Jean & Juv’s Coffee House: Where Ilonggos Feel Like Home

Cris Antonio |

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The Scottish politician and historian Sir James Mackintosh once said: ‘The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks.’ If this is true, no wonder Ilonggos are so creative, talented, and passionate.

A true blue Ilonggo can drink an average of two to three cups a day. It can be iced, hot, strong, mild, with milk, or sugar. Preferences will vary. But perhaps the one thing that doesn’t change is where you can get the best brew in town. 

For that, you’ll need to follow your nose to Brgy. Baldoza, Lapaz. Inside a modest coffee shop, hardly touched by time and known by its regulars, is Mrs. Jean J. Dela Cruz: owner of Jean & Juv’s Coffee House. And she makes one of the best-tasting coffee drinks in Iloilo City.

For the Love of Traditional Coffee…

Formerly known as RJ’s Kapehan, the humble shop on the roadside has been catering to coffee lovers since 1954. Back then it was a small stand she manned together with her late husband, Mr. Romeo Dela Cruz. As one of the sons of the owner of Madge (also a well-known Ilonggo coffee house), Romeo definitely knew the secret to the perfect brew. 

The small eatery served passengers from the old Panay Railways. As it ran from Lapaz, passing Jaro, Pavia, Santa Barbara, Pototan, all the way to Roxas City in Capiz, word spread far about the little shop with the signature blend. 

Romeo taught everything he knew to his wife. Even before, Jean was the one behind the scenes, roasting and brewing the grounds until thick steam sometimes enveloped the kitchen. As their business grew, it was she who taught franchisees on how to make the Ilonggos’ favorite hot drink.

When Romeo passed away this year, Jean decided to rename the eatery to Jean & Juv’s Coffee House. Juv is her sister who manages their online presence as well as helps around the shop. "My family loves coffee, and we all know how to make it." Jean says.

Why Ilonggos Can’t Get Enough of Native Coffee

Jean lives by three simple, yet effective principles. First, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Second, "don't let go of traditional methods." Lastly, "have faith". She says these three lessons have helped her overcome some of the most challenging moments in her life. She may seem like a woman of a few words; but that’s only because she lets the coffee do all the talking.

One of the reasons why customers love their blend is their commitment to quality. Their recipe has not changed since Romeo taught it to her decades ago. They begin by roasting the coffee grounds on-site. This ensures a fresh brew with a unique flavor profile. It also keeps costs low.

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According to Jean: "People are always curious about how our coffee is prepared because of the heavy steam in the kitchen. Sometimes they’d inquire, and I tell them it really should be roasted. You should see more steam evaporating. If there’s a lot of steam, that’s the best time to serve the coffee."

The concoction isn’t boiled directly over the flame but is steamed. The final product is sieved through fine cheesecloth and then poured into glass mugs. The deep, earthy aroma can be smelled from the kitchen, awakening your senses as soon as it hits your nostrils. Then you know your coffee is ready. 

You can choose from Regular, Strong, or Mild blends. You can have it hot or iced, too. To sweeten, take your pick from raw brown sugar, white sugar, or the Ilonggo favorite, muscovado for a syrupy flavor. Want to make coffee at home? They offer coffee powder at highly affordable prices. 

Jean personally likes her coffee black. "I drink around three to four cups a day. Even when I sleep, I say: wait, I need to make some coffee first. My husband used to say, what's wrong with you? You’re about to sleep, and you won't be able to. But I can still sleep."

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Jean & Juv’s Coffee Legacy

After more than 65 years, Ilonggos still know where to go for their daily caffeine fix.

The unassuming bamboo door on the roadside of Brgy. Baldoza may not look like much at first. But it’s always open to coffee lovers from every generation. From politicians to businessmen, students, or couples – there’s a seat for you here. If the simple atmosphere doesn’t make you relax, then Jean’s warm and friendly demeanor will.

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While the name may have changed, their passion for making the best cup of coffee hasn’t. Today, Jean & Juv’s Coffee House continues to delight customers by serving delectable lunch meals. 

There’s dinuguan (Filipino blood stew), fried or grilled fish, laswa (boiled vegetable soup), and adobong pusit (squid cooked using adobo method), to name a few. Pair these with their signature iced coffee and you’ve got a happy tummy.

Did we make you hungry? Visit Jean & Juv’s Coffee House at Brgy. Baldoza Lapaz Zone 1 for native coffee and Ilonggo delicacies. You can also order through Foodpanda delivery.

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Cris Antonio

Cris Antonio is a freelance Copywriter, Editor, and Speaker. If she’s not writing or editing, she helps business owners and young adults build their presence on the Web.