A Taiwanese coffee chain is enjoying sweet results after launching “salt coffee,” which produces a unique but not entirely salty taste.
Since launching “salt coffee” on Dec. 11, the 85˚C Bakery Cafe (85˚C), Taiwan’s largest coffee chain, has changed coffee drinkers’ habits, and more and more customers are ordering Salt Coffee rather than black or sugared coffee.
“Public reaction surprised us. Nowadays an outlet in north Taiwan can sell 700 cups of salt coffee per day and a store in south Taiwan can sell 700 cups, which is 20 to 30 percent more than the daily sale of our mainstay, cafe Americano,” said Cathy Chung (鐘靜如), spokeswoman for 85˚C.
Chung said 85˚C hit upon the idea of launching Salt Coffee because of the rising popularity of using sea-salt as a health ingredient in food or cosmetics.
“Sea salt, which is also called ocean salt, is not refined and has more minerals than table salt. Besides giving a salty flavor, it opens the taste buds of your tongue, so you get a unique flavor from our salt coffee,” she said.
The 85˚C Bakery Cafe adds a small amount of sea salt to the creamy foam and chilled cream to a cup of steaming coffee. Many customers expressed delight when they tried their first cup of salt coffee.
“It gives you three tastes. First, you get the slightly salty taste from the cold cream foam; second, the mixed taste of the salty cream foam and hot coffee; and third, the aroma of coffee,” Ho Hsiu-ling, a university student, said at the 85˚C outlet on Xinyi Road in Taipei.
“It is amazing. I ordered it out of curiosity and expected it to be salty, but the taste is not entirely salty. It is salty and sweet, and is more fragrant then sugared coffee,” she said.
But Lee Ping-mou, a computer engineer, said he preferred iced salt coffee “because the salty-sweet taste is sharper.”
Taiwanese traditionally rub salt onto fruit to make them taste sweeter and this may explain the latest craving for salt coffee.
After creating salt coffee, 85˚C plans to launch cheese coffee and fruity coffee by adding cheese and mashed fruit to the coffee.
Founded in 2004, 85˚C beat Starbucks to become the nation’s largest coffee chain in 2005. It now has 35 outlets in Taiwan, 20 in China, four in Australia and one in the US.
The secret of the firm’s success lies in its low-priced coffee — NT$35 to NT$55 (US$1 to US$1.5) per cup — and up to 50 types of bread and cake fresh out of the oven.
The company, based in Taichung, has its main bakery in the city and another in Taipei County, while 33 outlets across Taiwan have their own bakeries.
“We are now Taiwan’s biggest coffee chain by the number of outlets and by earnings. Our goal is to turn 85˚C coffee into an international brand,” Chung said.