Five days after the grand opening of 85°C Bakery Cafe in Edmonds, there remained a kind of “new car” excitement at the store.
Some of the customers were on their first visit to the international chain’s locations — there are more than 1,000 of them in China, Australia and the United States.
Others, self-serve trays in hand, had clearly made 85°C a welcome habit.
David Mosberg of Brier was there for the May 17 opening and returned Tuesday morning. He said the opening day crowd was huge. He turned toward the window to point to a spot beyond the building’s corner. “Way down there,” he said.
On his return trip this week, Mosberg picked up one of the white bakery tongs to pluck items from food cases chock full of breads, sweet rolls and desserts. There are sandwiches, too, like the spicy hot dog (a sort of upscale pigs in a blanket) and something similar to a small Hawaiian pizza.
I had certainly heard about the buzz created by the chain in 2017, when it opened its first Snohomish County store in Lynnwood’s Alderwood Plaza.
But I’d never stopped in. When I walked into the Edmonds store on Tuesday, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of a business that’s sometimes referred to as “the Asian Starbucks.” The company, launched in Taipei in 2004, has since grown into an international brand.
Among its specialties is sea salt coffee, so I knew I had to try it. I enjoyed its distinctive taste. The company name derives from the temperature it deems ideal to serve its coffee (85 degrees Celsius is 185 degrees Fahrenheit).
While choosing my drink was easy, selecting what to have with it was a conundrum.
Food display cases are stocked with offerings of Asian and European-style rolls and breads. The store has more than 60 types of bread baked on site, as well as cakes, coffee, teas and smoothies.
I spent at least 10 minutes perusing my choices. I’m not someone who glories in the highest-octane sugar treats, so I opted for the taro swirl pastry ($2.25) and just loved it. For me, it was the Goldilocks offering — not too sweet, just right.
While still sipping my coffee, an employee walked up to my table to ask if I would like to have a sample of the berry tart. Well, who could say no? I loved its blueberry mixture peeking through an oval in its crust — light, yummy and with a creamy texture. It cost just $2.
I had two coworkers in Everett, Evan Thompson and Sara Bruestle, who were waiting for me to bring them treats they could try. Even with dozens of choices competing for my attention, I thought the berry tart was a lock.
Knowing their “sweeter the better” proclivity, I made my two other choices: A sugared cream cheese brioche ($2), and a muffin-like serving of chocolate cookie bread ($2.20).
At the checkout counter, I spotted one more thing that I thought would intrigue them, a serving of chocolate mousse cake ($3.40).
Sara said the brioche’s sugar crystals and bits of cream cheese “make it into a fancy dessert.” She judged the blueberry tart “a sweet surprise” while the chocolate bread reminded her of a similar bread made by her mother.
It was mousse that seemed to sweep the awards, though, with Sara saying, “This is my favorite” after just one bite and Evan saying: “These guys are legit.”
There was some question about opening a second store in the county just 4.1 miles away from its Lynnwood store. It seems to have been a good bet. The cafe has served as many as 625 people a day since its opening. The Edmonds shop, based in a former Payless shoe store, can seat up to 30 people, more than double the space at the Lynnwood store.
The company also has stores in Tukwila, Seattle’s International District and Federal Way. It takes confidence — and a dash of chutzpah — to open “the Asian Starbucks” stores so close to where Starbucks began its own meteoric rise to international fame.
The coffee giant may want to take a spoonful of advice from baseball Hall of Fame member Satchel Paige: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
85°C Bakery Cafe is at 22611 76th Ave. W., Suite 100, Edmonds. It’s open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Call 425-670-3085 or go to www.85cbakerycafe.com for more information.