Oozing with charm and possessing a patina that only time and honest good food or drink can bestow, La Corona Cafe is THE genuine article. A small, unassuming cafe in a commercial district with blocks of shops, we stopped here for a cup of coffee after finishing our shopping at the Burgos Market. I am not a huge coffee drinker, but if one place might change my mind, La Corona would be it. With the most basic interiors featuring tiled floors and the simplest of tables and chairs, all looking out directly onto the street (no glass front, airconditioning or fans even), everything about this place screams that the essence lies in the heart of each cup of coffee or hot chocolate that they serve. Mind you, I loved the one wall of hardwood panelling and a few of the framed posters/paintings and the little counter/cubbyhole you walk up to to place your order. The menu of a painted sign to the right of the counter is equally charming. This is the kind of place that NO chain coffeehouse can ever replicate, no matter how many interior decorators they employ.
If the walls could tell tales here, just imagine the decades of stories about local politics, romance, wealth, power, indiscretions, business, pleasure, sport and just good old chismis. At PHP22 for a fantastic cup of brewed coffee, it is an incredible value. How can one pay PHP100 for a cup of Starbucks if you could have a mug of La Corona for 1/5th the price?! I understand that regulars sometimes have mugs behind the counter with their names written on the base of the cup, in the same way that fancy schmancy bars have bottles of sake or single malt whiskies with your personalized tag on them. And local rumor has it that part of the process to such smooth coffee did, at one time, involve passing the brew through a sock (a clean one, I hope), hence the unusual smoothness of the end product… Of course the omnipresent local light brown sugar is the sweetener of choice, and it pairs beautifully with the coffee. I finished my entire cup. And managed to taste the hot chocolate as well (photo up top) which was also very good. I noticed some local desserts in a fridge/display case but I didn’t see anyone eating anything… maybe it was too early in the morning for that.