Finding a good hideaway spot in crowded Manila can feel like such a chore these days. Despite the abundance of cafés and restaurants, sometimes a bad location can turn you off. Nestled inside a dormitory in Makati City is Café Emilio, a Japanese-inspired café with a Filipino touch.
Owners and siblings Katrina and Raoul Cornelio, aged 24 and 26 respectively, opened the café with one thing in mind: to get to know their customers. Having studied in the States and lived in Japan, Katrina found an interest in third wave coffee shops. She has always wanted to open an art café that would help support local artists, but her dream changed when her stay in Japan introduced her to cafés that were more intimate and homey. “Coffee shops in Manila are not intimate and that’s what I feel like is missing. That’s what inspired me to do this,” she says.
Come to think of it, this intimacy is a rarity in Manila now. There are a lot of cafes, both commercial and artisanal, in almost every street in the busiest cities. Inside it you find people whose main relationship is with their gadget because they’re all too preoccupied with working. But Katrina and Raoul make it a point to make a connection with their customers. At one point during our visit, we were asked how we liked our coffee –– a question people rarely get asked when visiting a coffee shop who take their brew seriously. It was a nice gesture, and a definite conversation starter.
Young STAR sat down with Katrina Cornelio to learn more about the café’s very Filipino theme and the secret behind what makes a customer stay. That, and what makes their KKK coffee so scandalous (but in a good way).