Dennis Tan, who co-owns Matea’s Cafe with his wife, handles the business operations.
Who handles the accounting side and the paperwork? His wife.
Who manufactures the tablea used in their drinks? The sister-in-law.
Who crafts the beverages? The barista cousin.
Who makes the cakes in the pastry display? The baker cousin.
Who cooks the food and serves the customers? The couple’s close friends.
Who ensures that the plants in their alfresco rooftop are well taken care of? The plantita mother-in-law.
Who is Matea? His wife’s grandmother.
Family collaboration is the secret of the warmth and deliciousness of what Matea’s Cafe has to offer. Located in Alfonso, Cavite, it’s a nice stop for coffee on the way to or on your way home from Tagaytay. “Most of our customers are not from Alfonso. Mostly ay from Tagaytay, and from nearby towns such as Mendez and Bailen. Meron din taga Alfonso pero mostly [from] nearby towns talaga,” shares Dennis, who formerly worked as a hotel and restaurant professional for eight years.
Matea’s Cafe is named after his wife’s grandmother, Matea. Tracing their beginnings from their local Alfonso cacao industry and their family business, Dennis shares that the cafe was born out of their wanting to offer items that are ready-to-drink and ready-to-eat.
“Before kasi nagtatanim din [ang family] ng coffee, mga 1980s. One product, one town [kasi dito sa Cavite]. Ang Alfonso ay known for Cacao or Tablea. ‘Yung sister-in-law ko manufactures tablea here. So naisipan namin, why not gumawa tayo ng coffee shop…” Dennis shares. “Tutal malapit kami sa schools. So yun talaga yung target market namin… Mga students. Kaya yung coffee namin…hindi ganun kamahal. ‘Yung mga food, afford talaga ng mga students,” he continues. “Until ngayon, wala pa ring Face-to-Face Classes dito sa amin so ayun, nakakasurvive pa rin, marami pa ring customers.”
Matea’s Cafe was initially poised to open in 2020. However, due to the challenges of the start of the pandemic, they decided to move the opening day to March 8, 2021.
The cafe owners are proud of the collaboration involved in running the cafe. Dennis proudly shares how they are able to work with family members and friends in making sure that each component of the business is well taken care of. From paperwork to operations, from the kitchen to table, and from dining to the airy alfresco dining!
“DIY na halos lahat. This is family owned… Yung cousin [ng wife ko], barista namin. Yung chefs and servers namin, mga close friends din namin. Collaboration among family and friends,” Dennis explains.
“Yung management ng staff, ako… Saka how to run the business. Then sa pagfa-file ng mga tax, di na kasi kami kumukuha ng mga bookkeeper kasi ang laki rin ng bayad sa kanila. So, yung wife ko, since nasa accounting side siya, siya na rin ang gumagawa.”
Matea’s Cafe not only serves good coffee, but also has cakes such as cheesecakes, barako cheesecake, and carrot cake as their bestsellers. “[Yung] cakes, cousin ko gumagawa, tiga-Mandaluyong siya,” shares Dennis. Plus, he says their must-try burger patty is made of 100% beef, no extenders.
“Raw materials such as vegetables [for the food] and [raw materials for] coffee ay galing sa Alfonso, we help din ang aming local farmers,” says Dennis.
Their cafe is in its stand-alone building, which also houses their Tablea manufacturing. On its upper floor is their rooftop garden, where customers can also enjoy chilly weather especially in the afternoon to evening. “Ung space dito [sa harap] ay maliit namin na dining. Before, may tent kami sa labas, al fresco namin sa labas. Kaya lang pag umuulan, laging nasisira ‘yung tent. So nagpagawa kami sa taas, ng alfresco,…Tutal naka-ready naman siya, mas madali kami nakapaglagay ng dining [doon]. Ang mother in law ko is a plantita, so maraming plants doon na pleasing naman sa eyes. Parang rooftop garden.”
As a first time cafe owner during the pandemic, Dennis admitted that he was nervous before they opened. “Hindi namin alam kung magiging successful ba kami or babagsak… or meron ba kaming magiging guests… Pero awa ng Diyos meron namang mga regular customers na kami… binabalikan na rin, kilala na kami… So consistent lang kami sa aming mga coffee offerings, sa aming food service…. then kung anong ginagawa namin dati sa work namin [sa resto industry], ina-apply namin dito,” he shares.
Since he wanted to succeed, he knew he needed a machine and supplier that he can always count on. It was in his former work that he discovered the quality espresso machines of La Cimbali. “Sa work ko here and abroad. We were using La Cimbali kasi,” he says. So he looked for a local supplier of his trusted brand and found Blu Coffee, La Cimbali’s official distributor in the Philippines.
“Maganda ung machine, reliable. ‘Di ka ipapahiya. Malakas ung traffic ng orders namin kaya niya,” Dennis shares.
What’s the machine without quality supplies? Since Dennis wants the same quality of products, Dennis also gets his supplies from Blu Coffee. “Yung mga products nila… the syrups… Da Vinci.. Malaking tulong na makakita kami ng supplier na mas mababa ang price compared sa [ino-offer ng] iba. As a cafe owner, makakatipid ka talaga nang malaki. One stop shop din,” he says. As a cafe owner, he also values convenience and reliability, as machines can also act up sometimes, which will affect the operations no matter what day of the week it is. “[Ang Blu Coffee ay] very convenient. Isang message mo lang, sasagot agad. Kahit gabi, kahit holiday. Sumasagot agad pag nag-memessage ako sa kanila.”
Like Dennis, you can also turn your dream coffee business into a reality. If you read this today, maybe it’s the sign you’re waiting for! Call your fellow coffee lover friend or family and inquire at Blu Coffee!
PS. Dennis of Matea’s Cafe has a message for you: “Wag kayong susuko. Kung ano ang gusto niyo, don’t give up. Kahit pandemic, kahit mahirap ang buhay ngayon. Go lang. Kaya natin yan!”