Bypass several chain boba shops on Telegraph Avenue to find Kuboba Spot, a boba cafe featuring fresh fruit drinks and Filipino-inspired pastries.
According to Sam Bernardino, co-owner of Kuboba Spot, the shop’s name comes from the Tagalog bahay kubo, an iconic type of stilt house in the Philippines. Many of the decorations inside Kuboba Spot pay homage to the style, including a “TikTok wall” for patrons to take pictures.
“We want this to be very homey,” said co-owner Seyna Smith. “Whoever comes in, I want them to feel like, ‘Oh, okay, I can actually sit down and I can actually have a nice drink and something to eat.’”
In addition to indoor and outdoor seating, the shop also features a glass partition at the counter so patrons can see their drinks and pastries being prepared.
During the past few weeks, Smith said Kuboba Spot served about 75 patrons per day, with some days having more than 120. However, the owners anticipate “heavy traffic” when students return to Berkeley for the fall semester.
“We always ask for their name. If it’s not too busy, we always like to go and talk to them,” Smith said. “Our customer service is what we pride ourselves on.”
Kuboba Spot celebrated its soft opening June 18, but it previously opened pop-ups and catered throughout Contra Costa County, Smith said.
Both Smith and Bernardino used to work in the healthcare industry, but Smith said the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged them to “go for what their dreams were.” For Smith, this dream was to open a bakery, and for Bernardino, it was to open a cafe and lounge — so they combined the concepts.
The menu currently features a variety of drinks and pastries. According to Smith and Bernardino, some highlights include buko pandan — a popular Filipino dessert — as well as a strawberry Potchi drink inspired by the Filipino candy and empanadas filled with kaldereta, a traditional Filipino beef stew.
So far, the buko pandan drink is popular with customers, as are the kaldereta empanadas and chicken adobo empanadas.
UC Berkeley rising sophomore Ysabella Carrera said she liked the adobo empanadas and buko pandan, adding that they were “really Filipino-tasting.” Carrera also noted the price was more reasonable compared to other boba shops in Berkeley.
However, what sets Kuboba Spot apart from the many other boba shops in Southside is its concept and interactions with customers, Smith added.
“It’s the fact that you’re seeing someone actually making your empanadas, or you’re able to talk to the person that’s making your drink,” Smith said. “We try to make it as personalized as possible.”