Whenever I visit a new location, I always make it a point to try the local cafes before I go for the commercial ones when I yearn for coffee. It’s always interesting to see the local culture and flavor in small and homegrown cafes. I used to shift back and forth to Manggahan in Pasig since I rented a place there before. And just in the neighborhood, right across the street where I stay, is Bantai Coffee. A cozy little cafe at the 2nd floor of a building is filled with charm, nostalgia and good coffee.
Tucked at the busy street of Pres. Quezon St and corner of Avocado St, Bantai Coffee is not easy to find as it’s on the second floor of a low-rise building. The entrance is on a stairway beside a pizza shop. But it’s a pleasant climb along the stairs fringed with plants and sometimes I hear birds. Probably caged pets from the neighbors.
The cafe is owned and hands-on operated by a young creative couple who started this endeavor as a pop-up. Bantai as I was told, was an Ilocano term, meaning “mountain”. Hence the design of their logo. It’s a young establishment borne amidst the pandemic.
Cozy and Nostalgic Space
The place is small, somewhere between 20-30sqm, but with the glass walls and well-thought layout make it feels spacious. It’s modern but oozing with nostalgia. Items like vintage typewriters, cassette tapes, compact disc and analog cameras brings back fond memories of 80s and 90s. The first time I went here, the music playing were songs from the 90s. Both OPM and international pop to rock which made me feel right at home. Though these days it’s a mix of modern and classic, but it’s still in the genre I like, indie-pop with a little rock.
Several plants liven up the space more. Board and card games entice visitors to put down their phones to interact and play. I come here early afternoons when they open as there’s less people. It’s a conducive space to work and write. Afternoons and evenings can be packed.
On Mondays, the cafe is closed so they could rest. When they have booking for events, they also close.
Coffee and Tea
Having been here several times for months, I had the chance to try several of their offerings. My go to coffee lately had been their Spanish Latte (both hot and cold). I think they have one of the best ones I’ve tried. Their Dark Mocha and Salted Caramel was just okay for me. But if I want to keep it simple, their Americano is quite good.
Their Iced Shaken Tea is recommended if one is not in the mood for coffee. The Passion Fruit I had was excellent.
Bantai Coffee has limited food offering though which is understandable as they are a small cafe and it’s hard to manage a full kitchen. Having a few pastry offerings is more manageable. Their Cream Cheese Garlic Bread had been my go-to pastry as it is consistently good! Especially for the price.
They also have a Burnt Basque Cheesecake which I noticed they improved in the months I was going there. The first time I tried the pastry, it was dry and too sweet. The last one was much better, slightly crisp on the outside but the right softness and moist on the inside.
Occasionally they would have “Free cookie Wednesdays” too if you buy an iced venti drink. They play around with pastries offerings. Last time, they had a really good chocolate chip banana muffin heftily topped with chia and pumpkin seeds. Some days they have sliced blueberry cheesecakes too.
On the several occasions I visited, often these are the times I need to get out of my apartment for air and a different environment, I saw people in different walks of life dine here. Friends, lovers, soloist etc. I think Bantai Coffee built a nice community already, catering the neighborhood crowd both for dine-in and delivery. They may have limited food offering but the beverage is excellent and of good value for money. The ambience is worthy of your photos. I wish it was easy to park bikes here though but I heard you can bring your bike up and park beside the entrance. I’m not sure for cars and motors.
I recently moved out of this area, so I’ll surely miss this place. But I would definitely come back when I have a chance. If you find yourself in this busy Manggahan, Pasig area and is looking for good coffee and snacks, drop by Bantai Coffee.