IRVINE, CALIF. — The western half of the United States has seen a boom in a particular bakery cafe in recent years, one that many refer to as the Starbucks of Taiwan. If this Taipei export can achieve even a portion of the success of its American counterpart, it may be the next big thing in retail.
85C Bakery Café is a chain of over 25 bakery locations stateside, and more than 300 locations in Taiwan. Part of the reason it has been able to branch out so successfully is due to its concept.
Customers grab a tray and tongs, and add pastries from the cases. There is a huge selection, ranging from chocolate bread to potato and cheese puff pastries. The bakery has a strong Asian influence in its menu, but also includes European influences as well.
One of 85C Bakery Café’s top items this time of year is its mooncakes. Mooncakes are a staple of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a harvest festival that this year is celebrated in early October. These traditional Chinese products consist of round pastries with a range of fillings. Typically, they have a red bean or lotus paste, but 85C Bakery Café also has taro mochi, roasted pork, walnut date, pineapple, and more.
Another reason for 85C Bakery Café’s success is its sea salt coffee. 85C Sea Salt Coffee is espresso, ice, sugar, full-fat cream, with sea salt, which the company claims brings out the flavor of the coffee. For health-conscious coffee drinkers, omitting the sugar will not hurt the flavor too much, either.
While the sea salt coffee has been a part of 85C Bakery Café’s success for years, the coffee craze has risen to the point where unique flavors of the brew are starting to catch on with American consumers.
“It’s really unique,” said Stephanie Peng, manager of the company's flagship U.S. store in Irvine. “The sea salt is in the cream, the foam part, so it just brings out more coffee essence.”
The company has grown out of its flagship location and expanded throughout California, and into the states of Washington and Texas. Soon, other states could join in on one of the fastest growing businesses in the country. In fact, it was recently named as the 18th fastest-growing small concept restaurant in the United States.The name 85C refers to the temperature at which its founders believe is optimal for coffee to hold its flavor.