Bo’s Coffee: Homegrown, Just-Roasted Coffee Goodness


1996. It was an era when Wi-Fi was just a funny sounding word, mobile phones were the size of bricks, and the idea of heading out for coffee with your friends was about as familiar as the concept of social networking at the time—that is, to say, completely alien.It was also during this time that Steve Benitez did something that very few entrepreneurs would dream of doing: he decided to start a business that involved selling coffee to a market that shuddered at the idea of paying for a drink they could brew at home. The idea, however seemingly radical at the time, was borne out of his passion to share his coffee experiences in the US and Europe to Filipinos, many of whom are coffee lovers.
Thus, on June 28, 1996, Bo’s Coffee opened its first branch in Ayala Center Cebu.”Coffee was not a lifestyle yet, it was just a product. There were not a lot of coffee shops, and there were no foreign brands in the market,” said Steve Benitez, Founder and CEO of Bo’s Coffee. Filipinos, at that time, couldn’t understand why they’d have to pay so much for a cup of coffee, and that was the mold Bo’s Coffee had to break.

 Given the market situation of the industry in 1996, the public perception of Bo’s Coffee hadn’t been very encouraging.

“The first Bo’s Coffee in Cebu was just a kiosk with six tables—a very, very small operation.” Benitez recalls. “Back then, people saw coffee as just a product that they can get for free in their homes, and they get it so cheaply at restaurants. So when we priced our coffee at specialty coffee prices, it [met] some resistance.”

He continues, “For the first three months it was really discouraging. If it was purely treated by me as a business, I think I would have folded that up. But it was really more of a passion, because the coffee experience at Bo’s Coffee isn’t just about the just-roasted freshness of our various brews, it was also about the experience of enjoying quality coffee with the people you love.”

After facing initial setbacks, Benitez’s commitment to providing world-class coffee experience for the Filipino community enabled the company to grow and flourish, and eventually, the community grew to love the brand.


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