Are they everywhere in Taiwan?
A surprising fact, however, is how 85°C is received in its home country of Taiwan. Fry went on to become a Fulbright scholar, completing two years as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan, and was surprised to find that consumers are not as enthusiastic about the bakery there as they are in America. “It didn’t have the same hype. [There’s] not as much bread in the shops in Taiwan; I don’t think it’s a destination like people make it in the US.”
Frances Lee, a New Yorker who spent her childhood years in Taiwan and returned to the island for college, echoes this claim. “I think it’s doing well overseas because the trend of bubble tea, Asian cafes, and Asian sweets are becoming more popular abroad,” she said. “[But] in Taiwan, Starbucks cafes are taking over, [as well as] more hipster and unique cafes.”
The selection and range of cafes in Taiwan is immense. There are specialty shops that offer different types of bubble tea. Others craft a cuter space that draws in the consumers looking to expand their Instagram portfolio. In other words, 85°C is old news.
“There isn’t really room for a chain like that unless it’s Starbucks,” Lee remarked. “People go to Starbucks for the expensive, fancy coffee and [to get] the ‘American’ experience.” In this instance, this common proverb rings true: the grass is always greener on the other side.
That doesn’t mean that 85°C is completely out of the minds of Taiwanese consumers, though. Fry remembers the 85°C Cafes in Taiwan as a common place to meet up, sit down, and chat -- especially if the weather was good, because a lot of the seating at the 85°C’s in Taiwan are outside. For Lee, she believes a big draw that keeps 85°C going is the nostalgia that it provides. “It’s still a classic brand that’s known and recognized,” she said. “Like, even though I haven’t had stuff from there in awhile, it definitely brings back memories.”