Anyway, let's not talk about the weather any further. The reason we brought it up in the first place is that, regardless of the season, it's always a great time to have a cup of coffee. And few places offer that kind of coffee better than Toby's Estate.
The Chronicles of Toby's Estate
Unlike the first two establishments we reviewed before, Toby's Estate wasn't originally based in the Philippines. It was founded by Australian-born Toby Smith, who gave up his career as a lawyer to travel the world and know everything there is to know about coffee. Eventually, he came home to Sydney and started roasting coffee beans in his mother's garage.
This would lead to him becoming a major player in The Land Down Under's specialty coffee trade, and opening his own shop. This coffee shop — appropriately named "Toby's Estate" — would arrive on Philippine shores, and open up outlets all over Metro Manila. As of 2015, Toby's Estate has three outlets in Makati, two in Taguig and one in Pasig City.
For this review, we'll be tackling the branch located at V. Corporate Center, Shop 6, 125 L.P. Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. The shop has a rather unconventional schedule: It's open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. (Hey, at least it's open seven days a week, which is more than you can say for most establishments!)
The Coffee Shop
As soon as you set foot inside Toby's Estate, you know you'll be in for a different coffee shop experience. Unlike similar establishments, Toby's Estate has a more open ambience. There are more chairs to accommodate more patrons, and the lighting is bright and cheery (as opposed to warm and cozy). One side of the wall has clocks set to different time zones on it, so you can reflect on them while waiting for your order.
The employees' friendly disposition also adds to the light ambience. The security guard greets you courteously at the entrance, and a server ushers you to an available seat afterwards. If the server can find a more comfortable place for you to sit, they'll let you know as soon as possible.
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for your order to arrive, though. But that's okay, because the paper table mats — on which coffee facts are printed — will keep you entertained for roughly the same amount of time. Also, as we'll see in the following sections, the orders are worth waiting for.
The Food (and Coffee)
Since it's already late in the afternoon, this writer didn't order anything heavy like salads, sandwiches and main courses. However, she did order one Bucky's a la Mode topped with Salted Caramel Ice Cream, and one regular version of Toby's famous "off-menu" item: the Gibraltar. Since coffee is a bitter beverage, it's always a good idea to pair it with something sweet.
And oh, the combination is just lovely! Even though Bucky's a la Mode is meant to be dessert, the serving is large enough to fill your stomach (at least, for the time being). The spongy texture of the brownie meshes perfectly with the chilly taste of ice cream in your mouth, and the added choco-caramel toppings help too. You'll want to eat it slowly but surely, though, lest the sweetness overpower your taste buds.
As for the Gibraltar (pictured above), it certainly lives up to the blogosphere hype. There's just the right amount of bitterness and strength to it. Like the Bucky's a la Mode, it's something you taste one sip at a time. (Side note: Don't order this one in the late afternoon, like this writer did. It was strong enough to keep her awake for the entire Saturday night!)
The only nitpick you'll probably have is the price. Bucky's a la Mode costs at least Php250: Php80 for the Bucky's Original, and Php170 for the ice cream. (Since this writer ordered the Salted Caramel Ice Cream, which cost Php180, the total price for Bucky's a la Mode was bumped up to P260.) Meanwhile, the regular cup of Gibraltar cost Php130. Granted, "budget-friendly" and "specialty coffee shop" don't go together, but Toby's Estate is definitely not a place for the cash-strapped.
One Last Sip
If you work anywhere in the Makati Central Business District, Toby's Estate is a place you wouldn't want to miss. It's a great, if somewhat pricey, place for anyone looking for a different coffee shop experience. For more information on Toby's Estate, visit to their website at http://tobysestateph.com/.