I used to frequent alternative lifestyle hub Cubao Expo back when COVID-19 was still unknown. It was one ride away from my then-workplace, which made frequent after-work trips possible. One establishment there – KatHa Lifestyle Store – stood out in particular because of its pour-over coffee, courtesy of The Brewman Coffee.
Let me share a bit of history about the place. Cubao Expo is similar to Singapore’s Haji Lane with the proliferation of establishments catering to the hipster crowd. It used to be called Marikina Shoe Expo due to the many shoe stores and shoe repair shops that once lined the place. While the shoe stores have all but left, different establishments took over their old spaces.
I started frequenting KatHa Lifestyle Store and The Brewman Coffee in late 2019, eventually building the closest thing to a social circle I ever have. I mentioned in an entry from 2015 that I find building social connections rather difficult, but the frequent coffee shop trips were of much aid. The visits became longer and more frequent as my work situation became precarious. I was driven by a need to de-stress from work and know more people that share the same wavelength as I do.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and lockdowns were imposed to curb its spread. I got stuck in my residence at a city known for high poverty and crime levels. It did not help that the two subsequent jobs I had were both on a work from home setup, which continues as of writing. Things managed to loosen in 2021, but I still remained under what I call a “house arrest situation.” My mom’s passing in August of that year made it impossible for me to visit, as a lot of things needed to be ironed out.
During that span of time, The Brewman Coffee managed to find a bigger space it completely occupies. KatHa Lifestyle Store also expanded its space and partnered with a local coffee purveyor, serving up its own specialty beverages. Prior to this, The Brewman Coffee occupied a quarter of the space while KatHa Lifestyle Store had the rest.
It was only in April 2022, more than two years since my last visit, that I managed to check out The Brewman Coffee‘s new location at Cubao Expo. I told my team lead that I was planning to work remotely on one Saturday as cabin fever was preventing me from working properly at home, to which he replied in the affirmative. He even encouraged me to do so just to get a breath of fresh air!
The first place that came to my mind was The Brewman Coffee, and it was a good decision to work there! Friends and acquaintances, both old and new, were pleasantly surprised to see me again. I finished my work with sufficient motivation, given that I was at a new environment compared to simply working at home.
The Brewman Coffee is run by Jonathan, the eponymous “brewman”, alongside other baristas. Aside from signature drinks, the shop also offers both savory and sweet baked goods courtesy of Kabuki’s Bakery – run by Jonathan’s wife Ira.
I took a corner spot at the café’s community table, which was conveniently positioned near an electric outlet. Let me share some of the menu items I ordered during my visit.
The Breakfast Latte is an exclusive The Brewman Coffee creation. It’s composed of the signature Spanish Latte – coffee with condensed milk – topped with a generous amount of Milo cereal. Additional cereal is available for a fee. While the combination is good, one ought to be careful when eating (or drinking) it to avoid spilling the cereal.
Since I had not eaten lunch yet, I ordered one of the savory breads the café sells. The Tuna Bun was a good pick, as it stood out from other breads I tried out before. Kabuki’s Bakery did not scrimp on the tuna filling; others would put a minimal amount of tuna and pass it off, but not this. Every bite had a piece of the filling.
I later ordered a hot cup of The Brewman Coffee‘s Hot Chocolate. According to Fons (one of the baristas on duty), the café uses Auro chocolate buttons and cocoa powder as a base for this drink. Local chocolate brand Auro is known for its exceptional products, and it reflects with this beverage. It had the right amount of chocolate taste and sweetness, needing no sugar to liven it up.
Of course, hot beverages like these are best paired with cake. The Ube Custard Cake fit the bill perfectly. Jonathan gave me a 50% discount on this cake as it was the last piece, which I appreciated. The cake reminded me of a snack cake from Regent Foods that was a childhood favorite. Furthermore, the ube (purple yam) flavor wasn’t too cloying and jived well with the mildly sweet custard layer.
I wrapped up my office work as more and more customers entered. Since I was already done for the day, I decided to hang out at the counter to talk with the rest of the crew. It had been so long since I last had a conversation like that – a welcome respite for an introvert like me.
Café owner Jonathan also treated some children, who were kids of a regular patron, to a round of iced chocolate.
I decided to call it a day at around 6:30 in the evening as I had an important matter to attend the following day. Nevertheless, this trip to The Brewman Coffee was definitely the highlight of that Saturday – and I look forward to visiting the place again. I ultimately hope that things return to normal so we can all return to the life we once knew pre-pandemic.
I’ll end this entry with this wonderful dog right here who wanted to join me while working. “Your owners might get mad at me, because you’re hanging out with me and not them,” I even joked.
Until the next post, bon appetit.
The Brewman Coffee
Cubao Expo, #3 Gen. Romulo Avenue,
Araneta Center, Brgy. Socorro,
Cubao, Quezon City 1109