Good drinks, good food, and good company. This is why people keep coming back. It is a great place to relax and chill – a place of healing and positivity that helps everyone see the beauty of the world.
Grace in a Cup
2/F Adams Bldg, 708 Victoria corner Escuela street, Intramuros Manila