The Orange County-based 7 Leaves Cafe filmed a promotional video on the San Jose
University campus to herald the company’s arrival in the Bay Area.
Ten minutes after the butcher paper came off the windows at 1743 Berryessa Road in San Jose, the line starting forming.
And it’s rarely let up, though this is the soft opening for 7 Leaves Cafe, and the grand opening won’t be held until Saturday. Even with the temperature dipping down into the low 40s on Monday night, the line to order iced drinks was still 30-deep.
Customers are flocking to this SoCal cult favorite that specializes in coffee and tea — and pretty much only coffee and tea. It’s so popular with Northern Californians that families have been known to bring ice chests along on trips down south so they can stock up on their 7 Leaves faves, which are available in half-gallon jugs (as well as medium and large sizes).
About 15 drinks are offered, all of them iced. Three are coffees: the House Coffee, a sweet and creamy concoction with a touch of hazelnut (it’s the bestselling coffee on the menu); a traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee; and the Sea Cream Black Coffee, a lightly sweetened coffee served with a topping of sea-salt cream. Of the dozen teas, the most popular is the Mung Bean Tea, made with mung beans and pandan leaves. Other offerings include Assam Milk Tea, Japanese Matcha Tea, Thai Tea, Taro Milk Tea, Sunset Passion and a secret-blend Herbal Tea.
The menu is intentionally simple, 7 Leaves executive Vinh Le said, because it’s a labor-intensive enterprise, with all of the drinks crafted onsite — from cooking the taro and mung beans to squeezing the passion fruit to brewing the tea. More than 30 employees were hired for this North San Jose shop.
And every batch must pass muster. “It’s part of our procedure to taste-test for consistent quality,” he said.
The 7 Leaves Cafe — nicknamed by many the ‘Asian Starbucks’ — was founded in 2012 in Orange County’s Little Saigon by a group of seven, four brothers and three friends. They’ve since grown to 16 locations in Southern California, with expansion plans that include Las Vegas and Houston.
Le, who oversees the Bay Area expansion, expects to open three or four more cafes in the San Jose-Milpitas area this year.
“People have been asking for our brand to come here for a long time,” said Le, who is scouting other sites throughout the South Bay, especially those with drive-thru potential.
Saturday’s grand opening event will start at 11 a.m., with raffles of prizes such as an Apple watch, a Nintendo Switch and Apple AirPods.