Kendo Creative, the quaint little shop was located in the last vestige of the Old Cubao, Cubao Expo. Kendo was a coffee bar, a retail shop, an art gallery, a craft room, a workshop venue, a date spot, a coworking space, an artists’ hub, a room of requirement and a safe space. The non-automatic door, which was often left ajar anyway, was open for everyone to come in and feel at home. The small, owner-run establishment stood out from the other local shops you would find in the area, with its hexagonal tables, white washed walls and bright lighting. It can be a bit baffling if one is used to the bustling nightlife culture which is what Cubao Expo is often known for these days.
The instant you walk in, the smell of coffee would greet you, along with a friendly “Hi, what can I get for you?” from behind the bar. Whether you came for coffee and cookies, or a craft soda, or perhaps to purchase a sticker or an odd trinket, there was always a spot here for individuals who — to put it simply — just needed it.
For the last few years, Kendo Creative has been home to the test bar for brewer Kayo Cosio. This photo is of a tasting experiment that Kayo put together which added a third cup to the classic duette service. Aside from the espresso and piccolo latte, a third cup is served containing either a complimentary or contrasting natural flavor. The third cup is intended to steer drinkers to be thoughtful during the drinking experience and see how such a basic pairing can affect the overall experience of the coffee. This particular pairing used Singapore’s Common Man Coffee Roasters’ Ethiopia Ardi and Valencia oranges.
While traveling, we were gifted with this sample of catimor coffee grown in Chang Mai, Thailand. Since we were not too familiar with the origin, we brewed the coffees with an open mind. We’ve recently been lucky to taste great coffees — even libericas and robustas — from Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, so we hoped to see great results from the neighboring Thailand too. Washed and sun dried, this Thai coffee was clean, balanced, and bright. Also bright? The future of South East Asian coffees growers.
In Kendo, we’ve seen customers become beloved friends. We’ve heard the fuzzy warm beginnings and also tearfully sad endings of love stories. Here, we’ve witnessed ideas that were sketched on scrap paper grow into full scale art projects forged in the real world.
But as of September 30th, due to complications with the property’s management, it is sad to say, the shop is no longer there. The door, no longer welcoming, lights are off and the room left bare. A shop like this is not likely to be seen again soon, yet the spirit lives on through the community Kendo Creative has built in the 45 months they’ve held ground in Cubao. Some may try to replicate it, and we do hope they achieve it. The world is in need of more safe spaces.