On a given day, there are 60 breads and 60 cakes available at 85°C Bakery Café. And with lines out the door, they go fast. But they're replenished quickly, signaled by the staff's constant refrain of "Fresh bread!" as they emerge from the kitchen with another batch.
Today the chain known internationally as the "Starbucks of Taiwan" (don't let that deter you) opens its first Houston location and its 1,000th worldwide. Another is coming soon at 1027 Blalock Rd. and marketing and PR coordinator Christopher Jocson says Houston can expect at least one more this year.
Though many of the delicacies, like buns covered in pork sung or blackened with squid ink, are unmistakably Asian in heritage, the American division of 85°C has its own research and development team. "We're trying to develop more fusion," says Jocson. He says the success of the venture has been evidenced by the diverse clientele other locations have attracted. However, he adds: "We still want to remember our roots."
Why does the brand create mania wherever it lands? Jocson argues that there aren't many places to buy three pastries and a coffee for less than $5. Especially not at the quality offered at 85°C. The name refers to the temperature at which La Marzocco espresso machines brew the brand's own Guatemalan-sourced beans, which the brand touts as the perfect temperature for creating coffee.
But for our money, the bakery is the best reason to visit.