SGD Coffee Bodega: The State of Filipino Coffee

Teacher’s Village’s Maginhawa Street that has been acting up like sell-out pop singer and continues to just give birth to mass-produce ‘instagramable’ (this has been an established term apparently) restaurants that in turn gives out a mediocre quality of food/taste. I used to love Teacher’s Village. I loved it so much that I live southern part of Metro Manila that it constantly lures me to return at least once or twice a week The Maginhawa food scene used to be decent and does not contempt to over capitalize on its patrons, but for the past 3 years due to the rise of glorified food courts or ‘food parks,’ it became a bland scene. It is slowly losing its identity. I stopped returning. But a few months ago as a good friend told me about this coffee nook hidden from view, SGD Coffee Bodega is one of Manila’s best-kept secrets. It sits quietly along side a residential street in No. 45 Maalalahanin St. The road is narrow and the neighborhood is quiet.

If you are anything like me, who will go above and beyond Manila’s traffic to get a good cup of coffee bundled with a solid ambiance then  SGD Coffee Bodega by Coffee Science Center is an interesting find for you.

 

 

The best time to be in this place is when there is a light rain late in the afternoon, just before sunset, as the clock ticks into the blue hour.  There is no millennial-indie pop or pretentious jazz fusion music, just a well-lit, airy space where you can study or get some work done. The space feels like I just stepped inside a Sagada home or coffee shop. Elements of wood, the course of natural light and the light scent of fresh coffee beans roasting is inviting and gives you immediately a feeling of home.

 

 

But see SGD Coffee Bodega more than just a solid ground for a neighborhood coffee hang out place aside from serving coffee they have an advocacy as a social-conscious-driven establishment. They serve 100% Arabica Coffee Beans, single origin, naturally grown, strictly high grown, handpicked, hand sorted, small batch roasted and directly traded. They do direct relationship with Sagada’s coffee farmers.

 

Recently, they entered and in the AVPA 2017 coffee competition in Paris, France bagging the Médaille Gourmet. The “Bana’s Coffee” from Sagada are quality-focused farmed heirloom coffees that the Coffee Heritage Project helped plant and grow a smallholder lot. The initiative focuses as well on developing environmentally sustainable and not to mention socially responsible methods of coffee farming. Learn more here.

 

(creative banner from SGD Coffee Official Facebook Page)

 

 

 

As SGD Coffee and Coffee Science Center’s facility houses, not just the in-house coffee shop, but also in its second floor a Coffee Cupping Lab and its sensory lab. They offer courses:

  • Coffee Sensory Master Courses
  • Roast Theory Workshop
  • Applied Science in Coffee Origins
  • Certification Programs

We’re linking the official site for a more comprehensive listing here

 

 

But the coffee itself is the star. The smooth, dark coffee that contrasts well with its cup lay on their wooden table. It’s noir complexity, vibrant aroma penetrates deep into my nose. The dark liquid matter that is inside this cup was carefully prepared.

 

 

SGD gets its coffee exclusively from a mountaintop region, known as Sagada, that is much colder than the rest of the Philippines. While most coffee plantations grow robusta and liberica or Kapeng Barako that is in the southern part of the Philippines. The unique climate and soil in Sagada allow a special type of arabica to grow in the region. The single origin beans may be described as smooth, very neutral in flavor and hint of sweet oak aroma.

 

 

 

SGD Coffee is the place you go to when someone tells you: “Let’s talk over coffee”, or if you want to go somewhere write or finish up a freelance project. They efficiently used their space with ample outlets for laptops, high ceiling, and wooden fixtures provide a relaxing ambiance. And yes, there aren’t any rowdy customers. Their baristas are very knowledgeable and courteous. You can sense that they are there because they believe in SGD’s cause.

They are unpretentious about their coffee. You won’t see any giant espresso machine with the flashing lights, Pinterest inspired knick-knacks. They are dedicated to the coffee that they are serving, the way it is sourced that connects deeply with the farmers in Sagada.

 

 

The basic SGD black will cost you 120php (2USD) it’s priced the same with relatively bigger foreign green coffee chains you see around the country. Personally, I’d rather be spending that good old 12ophp to shop like SGD Bodega. We as consumers play a big role with the uplift of these products. Although the Sagada beans won the Médaille Gourmet Award in Paris we still have a lingering perception that our local beans are still inferior to the top coffee chains you see around. Again, the growth or depletion depends on the consumers.

There are still a lot of work that needs to done and a few more people like those who work and own SGD Bodega to raise awareness and remove the lag that we have as top coffee producers from Southeast Asia compared to the likes of Vietnam and Malaysia. For the interim, be a conscious consumer and support local. One step at a time.

As SGD Coffee and Coffee Science Center raises the quality of Sagada beans and promotes coffee education, this counts for an added chapter in the Philippine coffee story, and most especially their strong vision in supporting locally sourced products, support for local farmers and their families  which, hopefully, will spark and ignite more awareness both locally and abroad.

So, yes. I will drive from Alabang to Teacher’s village to have another cup of black coffee.

SGD Coffee Bodega by Coffee Science Center

Credits for some of the materials used:

  • SGD’s Official Facebook Page for the 2 (two) farm photos
  • Julie Ann King/Kaitlyn Cruz/Timmy General for the AVP Link

 

 

 

 

 



3 thoughts on “SGD Coffee Bodega: The State of Filipino Coffee”

  • I love a good coffee, more so if it’s of good quality. I attended a cupping event before where I learned about the entire coffee processing and I was really fascinated by the fact that it was not as simple as I thought. Since then I’ve grown a better appreciation of this dark liquid that we all like to drink to function as normal human beings lol. So when you said that SGD’s coffee has gone through such painstaking process to ensure quality I am already sold. I live far from Quezon City, but I don’t mind making a trip there just to visit this cafe. I totally love your rating meter hahaha… 3 extra rice indeed.

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