It seems as if all coffee shops–or at least, all the good ones–follow a certain standard. As if there was an unwritten law or list of requirements to pass as a highly rated coffee shop, or perhaps written down in a top secret dossier available only to the masters of modern day coffee. Maybe there’s an underground university for the food industry, and the coffee business was a fraternity wherein only these brothers knew the secrets to a good brew and warmly inviting interior design.
And I’m saying this because every other coffee shop would be practically the same.
But there are so many differences in Hollys Coffee, other than the fact that yes, it doesn’t have an apostrophe in its name. And despite these small, seemingly insignificant changes, barely noticeable stretchmarks from the norms of coffee businesses, Hollys Coffee is just revolutionary and brilliant all on its own. Yet it still manages to fit itself in to the fraternity of all good coffee shops, perhaps as the foreign exchange student, the Asian brother in the fold.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Hollys Coffee is a coffee shop that started out in South Korea in 1998. It has since expanded with branches in America, and now one–and exactly one–branch has put itself smack in the center of Manila. And it’s exactly where you find the South Koreans–not kidding. What I mean is Taft Ave., inside the newly constructed condominium building called One Archers, exactly beside the freshmen building of De La Salle University. Hollys Coffee is not only packed with university students during all hours of the week, but it also had its appearance as a sponsor for a couple of the university’s activities.
So what’s so special about this thing? There are three Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s, three Starbucks’ and two or more small time coffee shops lined up the avenue. What’s with Hollys?
Hollys is also pretty much the same, familiar, loving, warm, inviting atmosphere as any other coffee shop. It still decorates all its seating areas with the brown in different shades and hues, but uses modern-esque elements like light fixtures that looks like large bubbles. And they even mix in some hot red hues to warm up your cup. In fact, the tagline of Hollys is “Fresh Coffee, Romantic Spaces.” And indeed, looking at the red cushioned seats makes you want to cuddle up while having some fresh hot sweet potato latte.
And yes, I did say Sweet Potato Latte. It doesn’t have anything to do with coffee. And that’s also something that sets Hollys apart. They have Sweet Potato Latte and an assortment of iced tea, blended tea drinks and yogurt drinks. I’d like to think that these specialty tea beverages are what makes Hollys Coffee distinctively Asian as a brand.
The first time I went to Hollys, I got a Raspberry Cafe Mocha. As a rule, when trying out someplace new, take something familiar you can compare with. I love Seattle’s Raspberry Mocha Kiss, so I thought I could give Hollys a try.Hollys Coffee (December 15) Raspberry Cafe Mocha Size: Grande (Price: 150) Additional: Espresso Shot (+20) Serving Heat: Hot, not scorching Rating: 3.5/5
Consistency is very smooth. There is a deep after taste, and the dark chocolate has a really rich, lush taste that combines well with the coffee. The chocolate envelopes the raspberry flavor instead of the other way around.
It isn’t a secret that I love all things Matcha Green. So I had to try it out.Hollys Coffee (December 21) Matcha Latte Rating: 2.5/5
The Matcha Latte had very little sugar which should have allowed you to fully taste the matcha. However, the cream overpowers the beverage, and it starts to taste like warm milk with a leafy texture.
The last one is a definite must-try. I don’t know if there’s anything like it around, but I certainly haven’t heard of anyone else trying to get this out in the market. Sweet Potato Latte. The barista recommended it to me. I’m glad he knows what he’s doing.Hollys Coffee (January 14) Sweet Potato Latte Rating: 4.5/5
The Sweet Potato Latte was a unique drink with a very mild and earthy nuttiness, perfectly complimented by almond slices. Consistency was rich, and a little thicker than an average latte, almost like sweet soup with gentle creaminess. It has a rich, aroma of nuts and cream.
Over-all, Hollys Coffee is a success as a coffee shop because it accomplishes one thing that people usually forget. You don’t drink coffee; you experience it. A visit to Hollys Coffee is a truly enriching experience all on its own. I’m hoping to see more branches of Hollys pop up around the Metro in time to come.* Nope, I don’t have pictures I took myself. Sorry.