It's a funny thing when you're wired like me (I could end the sentence right there, and it would hold up) and you come across a song or a band you like. You hope they enjoy enough success to keep on doing what they do, but not too much that it changes their spirit and--honestly but shamefully--the taste-deprived hoi polloi to which they'd be exposed will ruin the experience for you.
A watering hole is a lot like a song or a band. You want to keep it going, but you want it only to yourself and an exclusive few. A very thinly sliced niche.
You get that feeling when you enter Manila's Best Coffee, in what's already built of Southwoods City, Binan, Laguna. That is, if you can get past its cheesy, copycat name and branding that's so unassumingly mediocre it's comical.
Out front, you might see its sexist and ageist want ad for female Cafe Staff younger than 25.
Inside, it's all modern enough, artisan-looking enough, and Filipino enough to be a proper coffeeshop with a Philippine reference.
Its drink sizes skirt the line of political correctness and regional antagonism, named after the Philippines' three major island groups and sorted by land area (or favoritism, who knows?).
It's got what I would call an introvert narcissist corner--a plant-sentried nook with two seats, a strip of natural light, and a floor-to-ceiling wall mirror.
You can host a flash-mob in the restroom.
It's got no wifi and no electrical sockets on the walls or anywhere. It's almost like it's driving the (mobile-working) 'chic' Starbucks and faux-artisan hipster crowd away.
But the most notable feature of all is its prices: PhP55 (US$1.18) for a Luzon-sized Americano, a 22 oz. equivalent of a Venti.
Taking all these into account, you get an overall sense of a non-threatening obtuseness that's endearing at times and tolerable at others. An unintentional normcore cool and a political cluelessness--not insensitivity. Manila's Best Coffee is like a drunk uncle.
Yet the uncool that drives the solitude that makes it so appealing, is the same obtuseness that could usher a mass audience (or absence thereof) that could bring it down.
Manila's Best Coffee could be a cliquey introvert's watering hole. That is, until the next tanktop-, jersey shorts-, and flipflop-clad douchebag enters.