IN January this year, I was scrolling through my Facebook page when I saw this post by a friend of a coffee stall in Davao City.
The coffee stall, named Life Cycle Coffee, was located in Langub. An area of Davao City which I have not been to. But it looked really cool, and I wanted to visit it. During this time, the coffee stall still does not have an official Facebook page. So, I had to message the original user who posted the photos — its owner, Sanji.
Since there is no jeep route to Langub, I politely asked my friend to drive me there. We went there at around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.
When my friend and I were on our way to Life Cycle Coffee, we mistakenly thought that the lechon manokan after the Vistaview restaurant was the coffee stall. With its lights, it did look like a coffee stall from afar (LOL).
Since the streetlights in the area were off during our first visit, we had to keep a keen eye on the coffee shop. Then, we saw it. A small coffee stall outside a large gate. The stall is lighted with a lamp and a string of lights around it. In front of the lamp were two tables with some stools and a small bench. There was also a golf cart beside it.
When my friend and I got out of the car, I could remember seeing the curious but excited faces of Sanji, his wife, and his mom. To me, it seemed that they were not expecting customers traveling all the way up here during the first few days of their opening.
Anyway, we were warmly welcomed by an excited yet nervous Sanji. On that first visit, I ordered the Shiro Blend, their signature drink. My friend had a pour-over coffee.
That first sip of Shiro Blend was glorious! I think it was one of the best coffee-based drinks I had in a long time. It was simply a delicious drink. I took a sip of the pour-over coffee my friend had, and it was good too.
What really won me over during our first visit was the vibe. While we took a sip of our coffee, songs by Japanese artists were in the background. I found myself just relaxing. Next thing we know, an hour and a half has passed. My friend and I settled our bill and left. We loved the experience so much that we decided to return here again.
Three days later, my friend and I visited Life Cycle Coffee again. This time, we brought another friend with us.
For the second visit, I ordered the Japanese Drip, which was also good. I could not help myself and ordered Shiro Blend too.
I noted a few changes they made around the stall. There are more plants now, while an umbrella was added for one of the tables.
It was also here where we learned more about Sanji and how he started the coffee stall. Sanji was a home-brewer who was on the lookout for quality coffee. Starting from coffee shop chains, he eventually grew to appreciate and love specialty coffee until he began brewing it himself.
It is also interesting to discover that Sanji started out with two tables inside their mini-store. Then, they made a makeshift shed outside their gate where he had his coffee stall. Eventually, they built the coffee stall that we know and love today. All the wood used for it is repurposed lumber or wooden planks. If my memory serves me right, parts of the roof were from the stage they used to perform on. The small decors that added character to the stall were also items found around the house.
We also learned the inspiration of the name “Life Cycle.” In a nutshell, Life Cycle was inspired by Sanji’s father, who was a Keirin racer. Keirin is a form of cycle racing in Japan. The name highlights how coffee is part of our life — it keeps us going while still alive, but once we pass on, we are like coffee grounds that also go back to the ground.
Time flew quickly as the four of us chatted about coffee and Life Cycle Coffee. It was almost curfew, and we had to leave.
After this visit, we found ourselves coming here more often, especially at the end of the week.
Slowly, they added more items to their menu.
They had this non-coffee drink called 4-9-2, which is a cacao drink. I order this when I have had too much coffee before coming to Life Cycle Coffee. I love how this chocolate drink was not extremely sweet. Sanji shared that the drink was named after his father’s number when he was still competing as a Keirin racer.
Then they introduced their version of the Spanish latte and called it Sweet Latte. It was a latte with condensed milk. This was also a good drink.
Their food is one of the most exciting things they added to the menu. Given their Japanese background, the Japanese food they introduced was based on home recipes. The food is also made mostly from scratch like they make their own noodles or broth. Sanji shared that these were the food that his mom would prepare for his father.
To date, my favorite here is the Chicken Teriyaki. It was simply delicious. I just like how tender and the chicken was while the teriyaki sauce was flavorful.
The Okonomiyaki is also good here. Tasty and generously filled with vegetables. The serving size is good for three persons.
Their latest hit here is the ramen. From the noodles to the broth, Sanji makes it himself with the help of a relative and a friend. They currently have two variants the Hakata-style ramen and its spicy version. I like their ramen, especially the noodles. The noodles were bouncy and the chashu (Japanese braised pork belly) was very tender. The ramen itself was also flavorful.
Another item that they offered for a time was the yakisoba, which was also good. While it is currently not back on the menu, Sanji shared that it will make a comeback soon.
Recently, they introduced the melon pan, which is always sold out every time I go there. Paw, Sanji’s wife, shared that the bread is not out of the oven yet, but it is already sold out.
Aside from the coffee and the food, what draws me back to them is their overall vibe. I simply love the friendly vibe the coffee shop gives off. They send a message that if you come here, you get to simply enjoy your cup of coffee while you relax.
Despite being in Langub, I also like their location. Langub is a quiet and quick escape from the busy downtown area of the city. While there may be limited phone signal, I kind of like it. At least, for a few hours, I get to escape the digital noise.
It is also fun to see that the once quiet-looking coffee stall has gained more personality after a “Life Cycle” signage was added to it. They also invested in a better grinder and espresso machine that could fit in the stall. A bit of the earlier decors remain like the maneki-neko (beckoning cat), which seems to greet me every time I visit the coffee shop. Not being superstitious, but that cat did “beckon” a wave of customers to Life Cycle Coffee.
In less than a year, it is amazing to see Life Cycle Coffee’s growth. It started as a humble coffee stall in Langub that has now become a destination coffee shop in Davao City. Their small menu of coffee has also expanded to include some meals and snacks.
Since discovering them in January, I have become a regular here. Aside from good coffee and food, I think the reason that I love coming back here is the vibe and the community. Life Cycle Coffee just gives off this friendly and chill aura that makes you want to order a bottle of Shiro blend and enjoy a plate of Teriyaki Chicken.
DETAILS and LOCATION
Business hours: 2:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Last order 8:30 p.m.)
Check out my Kape Ta! Coffee Shop Guide in Davao City for more coffee shops. Click here to go to the post.