Sunday, May 13, 2018

DINING | The Coffee Library in San Juan, La Union

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The 2nd floor of Surf Town's The Coffee Library.

Everyone seems to be flocking to La Union these days, San Juan in particular. Now where do you get your coffee fix there? El Union probably? But there's another coffee shop in the area, located right along the highway--The Coffee Library.

Interiors and ambiance
Unlike the carefree beach vibe of the more popular El Union, The Coffee Library is cut out of the same template as most coffee shops that it's easy to forget you're in Surf Town.

Wood, though light-toned, permeates the two-storey space, complemented well by its cream-colored walls where several Southeast Asian rugs are hung for decor. But unlike some cafes that espouse mood lighting and a little darkness, The Coffee Library is bright and airy, bookended by floor-to-ceiling glass windows that allow lots of natural light in. They also have outdoor sections on both front and rear of the cafe.

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The Coffee Library facade.

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Seating by the entrance, with the counter on the right.

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The space is bright and airy.

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At the garden at the back of the cafe. I'm just not sure if they also serve customers here.

The overall vibe is still relaxed but a little more polished than its San Juan counterparts. My main complaint, however, lies in the absence of a clean and decent restroom. It was just yuck.

Where to stay in San Juan, La Union?
Check out: Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel: Nice and hip place to stay in San Juan, La Union, BUT...

Food and service
The cafe offers Vietnamese, Filipino, Italian, and Turkish coffee, plus tea, frappes, chocolate, juices, and smoothies. We ordered Vietnamese coffee (Php 80) because we love it and thankfully it was good enough.

What's confusing about this place, though, is that it offers rice meals like pork chop, beef salpicao, and even kare-kare! I mean, the salads, sandwiches, and pasta may be normal coffee shop fare but kare-kare? They even have pizza and pho. What's good, however, is that they're reasonably priced.

Ironically it's in the dessert department where they're seriously lacking. You expect lots of pastries from a coffee shop but no, they only offer s'mores and a la mode versions of crispy suman, apple pie, and turon. That's it.

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Their take on a deconstructed s'mores dessert, turon a la mode, and Vietnamese coffee.

We tried their version of deconstructed s'mores (Php 95) and turon a la mode (Php 95). Sadly the former is not up to par with its San Juan neighbor. The chocolate wasn't melted thoroughly, which I blame on the type of dish they used, a ceramic bowl that was way too deep to afford a proper melt. The turon wasn't much of a delight either. The only saving grace was the Vietnamese coffee.

Service was just about right in terms of efficiency. Thank heavens they're not like the other restos in the area!

In hindsight
The Coffee Library is a fairly nice place for hanging out, however confused they are with the food that they serve. Well at least you have a go-to place when you're really hungry and want "real food." Even though it doesn't speak of a beach vibe you'd expect from a place like San Juan, it's still worth a try. For coffee at least. And oh, I hope they provide a proper restroom for customers.

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