Two brothers — trained in immigration and criminal law, and insurance underwriting, respectively — have opened one of London’s most innovative and impressive new cafe-bakeries. David and Nigel Motley, the British-Filipino siblings behind Kape and Pan, the now-closed, cult-followed central London brand (which moved from SOAS University to the Central Saint Giles development off Shaftesbury Avenue earlier this year), have a new flagship home: Kapihan, which means coffee house in Tagalog, on the edge of Battersea Park in south west London opened last month.
Kapihan’s unique brand of what they call the application of “European techniques to Filipino and Asian classics” produces a collection of immaculate breads and Viennoiserie, both sweet and savoury pastries. All efforts are now focused on Kapihan, but neither of the brothers have yet ruled out a return for Kape and Pan in the future.
Its location in the reception of the Google offices in central London didn’t work. As well as the offices being serviced with subsidised food, David said the was a lack of interest. “We had a pop up lease for the year, we filled eight months but decided it was yielding too little. It is the wrong concept for an office lobby...the office workers and that particular area of London is not really ready/interested in our speciality coffee with Asian bakes.” Favourites, like the kimchi croissant, will make an appearance at Kapihan at the weekend.
Though the brothers are the principle owners, their partners, Plams Motley and Rosemary Motley are integral to the business and the bakery; all four have different roles and responsibilities and speciality skillsets with regard to the range of bakes. David said that he and Plams wife are responsible for “the more native delicacies that do not require rise” while Nigel and Rosemary begin baking — those that do — at 1am each morning.
“It has taken a fair few years for Nigel and Rosemary to develop the croissant, brioche and pan de sal recipes, other recipes like adobo and pan de coco fillings we have developed from family recipes and elevated them further,” David told Eater at the cafe, shortly after it had opened. The cafe will also serve speciality coffee from the Philippines, in an overall bid to “show the best of the country to everyone,”
“Our approach is always to be simple, natural — sourdough, no colourings — local, use artisanal Filipino produce to give a taste of the Philippines, [with a] zero waste mind set.
“I guess you could say we apply European techniques to Filipino and Asian classics,” he said.
Take a look around.
The counter top was designed and crafted by Fred Dobson of Tatara Workshop from a single Ash tree, according to a specialised Japanese technique, which uses a kanna (or plane). (Dobson designed the counter at Popham’s in Islington.)
Filipino artworks hang on the walls of the bright space.
The “chocolate churro” incorporates the “wild, fruity, boozy” Malagos chocolate, for which Kapihan is the exclusive U.K. and European ambassador. It also includes cinnamon sugar.
Pan de coco uses a very rich sourdough brioche base. “Traditionally it’s a simple white bread but we infuse with real leaf pandan extract,” David said. “The sweet cream filling is usually minced up into a paste, but we enjoy texture so instead use young coconut strings (macapuno) and marinate in a sweet cream.”
Finally, the savoury highlight: pan de adobo. A mix of pork belly and shoulder is cooked with soy, vinegar, garlic, and bay leaf and stuffed inside the standard pan de sal — literally “salt bread” — which is a little sweet itself. It is an exercise in richness, tang, and umami.