The Renaissance: Where coffee imitates art

·3 min read

Renaissance. As a noun, it means rebirth or re-awakening. It also pertains to a significant period in history for literature and the arts. But for Cebu, it finds a new meaning, albeit similar in some ways.

The newest addition to the city’s growing community of cafes, The Renaissance Art + Coffee is a coffee shop-cum-art gallery that aims not only to serve great coffee but also showcase works by local creatives.

A business venture and passion project of Adrian Madarieta, The Renaissance officially opened its doors on June 15. Madarieta, who has worked as a barista for a local coffee chain, wanted to bring together his love for coffee and appreciation for art.

While it’s named after his favorite era in art history, to Madarieta, “The Renaissance” also seemed like a fitting name to encapsulate the shared experience of being “rebirthed“ during the pandemic. For him, it’s “a reminder that we are resilient creatures.”

The cafe offers both the classic coffee-based beverages such as the latte and caramel macchiato, as well as The Renaissance Signatures, a line-up of house specials consisting of eight unique conceptual concoctions inspired by iconic 14th to 16th century artworks—treats both to the eyes and palate.

A must-try is the Kanagawa, inspired by “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Japanese artist Hokusai, an iced latte with butterfly pea flower syrup at the bottom and a secret vanilla bean cream recipe on top. Non-coffee drinkers can opt for the Primavera, a refreshing hibiscus tea-based drink served over ice with chia seeds and pomegranate boba, named after Sandro Botticelli’s work.

Should one be in a peckish mood, The Renaissance House Special makes for a perfect pairing. Made with ham, salami, mayo, lettuce, bell pepper and onion in between ciabatta bread, this is a take on the La Favolosa sandwich from All’Antico Vinaio, a popular shop in Florence, Italy.

On the gallery side of things, The Renaissance is open to artists of any medium. So far, The Renaissance has showcased works by Bambi Beltran and Tapok Art Group, who currently has an exhibition at the cafe in collaboration with Dispensilya Sugbo, wherein 50 percent of artwork sales go to the community pantry held outside the cafe every weekend.

More than just a business venture, The Renaissance is also a social enterprise. A portion of the sales from every beverage, artwork and merchandise is allocated to The Renaissance Artist Fund, which will be utilized to provide materials for underprivileged artists.

By now, it’s clear that The Renaissance is not your run-of-the-mill coffee joint. Sure, you can come here for a snap-worthy beverage and have a bite, but ultimately, you’re also supporting a local business that pays it forward and provides a space for up-and-coming artists in the community to be seen.

Being just over a month old, the business is taking things slow, one drink and exhibition at a time. But expansion is in the list of long-term goals for sure; after all, The Renaissance is just getting started.

The Renaissance Art + Coffee is located at 124 Gorordo Ave., Cebu City (adjacent to Kukuk’s Nest), open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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