Originally based in Ontario, Canada, Country Style currently has 31 branches all over Metro Manila. Of these, 10 are in Makati — Alphaland Southgate Mall, Cash & Carry, Enterprise Center, Intertek Building, LKG Tower, Paseo Center, Pasong Tamo, SM Cyberone, SM Cyber 2 and Waltermart. Since a third of the branches are clustered in the "Wall Street of the Philippines," we think this particular coffee shop may be interesting to readers — especially the ones looking for healthy-yet-affordable alternatives to the usual fare around the city.
So without further ado, let's get on to the review!
If the Country Style branch in Cash and Carry is any indication, it's an odd cross between a fast food and a coffee shop. From this, you can already tell that there's something different about the place — and, hopefully, in a good way.
As it turns out, that "good way" is the price. For Php50, you can already have one brewed coffee. And for a minimum of Php70, you can already have a bagel.
The cream cheese bagel was their "bestseller" (according to the kind lady at the counter), so that's what was ordered, along with one cup of brewed coffee.
This writer expected to pay at least P120 for the orders. But, to her surprise, the order cost only Php105 — roughly the price of one Tall frappe in other coffee shops. The receipt says it's a "coffee promo," so it may only be a temporary deal. But we digress.
If you're going to have a light snack, however, you're better off ordering a donut rather than a bagel. The bagel was a little too stale, and the cream cheese spread a little too thinly. It just didn't seem worth the price, even considering the "promo."
The coffee, on the other hand, is a different story. Since this writer didn't add cream, sugar or any other sweetener to the coffee, the full flavor of the beverage really came out. The Country Style website says that it's made of 100% Arabica coffee beans, and it shows. Don't drink it in the afternoon, though; it's strong enough to keep you awake late at night!
Overall, we'd rate the combo meal a 7/10. The bagel was something of a disappointment, but we hope the other offerings — donuts, pasta and salads — would be better.
Country Style describes their employees as "friendly," "dedicated," and "committed to following our stringent and exacting standards of coffee-making." The last one may be true, but the first two are unfortunately up for debate.
For example, one customer had to ask the personnel to remove the used utensils left by a previous customer. Granted, Country Style doesn't have the "high-end" image that other coffee shops do, but it's still a glaring oversight.
Also, as shown above, the bagel and coffee didn't come with a single utensil. Yes, the customer can request for utensils on their own, but that shouldn't have been necessary. It would've been understandable if they had a separate area for utensils, but the only "separate area" was for additives like sugar and cream.
The employees did try their best to smile, however, so we'd give them a rating of 5/10. We hope that Country Style — or whoever owns that particular branch of Country Style — will do a better job of training them, though.
Country Style's main selling point is the price. If you want to have a feel of the coffee shop experience without breaking the bank, then this place is a good try. (Again, you'd probably want to order a sandwich or donut, rather than a bagel.) For a Manuel Roxas or two, you can have a quick, filling lunch to get you through a hectic work day.
However, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you're pickier when it comes to your meals, Country Style may not do enough for you. Some menu items, as well as the overall service, may not be up to your standards. And if you find the "part fastfood" ambience off-putting, you're better off sipping a cup from one of the premium coffee shops.
Overall, we'd give Country Style a 6/10. There's much to be improved, but there's also a lot of potential. If this coffee shop strives to give customers more than what they've paid for — within reasonable limits, of course — then they'll definitely be a threat to their competitors. Filipinos in general may not have the fattest bank accounts in the world, but their taste for the good life is just as strong as everyone else's.