Baked Goods

Fans Line Up As 85°C Bakery Cafe Opens its First Arizona Location

People trekked to 85°C Bakery Cafe in Chandler from all over metro Phoenix on its opening day.
People trekked to 85°C Bakery Cafe in Chandler from all over metro Phoenix on its opening day. Mike Madriaga
At noon on November 12, a line of about 25 people formed by the 99 Ranch Market in Chandler. Next door, the world-renowned 85°C Bakery Cafe was holding its soft opening. People trekked from all over the Valley and waited in line for 30 minutes or more to purchase baked goods rarely seen for sale in metro Phoenix.

Just as fast as eager customers made their way inside the novel spot, folks were scurrying out with smiles on their faces and doughnut-style boxes packed with goodies in their arms. Others walked out slowly, trying to avoid the frenzy and grasping their gourmet cakes handcrafted by the bakery's award-winning chefs.

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The cafe's chefs and bakers "make our toasts the night before, and for everything else we make throughout the day for the current day up until about an hour before close," Kyra Campbell says.
Mike Madriaga
In their hauls, some had Taiwanese Boroh, a soft and sweet bread with a crispy top layer, Spinach Kale Danishes filled with cheese, and Whole Wheat Mushroom bread topped with cheese, mushrooms, and parsley.

The bakers work hard to keep the shelves stocked with fresh pastries throughout the day, but on that opening Saturday, the demand was high leaving some slots on the shelves bare.

"On that Saturday, we probably served around 300 to 400 people," says the Chandler store's supervisor Kyra Campbell. "It was crazy."

The new Chandler store is part of a chain that first opened in southern California in 2008. Now there are over 1,000 locations worldwide. The Dobson Road and West Chandler Boulevard locale is the first 85°C Bakery Cafe in Arizona.

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The Chandler store is the first in Arizona.
Mike Madriaga
"Our name comes from the perfect brewing temperature for espresso, 85 [degrees] celsius," Campbell says. "Customers have told me since moving to Arizona from California that they’ve been dying for a location here, or simply others want to try Taiwanese bread!"

The new bakery and cafe is trending within local food groups on Facebook. On one forum, Christy R. posted, "They have some of the best bakery items I’ve ever had. Tons of stuff we can’t find at all the other little bakeries around here and some unique stuff too. Plus, it has a cult following, kind of like In-N-Out."

And like In-N-Out Burger's notorious drive-thru lines, 85°C Bakery Cafe's line goes out the door and sometimes snakes around the block.

A considerable part of the allure of the new Chandler bakery and cafe is the setup and experience. Once customers walk into the modern bakery with lofty-high ceilings and artistically exposed air ducts, they are greeted by stanchions. The stanchions lead the customers through a small maze of shelving and glass cases filled with baked goods.

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Each pastry is individually wrapped.
Mike Madriaga
Think of the pan dulce set up at a Mexican supermarket, where customers pull out plastic trays and then stack them with different pieces of bread. However, at this Asian bakery, no tongs are needed, as each pastry is wrapped in cellophane or propped in a display box.

Sometimes the lines are slow, as people take their time reading the signs explaining the unique pieces of bread for sale. While waiting, customers can watch the busy staff work within the confines of the glossy tile and brick walls ladened with themed contemporary art and neon-lit verbiage.

"Our more expensive items would be our cakes or drinks, but only at about $4 per cake slice and $5 for drinks," Campbell says. "Our cheapest items must be our bread, some being as cheap as $1.25 and as much as $3. Our top three breads always selling out are our Marble Taro, Hokkaido Custard Bun, and our Brioche."

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The Marble Taro bread is packed with a sweet taro filling.
Mike Madriaga
The Marble Taro ($2.75) is a round sweet bread that has purple-colored swirls throughout its off-white color. Inside, it's packed with sweet taro filling. The Hokkaido Custard Bun ($2.15) is a Twinkie-like soft bread filled with sweet cream and vanilla custard. The Brioche ($2.62) is a sweet bread that tastes milky and buttery and has a soft and moist texture.

The bakery also creates savory pastries, including Jalapeño Cream Cheese bread, a Spicy Sausage bread that has cheese and is topped with Sriracha and mayonnaise, and a Pork Sung Bun, a soft Taiwanese bun topped with dry shredded pork and 85°C house-blended mayo sauce.

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Jalapeño Cream Cheese bread is one of many savory options.
Mike Madriaga
The cafe's chefs and bakers "make our toasts the night before, and for everything else we make throughout the day for the current day up until about an hour before close," Campbell says.

Once the customers make it to the front of the line, they can order coffee and tea drinks, including Vietnamese coffee, flavored lattes, Sea Salt Oolong tea, boba teas, and Zebra Oolong milk teas. The 85°C signature coffee with espresso shots and cream and sugar is a popular choice. In addition, the baristas make fruity drinks, including peach green tea, red grapefruit green tea, taro lavender lattes, and mango strawberry smoothies.

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Kyra Campbell is the new Chandler bakery's supervisor.
Mike Madriaga
Cheng-Hsueh Wu, the 85°C Bakery Cafe founder, was inspired in 2003 when he walked into a hotel cafe, according to the company's website. He purchased and ate gourmet pastries and drinks and thought the prices were expensive for folks to enjoy spontaneously on "a whim."

So Wu envisioned a casual cafe that served high-quality pastries and coffee at more affordable prices. In 2008, he opened his first 85°C Bakery Cafe in Irvine, California. Over 14 years later metro Phoenix residents can now experience Wu's vision.

The cafe will celebrate its grand opening on December 2. And if the new Chandler location is a little out of the way, no worries, Campbell explains "the company plans to open at least two more locations in the Valley in the next year."

The cafe is currently open in its soft-opening phase, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Starting on December 2, the hours will expand to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

85°C Bakery Cafe

1912 West Chandler Boulevard, Chandler
480-687-5011

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