In the early 90’s, while Boracay’s beaches started getting attention as among the world’s best, the mother and daughter tandem of Lee and Nadine Rosaia were busy cracking their secret recipe for calamansi muffins.

Lee, an Italian-American expat, first came in Boracay in 1989 when the island was all coconut trees, pristine beaches, a few people and a few establishments. Lee fell in love with Boracay and decided to stay for good. In 1996, she put up a café to serve what nobody else were serving: coffee, tea, pastries. She named it Real Coffee. Now, twenty plus years later, the competition is tougher. Even Starbucks has found its way to the island. But, even when almost everything has changed, Real Coffee has dared to keep the same taste and vibe that bring visitors the old, grand Boracay feels.

Books, Quotes, and Photos

It was almost 6 PM when we left our hotel to hunt down the word-of-mouth muffins of this café. We walked along the beach to Station 2 until we saw the Real Coffee signage. It’s on the second floor of Sea World Dive Center, right in front of the White Beach.

We took the stairs and we were greeted by a scene that reminded me of our home in the province. There’s no internet. No aircon. A TripAdvisor banner hangs on one side of the café. Everything was wood—chairs, tables, and shelves—and the walls are made of woven bamboo mats. There were books and magazines on the shelves. And everywhere you look, there were photos of the many visitors who have seen good times in the café. The jars of muscovado and cinnamon and pepper have handwritten labels.

Don’t believe everything you think. / When opportunity knocks answer the door. / There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle…the other is as though everything is a miracle.

Meet the Muffins

That was almost 7 PM, their closing time. Without second thoughts, we ordered real coffee and calamansi muffins, as though there was nothing else in their menu. From what I’ve learned from other travelers, this is the one food that’s uniquely Boracay. So, many ask their friends and relatives to take a box home for pasalubong. And many have tried to hack the recipe as did Pepper.PH and The Fat Kid Inside. When I finally got a bite of the muffins, I understood why. Moist and creamy golden brown muffins with just the right amount of tangy zest. They’re not just any muffin you’ll find in the neighborhood bakery.

Photo by Lena Oh, @lenatella

Photo by @jw.geraldine

“I went to Real Coffee because of their famous calamansi muffin. I still crave for it until now. I remember we were seated on the upper floor facing the beach, it was a nice place to chill. I always recommend this cafe for coffee break to friends and family who visit Boracay.”
Geraldine, Malaysia 

Photo by @sue_vela

“I stayed in Boracay for 13 days, and this was the place I went to almost everyday. The coffee was good, but what brought me back again and again was the calamansi muffins. I’ve never had such a delightfully sweet and sour dessert before. The best part was I got to enjoy the gorgeous view! I still miss Boracay to this day and Real Coffee is definitely one of the reasons.”
Sue, Malaysia 

Back for Breakfast

The next morning, we were back for breakfast. The café was full. We took the quiet spot in one corner where we could browse some magazines and enjoy the view of the beach. Lee was in the café that morning, she was very happy to show us the menu and drop hints of what could make us speechless. She didn’t say muffins, because she wanted us to taste something different.

After a few minutes, this is what we got on our table:

Jack’s Omelet With Pesto—Three eggs, tuna, onions, tomatoes, with toast and a twist of cheese and pesto. It was excellent! I haven’t tried pesto on omelet before so that was a good surprise.

Pancake With Fresh Fruits—Thick and large creamy pancake with watermelon, mango, banana, and pineapple on the side. It’s good for sharing.

We also had café mocha and homemade ginger tea.


All photos in this article, unless otherwise captioned, were taken with a smartphone. For this post, we banked on the power of Huawei Mate 9. Visit Huawei’s Facebook page for more details about their products.

The two instances we were at the café, everything was a pleasant experience. It’s definitely something we would recommend to friends visiting Boracay.

Until now, I don’t know exactly why it was named Real, although I’d like to believe that its name is straightforward. I remember Lee offering me take home one of the books in her shelf. That was so sweet and genuine. Then I thought to myself, even if many more changes happen in the landscape of Boracay, Real Coffee will be real.

2nd Floor, Sea World, Station 2
Boracay Island, Philippines
Contact #: (036) 288 5340
Opens 7 AM to 7 PM
Facebook: Real Cofee and Tea Café, Boracay Island


ArisMape is a travel insider at ABS-CBN's Choose Philippines. He loves orange, halo-halo, and PowerPoint, and hates beef, slow internet, and long taxi lines. His pastime is watching people watch other people. He swears on the power of smartphone. His half-life? Thirty.