Some Salt in Your Café Latte? The ‘Starbucks’ of Taiwan has arrived.



Starbucks, Tully’s— all the big names in Seattle coffee are brewing in Taiwan. In fact more of them have opened shops there than in New York. But one local Taiwanese chain has been running circles around the Americans, and now it’s looking to challenge them on their home turf.

Bigger, better, cheaper than you-know-who.

85°C (named for coffee’s ideal brewing temperature) custom-brews each cup individually. You’ll find the usual espressos and frozen, blended drinks, plus some Asian-style bubble teas. The infamous salted coffee is their signature latte with sea salt whipped into the foam topping. It’s a subtle touch that teases out a little more coffee essence without adding saltiness.

Door-stop muffins, doughy scones; same old, same old.

85°C really steps up its game with on-site, full-service bakeries. There are familiar breads and pastries like fruited brioche, buttercream layer cakes, baguettes, croissants, cheesecakes, and danish. There are straight-out-of-China items like purple-marbled taro cakes and buns filled with red bean paste and dried pork. Then there are the cultural crossovers: tuna-filled danish, Vermont cheddar bread tinted black with squid ink, hot dogs encased in sugar-glossed pastry, served on their own or sliced onto pizza.

Don’t shake your head over squid ink in your bread and sea salt in your coffee. It’s not so long ago that a venti latte and a mocha frappuccino sounded exotic.

85°C’s first U.S. location, in Irvine, California, was an instant hit. Starbucks never saw lines like this. 85°C’s Yelp entry has attracted more than 1,000 reviews, a number unmatched by any other business submitted to the Orange County site. A second U.S. location opens later this year, timed to coincide with the first public offering of shares of 85°C stock.

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8 Responses to Some Salt in Your Café Latte? The ‘Starbucks’ of Taiwan has arrived.

  1. Kristina says:

    I live near the 85 in Irvine, and it’s delicious!
    The line for the bread is insane; it stretches out beyond the door about 50 feet during peak times.
    (And this isn’t mentioned in the article, but they sell individual slices and whole cakes that are too pretty to eat.)

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  3. Janice says:

    That is a taro cream-filled pastry topped with taro and yam slices and black sesame seeds. I am not normally a fan of taro, but 85C has a lighter than usual touch with it.

  4. Lindsey says:

    Sounds intriguing! May I ask, what is on the pastry in the above photo??

  5. Janice says:

    Let’s see how much they raise with the IPO. That will determine how quickly they expand. Vancouver is a natural for them.

  6. Aunt Mabel says:

    When will they be opening a store in Vancouver, BC? We have HUGE asian population and one Aunty who would die for a hot dog encased in sugar glossed pastry.

  7. Rick says:

    This looks so good!!!

  8. Wow, will have to check it out:)

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