I first discovered 85° C Bakery Cafe while visiting Taipei for Computex. In Taiwan, 85° C Bakery Cafes are like Starbucks – they’re everywhere. The company got its name because 85° C is the perfect drinking temperature to enjoy a cup of coffee. 85° C is largest coffee franchise in Taiwan, with nearly 300 stores. However, there’s only one 85° C Bakery Cafe in North America and it’s located at the Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center in Irvine, California.
The first 85° C Bakery Cafe opened in Bao-Ping, Taipei in July 2004. The cafe set extraordinary records serving more than 2,300 cups of coffee to nearly 2,000 guests every day. Within one and a half years, 85° C Bakery Cafe expanded to 137 shops throughout Taiwan, creating a new trend in the food industry. Each cafe serves coffee, tea, cakes, and breads, and offers a comfortable atmosphere for everyone to relax and enjoy a meal or snack at any time of day. Come watch our chefs prepare your food in our open kitchen or choose your favorite cake from our display.
As nice as the above corporate propaganda sounds, it is impossible to relax, enjoy a meal or watch the chefs prepare food at the only 85° C in Amercia. The place is simply way too busy. There is a line up all the time and it can stretch over 100 feet during busy hours.
The Cafe operates like one big assembly-line with you as one of the workers. Once inside the store, you grab a tray and tongs, file through the bakery area and fill your tray with baked goods and then wait in another lineup to pay. To encourage you to leave the store instead of eating in, there is a sign at the cash register that reminds you that sales tax is charged for braked items consumed in-store. This lead me to believed that Irvine does not charge a sales tax on takeout braked goods but tax was added to my bill anyway. I therefore translated the sign to mean, “Pay and get the hell out!”
The bakery items are really good and priced really inexpensive as well. This helps to explain why there’s always a huge line up. The cafe is by far the most popular store at the Jamboree Shopping Center. I didn’t get a chance to try the coffee but if it’s anywhere near as good as the braked goods, Starbucks will be shaking in their boots once 85° C decides to expand beyond their single US store.