If you drive up and down Ponce as frequently as I do, chances are you’ve seen it at least once. The sign proudly proclaims “The Very First HoneyBubble On Earth!” A bold, ambitious statement for a little tea shop…or is it?
It’s easy to dismiss places like HoneyBubble as well-funded, good intentioned shops that pin their hopes too much on temporary fads. As evidenced by the cupcake fad of 201o to 2012; many try but few succeed.
My guess is though is that that HoneyBubble may just have a shot at bucking that trend and achieving the world domination their sign suggests. Here’s why…
Let’s start with the basics. HoneyBubble is a purveyor of bubble (or boba) tea, a traditional a Taiwanese milk-based tea with tapioca balls at the bottom. Yes, I know it sounds odd but try to keep an open mind. Trust me, it works and it’s delicious.
My personal introduction to the amazingly, refreshingly gummy beverage was thanks to my friend Amanda. During my stint in Washington, DC we’d venture up to the burbs to shop at malls popular with the Asian-American community.
Amanda, you see, was/is a big fan of anything anime/comic book related. To her, these malls were an oasis of cool for her away from the increasingly gentrified (and overpriced) areas like Georgetown and Pentagon City. Case in point – they were hipster/harajuku cool before said sub-cultures were “cool.”
On our first trip out to these malls, Amanda insisted I had to try bubble tea. After looking at the odd, gelatinous balls resting at the bottom of the shrink-wrapped beverage, I tried it. I’ve been hooked ever since.
You see, bubble tea is more than a beverage. It’s a chill, refreshing snack with just enough weirdness to trump anything Starbucks can offer.
What’s great is that HoneyBubble takes bubble tea to the next level. Not only do they offer traditional, milk-based bubble teas, they offer “clear” bubble teas as well as gelato, hot tea and a variety of snack-able items courtesy of a partnership with Alon’s Bakery. They even have a variety of “bubbles” including tapioca, sweet aloe vera, and coffee gummies.
The result is that you can mix and match teas, flavors and beverage experiences to find the combination that suits your style.
I’m not going to lie. You can go wrong with certain combinations. For instance, I tried the coffee gummies instead of regular tapioca with a clear bubble tea and immediately regretted it. Your best bet is to stick with the traditional bubble teas, at least at first.
If the selection seems intimidating, the staff at HoneyBubble knows their stuff. This isn’t Starbucks and the the staff isn’t going to look down your nose at you if you ask questions. As you get familiar with the nature of bubble teas, you can expand your palette and then it’s off to the races.
What also makes me believe HoneyBubble has staying power is that it has created a space to socialize as cool as the beverages it serves. Too often cafés like this obsess over the food as a fad without thinking about creating a place you actually want to come back to over and over again.
HoneyBubble doesn’t just have once space but three distinct areas to lounge in. There’s the main room with a variety of seating options, the conference room style working space, and a patio. Each space is cute, well designed but thoughtful enough with the ambient noise to make it a place you want to hang out.
Located a short walk from the Beltline and across from the Claremont Lounge, HoneyBubble occupies it’s own little corner of character on Ponce. Parking can get a bit tight in front but they also have a lot in back accessible via Bonaventure Ave.
Traffic is brisk, particularly on sunny weekend afternoons, with many patrons opting to walk from either from the Beltline at Ponce City Market or from the Freedom Parkway Trail. The walk is about a block and a half from either direction and is more than worth it.
The net result is that HoneyBubble is one of my favorite places on Ponce. For date nights, long exploration off the Betline, or just a casual drop-in to see what its like, I really want to encourage you to discover HoneyBubble for yourself.
Not only is their product great but they are capitalizing on doing a unique cafe right. My hope, and my bet, is that they become a staple in the Poncey-Highlands community and they indeed are able to embark on their quest to conquer the world…or at least offer an alternative to cupcakes.
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