California, or rather, the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles, probably have the greatest concentration of boba shops outside of Asia. Most of the many many boba tea shop chains from Taiwan land here first, and a lot of them thrive here, often even as they fall out of popularity back in the motherland. The boba shop market landscape is dominated by generations of imported chains with occasional one of local shops here and there. Which is why Boba Guys stands out: a homegrown boba chain and by and for Asian Americans, the next generation of consumer looking not just for nostalgia and authenticity but new classics that riff on traditional flavors like a third wave coffee shop.
Boba Guys defies the traditional boba shop format, and in doing so has a broader consumer appeal beyond the Asian American community, opening up locations outside of traditional Asian enclaves. There aren’t dozens of choices, there are a curated selection of drinks with plant-based milk options. Their signature drinks range from tea based (classic black green and oolong milk teas to matcha, hojicha and chai), to coffee based, to creative combinations like pumpkin spice horchata, dirty banana milk and ube latte. Rather than the classic plastic cup seal they have the standard drink lids and sustainable bamboo fiber straws. In form and substance, its holds a familiar allure, almost like the Alfred of boba shops. It feels distinctly Californian, like you can taste the Bay Area entrepreneurial ethos, and they have the merch line for it. A decade since its founding, Boba Guys has catapulted boba baes to mainstream food culture.
Go here for: a cold sweet treat, you deserve it
Order this: strawberry matcha latte, hojicha black sugar latte, black sesame latte
Amount of time to spend: 10 minutes for a quick pit stop, but sometimes on a hot weekend afternoon it is too crowded
When to come: weekday late afternoons or evenings are probably the best bet to avoid long lines
Other things to note:
Last visited: February 2022
Last updated: February 2022