I thought I would try out a few “new” coffee shops whose names had been going around – namely, Barn, Plato, and Beach. None of them sounded like the conventional third wave, but I thought I’d take a shot at them. Little did I know that the shots would be literal – and not espresso shots, much to my disappointment.
The first on my list was Barn. I was greeted by swarms of over-enthusiastic adolescents who had their drinks in the air, making toasts to the weekend (they were mistaken; it was only Thursday). If I had to raise a glass, I would’ve smashed one to the wall because this coffee shop wasn’t what I expected at all. My eardrums immediately came close to bursting from chants of “Five seconds, walang malisya!” – a phrase I’m pretty sure is unheard of at any café on the face of the Earth. I didn’t bother sticking around to find out what those four words meant, although I’m thinking maybe it was five seconds of intense studying, perhaps? This was a place more infamous than the library for holding “group works,” after all. Just ask any parent or guardian.
I fought my way to the counter and made my order, to which the cashier lady replied, “Sorry, we don’t serve coffee.” I thought it odd, because what kind of coffee shop doesn’t serve coffee? I gave them dagger eyes and proceeded to order an iced tea.
As I exited the open room, it was clear to me why it was called “Barn”, for it was a place that housed (party) animals. What a shame, because they almost had the “hipster coffee shop” look down pat – from the brick walls, to the printed ceramic tiles, to the wooden tables. However, there was no bossa nova or John Mayer – only EDM and more EDM more EDM, on loop long enough to give me ADHD.
Still intent on getting my buzz and juices flowing, I ventured away from the barn house of party animals and onto the shores of Beach. To my horror, however, I realized that I was once again misled. There was no body of water on this beach, nor did it look even remotely close to a coffee shop like they said it was supposed to be.
While the vibe was relatively more relaxing than my first stop, their menu was just as barren. I sighed to myself and was disheartened by their array of cheap candy-colored cocktails and pulutan. My journey in search of a decent workspace started to feel like the search for the lost city of Atlantis. To be fair, they did offer me a consolation prize of some 3-in-one instant coffee, but as we Millennials would know, what good is that when it’s not served in a mason jar with a cute little straw, right?
On a normal day, though, killing time at this sand-less Beach house wouldn’t be so bad. The crowd was more relaxed and less eager to drown in each other’s sweat, so it has that going for it. Plus, the atmosphere was spacious and breezy, the tables were wide, and the staff even lets you play your own music.
My attempts at getting my caffeine fix were proving to be more and more futile, but I did not give up. Just a stone’s throw away from Beach and Barn was Plato, the last of my Thursday coffee shop endeavors.
At this point, I set my standards low and prepared myself for whatever was to come. As I got to Sherwood, I was welcomed by a slew of sketchy-looking bars that were yet to open for the day’s business, but one corner was already alive and booming with music. Sadly, there was no denying that I had reached my destination.
You could say that I had a lot on my plate at Plato. The place was surrounded by beer pong tables galore, but it was a lot more noticeably laid-back than the previous coffee shops I had visited. Maybe it was just because it was still too early for the young bloods to come out and play, though.
Upon entering, I was welcomed by quaint blackboard walls, worn-out black interiors, and a shelf of board games. You could even play video games, if traditional Monopoly wasn’t your cup of tea. “Not too shabby,” I thought to myself. But I held my breath and crossed my fingers as I asked if they had coffee. It no longer came as a surprise that no, they didn’t. Third time wasn’t the charm after all, but I had long thrown my patience out the window as I surrendered to a bottle and a monster plate of nachos.
All I needed was some quiet time and my dose of caffeine. I had searched Taft Avenue and visited the most famous coffee shops around, but what I had found was not third wave. It was a wave of people, alcohol, and lack of inhibition. One thing was for certain – I needed to get better recommendations. The news probably wasn’t my best bet.