It takes a special kind of snowflake to truly, madly, deeply fall in love with Subspace Coffee House. The moment I stepped in, I looked up to see chairs roped and bolted to the ceiling, making me feel like a modern-day Alice venturing into Wonderland. Soon after, I lost my fellow adventurer, Kevin, to a display of Mighty Muggs vinyl-plastic toys on the counter shelves. Somewhere in between, owner and certified geek Thor Balanon asks us if we wanted Finn and Jake art on our custom-made Adventure Time lattes. And then I felt so completely, strangely at home.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
“It all began with Space Encounters,” Thor shares. “It’s a mid-century modern furniture store that a lot of our clients would mistake as a café. During a trip to Seoul, we checked out their art district, and really liked their aesthetic when it came to designing café. That led us to realize that it was about time to put up a café.”
Located at Grand Emerald Tower in Ortigas Center
From a business point of view, Subspace is able to cross-promote Space Encounters. All the (charmingly mismatched) furniture in the café is from their mother company—including the chairs on the ceiling, which is an artwork inspired by the concept of zero gravity, as there is no gravity in space. “It caters to two of our primary passions,” Thor adds. “Coffee and Korean pop. K-pop fans love hanging out here because we sell merchandise and sometimes, hold K-pop nights here.”
The first order of business was the Purple Potato Latte (P125 – Hot; P140 – Cold), Thor’s personal favourite from Seoul. When business at the counter isn’t hectic, customers can request for a custom-made latte art. Being big fans of Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time, Kevin and I asked for a design featuring Finn and Jake. To our delight, our latte art, meant to fit a pair, featured the ever-famous fistbump. “No two Finn and Jake latte arts are ever the same,” Thor says proudly. “We make it different each time.” This particular drink, which is absolutely delicious and is now a personal favourite, also made them famous online. Author John Green found and retweeted the photo of Subspace’s now famous “Okay?” / “Okay” latte art inspired by Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” novel.
Purple Potato Latte
Kevin’s favourite, the Peanut Butter Latte (P120 – Hot; P145 – Cold), was also served for us to try. I’m not a big fan of peanut butter, but I love Subspace’s take on it because the drink is subtle in sweetness. It also takes a bit more effort to do latte arts with this because the colour is very light. For a cold drink (both our lattes were served hot), we had Subspace’s version of a Mocha Frappuccino (P135).
Peanut Butter Latte
Our main course was The Big Bang Waffle (P170), which has the honour of being the dish with the most bacon at the best possible price that I have ever had in my life. “People usually look for the bacon within the waffle,” Thor laughs, “but in our case, you look for the waffle within the bacon.” For bacon lovers, this really is the cream of the crop—two kinds of bacon sandwiched between layers of waffle and ham, and garnished with a special sauce and tomatoes really makes it the bacon waffle that reigns supreme. I’m crazy about this, and I would go back again and again just to have it in my belly from time to time.
The Big Bang Waffle
The dessert waffle served to us was the Double Green Tea (P155), another flavour that strikes my fancy. What makes this waffle so unique is that even the base itself is green tea. Basically, you end up with a green tea waffle topped with green tea ice cream, whipped cream, some sweet sauce and Koren chocolate snacks on the side. Fantastic. We also had a slice of their Red Velvet Cake (P110 per slice), which has become a classic favourite among many customers.
Double Green Tea
Red Velvet Cake
Subspace Coffee House is geek paradise found. Parts of Thor’s toy collections line the shelves, and amusing knickknacks such as a Les Miserables lamp and stairwell grills give the shop a distinctive, rustic feel. Doctor Who fans will be pleased to see a “Learn to drive, doctor” note on the chalk walls, the only graffiti that Thor has ever preserved. Regular customers in search of a coffee house will definitely stay for the food and drinks, but we geeks stay for the food, drinks, conversations and culture.
Additional images courtesy of Subspace Coffee House.