London's Kapihan Cafe Brings The Taste Of Home To Filipinos In The UK
If there's one thing to know about Filipinos abroad, it's that they miss home, and they miss it dearly. It's no surprise then that once Filipinos fly out of these islands, they wish more than anything to take a bit of home with them. Out of this desire have sprung the many homages that pay tribute to our very own. In London, a certain neighbourhood cafe has been welcoming Filipinos and curious eaters from all around Battersea.
The entire concept, say founders David and Nigel Motley, is affixed to a memory that most Filipinos would have in their own remembrances. “Our Mum," they say, "told us stories of how our Lolo Ruperto would sit outside every morning with a strong cup of barako coffee and warm pandesal. As we got older, our curiosity of reliving this story became special, something we wanted to tell to others as we went on our own journey of discovery”.
As a family-run business, the entire concept of Kapihan embodies the warmth of Lolo Ruperto's own (quintessential) mug of barako. Through this, the Motley family aims to rediscover Filipino coffee, intersecting it with the British cafe culture that's made coffee, tea, and caffeine a quotidian necessity for most in the UK.
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Kapihan uses the finest ingredients and speciality coffee, all of which are sourced from the Philippines and brewed in Battersea. Each of their four blends is sourced from independent farms with whom the Motleys have cultivated a relationship as well.
Those who find themselves around this London neighbourhood may enjoy a cup of House Blend (toffee and malt), Bukidnon (peach tea and molasses), Sitio Bells (apricot and biscuit), or traditional Barako coffee (100 per cent liberica with notes of jackfruit and cacao). Signature drinks such as the Spanish Latte (an in-house blend of coconut caramel mix), Palawan Honey Latte (made with El Nido's delicious honey) and Malagos Mocha (made with award-winning chocolate from Davao) are also available. For those looking for a restful night, decaffeinated drinks such as Golden Milk (an interesting blend of turmeric, cinnamon, honey, and oat milk), Sikwate (Filipino hot chocolate), or Red Maple (oat milk, Saigon cinnamon, Rooibos tea shot, Vermont maple syrup) may be of interest.
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But obviously, these drinks are best paired with a treat on the side. Fortunately, the local panaderia, Rosemary Motley, has perfected her bakes through her experiences at The Dorchester and The Shard's Shangri-La Hotel. Using Filipino ingredients with European techniques, Rosemary Motley has created renditions of the pandesal, the pan de coco, the bibingka, and even a chocolate Spanish bread that's sure to delight. “We wanted to create a menu that truly exhibits the unique Filipino Panaderia staples," she explains. "Each bake is rich in taste and showcases the distinctive flavours of the Philippines”.
With all the heart that the Motleys have put into their cup of kape, it's become no mystery why people continue to patronise their humble Battersea branch—or why Eater London named it the city's "Most Innovative New Bakery" in 2019. But at the end of the day, all we can prove is that when someone frequents Kapihan, they aren't just there to pick up a cup of joe, it's likely they're there to sample a taste of home further away.
- Photography Kapihan