Dec 23, 2016

In the bustling, crowded landscape of Makati City, Jessica Lee is a breath of fresh air. She’s the co-founder and owner of Yardstick, a coffee company set on introducing the concept of third wave coffee to the Philippines.

Third wave coffee is a movement to create, promote and prioritize high-quality coffee, and advocate the drink as more than a commodity.  It aims to establish coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, similar to wine and craft drinks.

Jessica in the Jessica Top in Green Printed by Patty Ang x AVA. 

“We wanted to introduce the concept here in the Philippines since we believe that Filipinos have a strong appreciation for good quality coffee.  Plus, we had an inkling that the third wave coffee concept will be warmly accepted by the Philippine coffee market,” she shares.  “I foresee that the third wave coffee industry here in the Philippines [will grow] upwards steadily.”

Yardstick is Jessica’s pride and joy, and it’s clear she’s very passionate about what she does.  A graduate from the Singapore Management University and an innovative entrepreneur-on-the-rise, she reminisces, “I am most proud of starting my own business, with no experience whatsoever in the F&B industry, at the ripe age of 26.  I remember actually opening and closing Yardstick everyday.  We only had one barista at that time since we couldn’t afford more than one, and [my partners and I] just had to help each other.  We had to mop the floor everyday, clean the espresso machine, wash dishes, bus out plates and glasses, and to be honest, I loved it.  It made me get to know our customers even more.  Even if Yardstick has already grown, I still look back happily to those moments – moments I will truly cherish and remember fondly.”

Yardstick is also a merging of Jessica’s two passions: introducing artisanal coffee to the Filipino people, and making them happy.  She says, “I really like helping people. It brings me joy to know that I am able to contribute to one’s success or happiness.  This is the core value that Yardstick stands for.  A great day often roots with a great start in the morning.  We would like to believe that our coffee shop with its good quality products, our ever-so-cheerful and accommodating culture, and cozy ambiance helps lift the spirit of our customers – a modest reminder that life is good!”

Jessica in the Jessica Top in Green Printed by Patty Ang x AVA. 

Coffee, especially good-quality coffee, has been found to have many healthy short- and long-term effects including but not limited to increased energy levels, improved physical performance, and lower risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer.  But at Yardstick, it’s not just the coffee that’s beneficial; it’s also the unmistakable happiness customers get from a warm, welcoming and cheerful place.  This refreshing positivity is something very much needed in the country – and the world – today.

“Whenever I look at my Facebook feed, I see a lot of negativity,” she says, adding, “people arguing about various opinions.  If there is one thing I can change, I would inject more positivity in our society.”

If there’s one thing Jessica can offer to make the current landscape a little brighter, it’s the delightful experience and rich coffee at Yardstick.  The coffee shop, too, is as warm and friendly as she is.  It offers an open and inviting atmosphere, designed to make sure customers can talk to the barista, other customers, artists working in the bar, and even the founders themselves, who often frequent the café.

“I am excited about the whole experience for the customer. From the time the customers enter the shop to the time they leave, that whole experience is what is really important to me,” she says.  “Customers leaving with a smile is what excites me the most.”

Jessica in the Jessica Top in Green Printed by Patty Ang x AVA.

Beyond the café, however, Jessica’s a busy girl with dreams of making the Philippines a better place as well.  She’s also a product and development manager at Chevrolet Philippines.

“I am part of a team that manages the Chevrolet products that are brought into the country,” she explains.  “Given the current daily commute challenges that we Filipinos encounter, it is essential that we bring in good quality cars that provide dependable performance, comfort, convenience, and of course a design that fits the consumers’ personality and lifestyle.  Somehow, these attributes help [us] endure the daily traffic grind.”

While she’s got a penchant for saving the community in her own little way, her passion has always been in delivering smiles to her customers.  Jessica cites this as her greatest achievement, and is well on her way to brightening up the lives of Filipinos everywhere.