Blocleaf Café Malate rests under Hop Inn Hotel just look for the millennial pink tower across the street, the area appears characterless and at some point, ordinary. It is an unlikely image from what is beyond this street. However, the appeal of this quaint café lies in the absence of aggressive assertion of signs leading towards ‘hey, look at us! We’re ultra hip and global’ pretentious mimicry of coffee shops abroad.
We arrived around 4 pm in the afternoon on a Saturday. Their space is quaint and inviting. Natural light floods in through its big glass windows. Ferns hang loosely above and thoughtfully placed pots of plants placed around the area. Bespoke and simple wooden furniture create a perfect symmetry of everything. Literally, there are wooden blocks and plants/leaves around the place which perfectly completed the Blockeaf name of the shop.
This neighborhood coffee shop is similar to neighborhood shops you see in Japan. Their concept might be foreign in nature, but their menu is everything Filipino. They source their beans from Kalsada who champions Philippine specialty coffee. Their top priority is to support Filipino coffee producers and their dedicated efforts to bring quality coffee to market. They serve savory dishes desserts that are intertwined with core Filipino staple ingredients like tuyo (salted dried fish) and longanggisa (Filipino sausage) perfectly accentuates their pasta dishes. They serve modest but dynamic pastries selection. Aside from their home baked specialty cookies and cheesecakes, Blocleaf also features seasonal cakes every month like Ube cheesecakes.
We ordered a cup of hot Americano (120php) and Cafe Mocha (150php). We were pretty satisfied with the depth of flavors and how good the roast was. We only planned to stay for a few minutes since we only need to have our afternoon caffeine fix, but because of that good cup of coffee, the interior and also the solid playlist of tracks playing in the background brings in calmness in the midst of Manila district’s chaotic character. This 20 (or 25) sq.m. in floor size shop, its well lit and very cozy ambiance made us stay for more than 3 hours.
Their mocha is also made with locally sourced chocolate.
The owners have a good collection of journals and magazines sourced internationally. We suggest you try enjoying at least 2 or 3 titles while having your coffee.
Just like what the folks over at Escolta are doing by breathing life yet again to Manila, Blocleaf goes beyond good coffee and design. We’re glad they didn’t settle with a more ‘hip’ city like Fort BGC or Makati. To be honest, these areas are too commercially congested. There is a growing interest by the general nostalgia public to bring back spots like Malate back to life. This coffee shop is a reminder to most of us that there’s so much to explore in Manila.
Blocleaf is still in its infantile stage and yet consciously made a solid statement with their venture. Del Pilar Street as a location of choice for a specialty coffee shop seems like an obscure business decision, and really going against the flow, but we admire them for seeing the potential of this untapped market.
There’s a lack of venturing specialty coffee shops in the Manila area, the futility of only seeing the green franchise coffee chains and these Korean bubble tea nooks serving pretty bad concoctions. We were this close to giving up.
But one lazy Saturday afternoon, we lurched upon Blocleaf Café.
Blocleaf Café is at 1850 M. H. Del Pilar St., Malate, Manila. It’s open from Sunday to Thursday, from 8 to 9 pm, and from Friday to Saturday, from 8 to 10 pm.
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