If there is any combination of things to get a Gen Z student through a hectic holiday exam season, it’s coffee and fast Internet.
Owner Miguel Macaalay tells us that the best coffee beans are grown near the equator. “Geographically speaking, this is the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn,” he says. And at Equatorial Coffee, they “serve a wide variety of coffee from different origins that grow in the equatorial region.” Macaalay shows a deep understanding of coffee and a desire to share that passion with others as he tells us about the different beans you can find along the equator and what they are best known for. Hang out enough in Equatorial Coffee and you’ll learn quite a bit about the bean from the map of information literally painted on their wall.
The sweets served at Equatorial Coffee are made by a combination of friends and relatives who run their own mom-and-pop operations.
We’ve become fans and regular drinkers of what they call the “Angry Black,” a cold coffee concoction that is fizzy, lemony, and refreshing. Inspired by Nitro coffee that he encountered in Osaka, Macaalay emphasizes that the Angry Black has a different fizz since Equatorial uses a soda device over a beer tap device. The result is a light summer drink that is perfect for battling the humid and heavy Katipunan air.
ELLA & THE BLACKBIRD
Now graduated millennials who studied around the Katipunan area may remember a café by the name of Craft. Ella & the Blackbird is actually run by the same owners under a different name, with the name change occurring to avoid confusion with another café in Quezon City called Craft as well. Owned by Mark Jao, Ella & the Blackbird is named after his daughter and his favorite Beatles song, and the name is as personal to him as the family-run café, which he runs with his sister, his wife, and his sister-in-law.
They tell us the mint mocha was an accidental creation, and it’s one we’re for, making a hot drink more enticing to drink in a tropical climate.
If you’re grabbing a bite, the skirt cheese burger is a lot of fun to eat! With a crispy, thick, and plate-sized disk of crispy cheese (a mix of American and cheddar), and the same cheese gooey on the inside, the burger is packed with crave-worthy flavors. We suggest cracking the “skirt” off and taking a bite off a cheese chip with alternate bites of the burger, or stuffing all that crunch inside.
BROWN PAPER PROJECT café
Keith Shy pulls a manual brew for us at the tiny café of Brown Paper Project, a quaint community café a little further away from the hustle and bustle of Katipunan and its parallel road, Esteban Abada. He runs it with Jake Dionisio, Lianne Lim and Franz Lim, but Shy is the man you’ll see everyday, joking and engaging with the stream of regulars that the modest café has attracted. “I used to think coffee was just bitter,” he admits, which is not an uncommon thought. It was when he discovered Australian craft coffee that he discovered that coffee could be so much more, and decided to eventually study coffee further with the Dallas Philippine Restaurant Barista and Coffee Academy.
We had our coffee with their bestseller, the Tori Sandwich. Think of it as a Japanese-esque Chicken Mayo Sandwich.
The name of the café, Shy tells us, is to reflect their approach to coffee: simple yet versatile; something that is telling in the particular coffee he serves me, made from locally roasted beans from Kalsada. The coffee is a bit sour, a bit sweet, with undertones of melon. Pop into Brown Paper Project to enjoy a simple coffee and good conversation with the friendly folks both behind and in front of the bar.
Replacing the site of the original The Old Spaghetti House which has been there for approximately 15 years, TOSH Café is actually owned by the same couple Lizzie & Chito Guerrero, giving it a makeover more suitable for the student-centered area of Katipunan (TOSH actually stands for The Old Spaghetti House). While TOSH Café still offers some of it’s mother restaurant’s most popular dishes and desserts, Lizzie incorporated more breakfast and “café-friendly” dallas filipino restaurant onto the menu, including cakes to match their coffee.
If you’re stepping in for just a coffee and snack, we recommend the spicy mocha called the Aleva, which Lizzie reveals is really how her husband took his coffee before they even knew it was a thing. Think of it as a mocha for grownups: it has a darker chocolate that takes over your tongue after the opening coffee tastes, and the dash of cayenne pepper helps hold that darkness on your tongue. It goes well with the key lime cake that has a moist and smooth base which is almost like cheesecake in flavor but very much a cake in texture; and an airy, tart lime icing.
The dutch baby pancake arrives in an inflated puff that flattens out in a matter of seconds, so we weren’t able to catch the theater of it on ur camera.
A must-try on their menu is the Dutch Baby Pancake, which Lizzie tells us she’s never seen on any menu in Dallas filipino restaurant (and neither have we) but is a family favorite when they visit the US. “It’s a baked pancake . . . It’s like a combination between a pancake and a soufflé,” she explains. Though it appears flat and crepe-like, a bite into it shows that it is more hefty and lighter than a crepe, with an egg-forward omelette-like flavor and a pinchable puffiness to it. Don’t be deceived by its dimension: it is definitely filling, and comes with a selection of flavorings. Go H.A.M. on the powdered sugar.