5 of Our Favorite Coffee Shops Around the University Belt
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5 of Our Favorite Coffee Shops Around the University Belt

How We Picked 


We chose coffee shops that offer a relaxing and cozy atmosphere through interior elements like lighting and furniture. To enhance the experience, we also considered the staff for their attentiveness and hospitality.


The menu should come with a selection of food that can go along with the coffee like breakfast sets and pastries. We also tested these based on the quality and adjustments based on the customer’s preferences or dietary needs.


While comfortable seating is a must, we also looked for other features like Wi-Fi and sockets, particularly for students in the area. The facilities like restrooms and function rooms should be regularly cleaned and maintained.


We considered the ease of access and wayfinding to the location and their operating hours. Students usually prefer shops with extended hours, especially those that operate until midnight.


Since the customer pool around the area consists mainly of students, we checked if their prices can fit any budget and are proportional to the quality of their offerings.

1. Manila Cafe 

Manila Cafe Homepage

Menu: espresso-based drinks, cold brew, non-coffee drinks, frappes, fruit shakes, pastries, snacks, pasta, pizza, milk tea, tea

Website: https://manilacafe.ph/

Address: Anie’s Place, 1015 Padre Noval St, Sampaloc, Manila

Contact Details: 0968 879 7002

Shop Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 MN

Google reviews score4.9/5
Facebook reviews score5/5
GrabFood reviews score4.2/5
Total reviews4.5/5
Score consistency4/5
— Ambience4/5
— Staff Hospitality4.5/5
Menu 4/5
— Quality4/5
— Variety of Options4/5
Amenities 4/5
Accessibility 5/5
Pricing (a higher rating means better value)5/5


  • Affordable prices
  • Offers a diverse menu, including pizza
  • Open until 12 midnight
  • Friendly and upbeat staff
  • Offers student-friendly amenities


  • Doesn’t offer plant-based milk as alternatives
  • Tends to get crowded in the afternoon and evening
  • Less focused on specialty coffee

Just established in late 2020, Manila Cafe has quickly become a favorite among university students in the area, especially those from UST. 

Within just two years, they have already expanded to two locations. Their flagship branch along P. Noval sets a high standard with its spacious hall and amenities tailored to meet the needs of the typical college student. 

Upon entering, the life-sized Iron Man statues immediately demand attention. The cafe itself features sleek furniture and polished concrete surfaces, which may not suit everyone in terms of comfort.

While each table is well-lit for reading, the shop tends to become crowded with customers in the evenings. Consequently, it can get quite noisy, and the hard surfaces only serve to amplify the sound.

It’s no wonder why this is the case, they’re some of the more student-friendly options out there in terms of prices.

Whether or not you’re a coffee lover, they offer a wide selection of drinks to choose from like  hot or cold espresso-based drinks, milk teas, fruit shakes, and more. They’re everyone’s cup of tea (so to speak) save for the limited options for milk alternatives.

On another note, we love that their pizzas are named after some of Manila’s iconic spots. Their Intramuros and Tondo pizzas appear to be bestsellers.

Alongside their affordable rates and friendly staff, they take pride in their home base which the name takes after. Apart from the heavy foot traffic and limited accommodations for dietary restrictions, they’re an all-around great choice for students.

2. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Homepage

Menu: coffee and espresso drinks, tea and tea lattes, ice-blended drinks, coffee-free drinks, breakfast sets, pasta, desserts, pastries, gourmet sandwiches, salads

Website: https://www.coffeebean.com.ph/

Address: 812 Recto Ave, Sampaloc, Manila

Contact Details: (02) 8244 3950

Shop Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Google reviews score4.4/5
GrabFood reviews score4.4/5
Foodpanda reviews score4.1/5
Total reviews5/5
Score consistency5/5
— Ambience4/5
— Staff Hospitality5/5
Menu 4.5/5
— Quality4.5/5
— Variety of Options4.5/5
Amenities 4.5/5
Accessibility 5/5
Pricing (a higher rating means better value)4/5


  • Student-oriented 
  • Convenient location
  • Conducive and relaxed environment
  • Friendly and accommodating service
  • Wide selection of coffee and tea beverages


  • Members-only Wi-Fi access 
  • Closes early

After launching its first few locations in the Philippines in 2003, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has grown steadily to over 180 locations all over the country. The California-based franchise is known for its coffee and tea beverages, hence the name.

Their seasonal drinks in particular are something to look forward to every time. Like another contender on this list, they also offer loyalty programs for collectible items, which is engaging for their patrons.

Their Sampaloc branch is conveniently located along Recto Avenue, near the LRT Station and universities like San Beda and UE. Because of this, the shop has become a common meet-up and hang-out spot for students. 

We noticed that students make up the majority of their visitor pool, which is why the noise levels seem to be at a minimum most of the time. They also have power outlets, but the Wi-Fi can only be accessed by cardholders as far as we looked.

However, owning a card might be worth it in the long run, especially for those who frequent the shop. Their staff is also a warm and welcoming bunch and even established a good rapport with their patrons.

Unfortunately, they recently adjusted their closing hours to 9 pm. If you’re planning to work or study into the night, it’s best to look for other cafes nearby.

3. Chapter Coffee & Roastery Cafe 

Chapter Coffee & Roastery Cafe Homepage

Menu: international coffee, Philippine coffee, specialty blends, non-coffee drinks, all-day breakfast, main courses, salads, pasta, sandwiches, desserts, pastries, coffee beans

Website: https://chaptercoffee.shop/

Address: 1226 B V Concepcion St, Sampaloc, Manila

Contact Details: 0906 208 6639

Shop Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Google reviews score4.5/5
Facebook reviews score3.9/5
Total reviews4/5
Score consistency4/5
— Ambience5/5
— Staff Hospitality5/5
Menu 5/5
— Quality5/5
— Variety of Options5/5
Amenities 4.5/5
Accessibility 4.5/5
Pricing (a higher rating means better value)3.5/5


  • Serves a selection of high-quality coffee and food
  • Reverse bar set-up offers a unique experience
  • Well-designed interiors
  • Accommodating and personable staff
  • Offers mobile-catering for special occasions


  • Restricted seating capacity
  • Prices are higher
  • Limited operation hours

Chapter Coffee & Roastery is a local chain of cafes founded by a team of devoted coffee specialists. They’re mainly a coffee company that produces and distributes beans in bulk, but their cafes seem to run a life of their own from what we’ve seen.

Starting with its pioneer branch along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City, it has since expanded to five other chapters across the metro.

Their most recent branch just opened near UST but has already made waves within the local community. This, along with the experienced baristas behind their counters, made it apparent that the art of crafting quality coffee is the heart of the business. 

The shop itself is a charming hole-in-the-wall that seamlessly blends with the architectural style reminiscent of old Manila, infused with a modern twist. 

This continues inside the two-story interior, which boasts an open layout furnished with natural elements and ample natural lighting.

Like their spectrum of carefully-curated drinks, we appreciate the attention to detail in the well-designed space, all without sacrificing comfort. They opted for a reverse bar arrangement, providing customers with a full view of their coffee-making process.

The downside is that the place can only fit around 20 customers at a time, so make sure to drop by early if you’re planning to study. Their prices are also relatively expensive, which is something to consider.

Nevertheless, they have established themselves as leaders in the specialty coffee scene, making them an excellent choice for coffee lovers. 

4. Starbucks Torre Lorenzo

Starbucks Torre Lorenzo Homepage

Menu: brewed coffee, espresso drinks, blended beverages, tea, non-coffee beverages, Coffee Traveler kits, sandwiches, pasta, desserts, pastries, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit cups

Website: https://www.starbucks.ph/

Address: G/F, Torre Lorenzo Bldg., Taft Ave, corner Ocampo St, Manila

Contact Details: (02) 8522 5777

Shop Hours: Monday – Sunday: 6:30 AM – 12:00 MN

Google reviews score4.4/5
GrabFood reviews score4.7/5
Foodpanda reviews score4.6/5
Total reviews5/5
Score consistency5/5
— Ambience4/5
— Staff Hospitality5/5
Menu 5/5
— Quality5/5
— Variety of Options5/5
Amenities 4/5
Accessibility 5/5
Pricing (a higher rating means better value)4.5/5


  • Quick, hospitable, and efficient service staff
  • Facilities are regularly maintained
  • Long operating hours
  • Food and drink quality is consistent
  • Plenty of sockets
  • Sticker-based loyalty programs


  • Spotty Wi-Fi service
  • Bustling with a heavy crowd and roadside noise

It wouldn’t be a list of the best coffee shops without including the Seattle-based company we all know and love. With its first-class coffee, extensive global network, and iconic logo, Starbucks needs no introduction. 

The corporate giant established its first branch in the Philippines in 1997 and has since become one of the key players in the local coffee industry. Their Torre Lorenzo branch along Taft has been a go-to for De La Salle students for almost 10 years. 

In addition to catering to the academic community, the shop also attracts young professionals and local residents. While the Starbucks experience remains consistent, what sets them apart is their exceptionally accommodating and efficient staff. 

We’ve heard glowing reviews of their service, particularly the prompt and consistent preparation of food and beverages. Despite the constant rush, the staff remains friendly and laid-back, creating a welcoming atmosphere in this often-crowded location. 

Due to its proximity to the LRT station and universities, as well as its location at a busy intersection, the café experiences high foot traffic and noise. 

However, it’s surprising to note that customers rarely have to wait in line to place their orders. Additionally, the indoor space is soundproofed, effectively minimizing external noise disturbances. 

For those planning to work or study, the café provides ample sockets conveniently located throughout the premises. They also pioneered sticker-based promotions where customers can redeem exclusive items every year.

All in all, it’s evident that the coffee shop has embraced the student-friendly concept in the amenities available, long hours, and friendly accommodations.

5. Kapetolyo by SGD Coffee

Kapetolyo by SGD Coffee Homepage

Menu: coffee, cold beverages, desserts, all-day breakfast, pasta, wraps, salad, sandwiches, starters

Website: https://www.coffeeheritageproject.com/

Address: Kartilya ng Katipunan Park, Cecilia Muñoz Palma Drive, Ermita, Manila

Contact Details: 0915 241 4285

Shop Hours

  • Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Friday – Sunday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Google reviews score4.2/5
Total reviews4/5
Score consistency5/5
— Ambience5/5
— Staff Hospitality4/5
Menu 3.5/5
— Quality3/5
— Variety of Options4/5
Amenities 4/5
Accessibility 4.5/5
Pricing (a higher rating means better value)3/5


  • Breathtaking interiors and surroundings
  • Supports local coffee farmers through initiatives
  • All coffee beans are locally-sourced
  • Spacious amenities and ample parking spaces
  • Hosts special events like live performances


  • Offerings are at a premium
  • Limited coffee selection
  • Food quality is somewhat lacking
  • Wi-Fi is unavailable

Kapetolyo is a joint effort by the local government of Manila and the owners of SGD Coffee, an acclaimed local coffee enterprise. 

What began as an event to foster connections between local coffee farmers and entrepreneurs has transformed into a vibrant café. Amidst the backdrop of the city’s historic center, the shop opened its doors at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the places we’ve visited, this piqued our interest the most because of its site and distinctive floor-to-ceiling glass walls. For us, it’s an ideal refuge for students seeking solace in nature, away from the bustling streets of U-Belt. 

While the surroundings offer much to behold, the interior of the café is equally remarkable and spacious. In addition to the main floor, customers can enjoy their coffee and study on the mezzanine level. 

Basic amenities like sockets and restrooms are also available, but it’s best to bring you’re own pocket Wi-Fi. They also close by 9 pm, which is early for most students.

On the other hand, we found it strange that their menu for coffee-based drinks is limited. Few have also complained about the quality of the food, while some wished they allowed little adjustments to their coffee like milk options and sugar content.

The prices are also a bit steep, even compared to corporate international brands. Still, by supporting them, you contribute to the preservation of local coffee heritage and the livelihood of smallholder farmers.

Overall, the coffee shop offers a unique experience, blending coffee enjoyment with a commitment to local coffee culture.

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