You have probably come across Bo’s Coffee if you frequently visit the different coffee shops in Cebu. Locals are familiar with the cafe’s Filipino aesthetics and have tasted their coffee drinks, teas, and desserts.
This coffeehouse mostly caters to Filipinos by promoting Philippine coffee. They use coffee beans that are locally grown in famous coffee plantations in the country, each with its own distinct taste profile.
It’s one of the most successful coffee shops in the Philippines, with nearly 100 branches nationwide. Expect stalls and kiosks tucked conveniently inside many of the country’s shopping malls as well.
But how did this coffee giant gain its popularity?
It all started at a small space nestled inside Ayala Center Cebu.
BO’S COFFEE ORIGINS
The first Bo’s Coffee branch opened in 1996, with Ateneo de Manila law student Steve Benitez behind the wheel. Steve loved coffee, needing it to stay awake and study
Steve dropped out of law school in 1992 to take over the family business. He aimed to transform their barbecue business into a coffee shop, but he found it an unviable business venture after attending seminars abroad.
That didn’t stop him, though. With a starting capital of P150,000 (around $2,700 in today’s currency), he bought his first coffee machine in Singapore and hand-carried it all the way to Cebu.
Despite two of his business partners leaving before the shop’s opening, Bo’s Coffee started operations at Ayala.
Bo’s didn’t gain any profit in the first two months. At the time, the concept of coffee shops was new to many Cebuanos, so Steve gave free samples to mall goers.
Sales started to pile up around three months after the shop opened. Steve soon gained enough profit to open a second Bo’s Coffee branch, this time at SM City Cebu.
The business garnered more attention and opened more branches nationwide. In 2018, the Navegar Fund invested in the company due to its efforts in helping local farmers.
Bo’s Coffee has also collaborated with younger brands in the Philippines, marketing them to their customers. This included Theo and Philo Chocolates, Bayani Brew, Anthill Fabric Gallery, and Hope in a Bottle.
Sagada is nestled in the Cordillera region in Northern Philippines, known for its majestic mountains and outdoor attractions.
Coffee made from Sagada beans is sweet and nutty, and has hints of chocolate and tobacco.
- Atok & Ampucao
Atok & Ampucao are two types of coffee beans grown in the province of Benguet, which is where Baguio is (considered the coldest place in the Philippines).
Benguet coffee is characterized to smell like herbs but also taste like wine.
- Mt. Kitanglad
The fourth highest mountain in the Philippines, Mt. Kitanglad stands at the Kitanglad Mountain Range in the Bukidnon province in Mindanao. This inactive volcano has rich flora and fauna, and was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2009.
Bo’s Coffee describes their coffee beans as light and nutty.
- Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines. At 2,954 meters, this is among the country’s top trekking locations.
The coffee beans from Mt. Apo are known for their sweet and earthy flavor. It reportedly started around the mountain ranges between North Cotabato and Davao del Sur.
- Mt. Matutum
Mt. Matutum beans are grown in South Cotabato. This breathtaking mountain is filled with foliage that dozens of plants and animals call home.
The coffee beans are shaped like berries and are a bit spicy. You may also taste some cardamom and camphor in them.
Bo’s Coffee mainly serves espresso-based drinks to satisfy your Filipino palate. You can order either hot or cold drinks to keep warm during rainy days or cool on hot, sunny weather.
Their signature drinks include the Cold White Brew, which is particularly strong with a dash of thick cream. Their Iced Creamy Latte is smooth and rich, and it’s more milk-based than the Cold White Brew.
For hot drinks, you can order a cup of Philippine Coffee Origins, which are made from their exported coffee beans. You can order a pack of coffee grounds at the cafe and brew them at home.
They also sell espresso-based drinks like Americanos, Lattes, and Mochas.
If you need something for the hot, humid weather, consider ordering a Froccino or any of their Freezes, the cafe’s take on Frappuccinos. Froccinos are coffee-based, while Freezes are similar to smoothies.
Your top choice for non-coffee drinks is the Matcha Latte or their Signature Chocolate. They also have a few shaken iced tea drinks if you need something to cool you down.
For food, Bo’s Coffee has a vast selection of cakes, like New York Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Oreo Cheesecake. There are also donuts, cookies, waffles, and bread.
You can order breakfast platters with either bacon or corned beef. You can also order any of their pasta meals, which are served with a slice of garlic bread.
BRANCHES IN CEBU
Among the 91 Bo’s Coffee branches, around 30 are located within Metro Cebu. You can find many branches in some of the city’s biggest malls, but there are also flagship stores in busy areas within the city.
Bo’s Coffee has two coffee shops in IT Park, Cebu, one at Ayala Central Bloc and another at the i1 Building. If you’re into coffee shop aesthetics, visit the Banawa branch. It has a simple yet chic design.
You can also visit the branch near the Cebu Provincial Capitol, which was renovated for a more minimalistic design. It has picturesque interiors that are extremely Instagrammable.
Many Cebuanos are proud of how far this Cebu-born business has gone. It started with humble beginnings with several forks on the road, but it thrived and became a go-to cafe in the city.
Steve Benitez’s story shows us the resilience needed to be successful. Even if it seems like problems can hinder your journey, you can make it happen with enough passion and dedication.
The cafe promotes local products and supports small businesses to give people the perfect Filipino coffee experience. You will definitely be satisfied with their selection of coffee and tea drinks.
A company like Bo’s needs our support since it’s bringing the local coffee scene to a wider audience. It also shows the unwavering passion of Cebuanos that we can all learn and be proud of.