Decades have passed yet they survived.
Over generations, businesses come and go in Iloilo but two coffee shops withstand the test of time.
As modern coffee shops trail for customers in every possible location, in the mall, offices, schools, and even in hospitals; two of Iloilo’s oldest family-run ‘”kapihan” married the soil of the city’s public markets.
Veronica Camayodo, a Madge employee shows the traditional way of brewing coffee using ‘culador’ or a net.
Since 1951, Madge Café has been brewing for its loyal customers at the heart of La Paz Public Market.
Vicente de la Cruz, the first owner of the shop named it to Madge as a sign of his love for his wife and hands-on business partner, Magdalena.
The business was then passed on to his son, Gerardo in 1977. Because of Gerardo’s passing in 2003, his wife, Julieta took over the business with their five children, including Peter.
Now, Peter runs the family business with the same legacy of service.
Born with marketing skills, Peter introduced innovations in the shop as a form of gratitude for their customers.
What is striking upon entering the typical looking shop are the layers of coffee mugs engraved with the names of its loyal customers that compliments the buzzing sounds of people of varied age brackets talking about politics, business and anything under the sun.
Madge coffee mugs engraved with the names of their loyal customers.
Though without the amenities offered by other modern coffee shops – no air condition, no spacious interior but Madge takes pride on its product quality.
Brewed in traditional way using the net called “culador,” the richness of the locally made coffee is served in every cup.
Apart from serving the best for its patronizers, Madge also helps in spurring the local coffee industry.
Unlike other branded coffee labels, Madge served roasted coffee harvested from the parts of Northern Iloilo particularly from Calinog and Lambunao and some parts of Guimaras Island.
As generations passed, Madge has also changed the misconception that native coffee is only for the old ones.
“Even the young already love native coffee,” Peter said.
Serving about 200 customers daily for more than half a century now, Peter believed that what makes Madge stand out from the rest is the quality of service they offered.
Ilonggos from all walks of life share lively discussions inside Madge Cafe.
“Put your customers always as your priority,” he advised to others.
Ranging only from P25 to P30, every customer can enjoy mild or strong, in either hot or cold cup of coffee.
Still single, Peter said that the Madge will never run out of coffee as the legacy will be passed on to other members of the family when he retires.
To reach more coffee lovers, Madge Cafe opened a new branch along Diversion Road, Benigno Aquino Avenue in 2012.
Despite the presence of some air-conditioned coffee shops and refreshment establishment in the area, coffee lovers still prefer the Madge Cafe ambience, a place where people could talk over a cup of coffee.
Another long standing coffee shop in the city is the Deleonian Kapihan at the Central Market.
Deleonian Kapihan at Central Public Market.
Started by Carmencita Chua in the 1960s, the coffee shop retained its glory in providing every Ilonggo with strong rich coffee all throughout the day.
Now being run by her granddaughter Rochelle Basañes, the Delenion continue to serve, not just its loyal patrons but also their sons and daughters.
Since her takeover in 2006, Basañes believed that the relationship they established with the costumers help them thrive in the business.
“Even generations of customers enjoyed our coffee,” the 33-year old woman said.
Just like Madge, Deleonian also served locally produced native coffees.
Apart from the quality of their brew, Deleonian also boasts its cheap price.
A cup of coffee only costs to P13 and P15 when it comes with a creamier.
But what makes them unique also is its advocacy for the environment.
Instead of the usual Styrofoam cups, customers who take out their coffee have it in a can.
Instead of throwing their used cans of milk creamier, Deleonian recycle it as cups for takeout orders.
Serving to more than 100 customers daily, Basañes said that as long as she can, she will continue the legacy her grandmother left.
Also venturing in a refreshment business named, Monster Frost, Basañes believed that a good customer relationship is a key to a successful business.
“Keep them, by serving them right,” she said.
Just like a cup of coffee that rejuvenates the senses, Madge and Deleonian Kapihan reminds us that despite the modernism in the city of love, Iloilo will always have its own distinct taste.* (Karen V. Bermejo)