The saying "Honesty is the best policy" now sounds like a broken record. However, it is one of the truest quotes there is, especially in a store located in Batanes, Philippines.
The Honesty Coffee Shop is an "honesty store" located in the Philippines' northernmost island.
People ranging from locals and tourists come into the small hut to buy necessities and have to fend for themselves because no one mans the shop.
People not only put their honesty to the test but also their morals in this seaside hut. Ivatan owners Elena and Jose Gabilo only come to the quaint coffee shop to restock their drinks and snacks but they don't do the cashier work. In a café where there is no cashier or barista, people are trusted to pay for what they get.
The store is decorated with signs such as "get what you need, pay for what you need," and "this store is too small for dishonest people" to remind its customers.
The store was born out of necessity. The café was brought to life because its owners knew that people who crossed the sea by a small boat needed hot water to drink. According to the store's history written on its wall, Elena dreamt that when they would retire, she would set a table equipped with hot water and coffee for the people to drink after their journey.
The original store built in the 1990s only had sugar, coffee, and hot water every morning. There was also a stove for people who wanted to cook rice or heat up additional water. Elena would only go to the store in the morning to prepare and pick up its earnings and clean by 5:00 p.m. Already on its 23rd year, the store has proven that honesty is good for business.
Apart from the vibrant hues of blue and green which looks worthy of a desktop background, the town, also known as one of the top places to visit in the Philippines, also boasts its zero crime rate.
How To Purchase
The rules of the coffee shop hang on its wall. It is self-service, so after people get what they need, they pay for it at the designated area. People who have change need to knock next door to get it, and if no one answers, they'll just have to give more than the price.
After, its customers need to list whatever they bought in a logbook. If they fancy leaving a note, they can also sign up in the guestbook where they can give messages to the owners and other visiting tourists.
How To Go There
From Basco Airport, people can reach the town proper by renting a tricycle for only $4, where they can reach the famous Honesty Coffee Shop in 30 to 40 minutes. Tourists may also rent a motorbike or join tours that make a stop at the thatched-roof store located along National Road, Ivana, Batanes.