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Fresh tea and beyond: Alumni feature

two hands cheersing with bubble teas

By Sarabeth Castro

Tim Yu is a franchise owner of CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice. But, Tim is more than just the co-owner of a rapidly expanding bubble tea shop. He’s also a NAIT alumnus. 

Yu graduated in 2015 from the Business Administration program. He was an international student, arriving in Canada from China when he was 18 years old. Yu said the adjustment was challenging at first because of the language barrier, but he managed to overcome his struggles by focusing on his goals.

Yu explained that his parents were the ones to choose NAIT as his school because of its reputable name and hands-on application type studying. But Yu feels very fortunate that he can now apply all the knowledge he acquired while studying at NAIT in his own business. 

“I learned a lot in Finance and Management, Human Resources, and Business Law which are vital in business. I was able to apply these learnings in putting up and running the business,” said Yu.

Yu started his business in 2016 with his wife, Tracy, because they both love bubble tea. Now, they have five locations in Edmonton with two more opening soon and a target of nine by the end of the year. The Yu’s also have 55 employees, with an average of 10-11 per store. CoCo is a franchise, originating in Taiwan in 1997. Today, it has locations globally, including Asia, South Pacific, and North America. 

There are two best-selling flavours at CoCo: Three Guys and Brown Sugar Milk Tea. Three Guys contains pudding, chewy tapioca, and soft grass jelly for the perfect milk tea mixture. Brown Sugar Milk Tea is available hot and cold. CoCo’s signature is made with premium black tea, brown sugar, and non-dairy creamer. 
There are also two new flavours coming out: mango dream, which Tim describes as “like a mango slush but creamier with real mango chunks,” and strawberry latte, which is packed with strawberry flavour with strawberry bits. On top of the strawberry puree mixture they add some tea before finishing with a layer of yogurt/cream and fresh milk. 

Both the Yu’s agree that there is only one way to describe the offerings at CoCo: “Delicious!” 

Continually adding new flavours and new stores is challenging, and both Tim and Tracy have hectic schedules because of the expansion. But the Yu’s value family, so they prioritize family time on their days off. “My kids, my wife, my parents are my inspiration every day to work and overcome the challenges and difficulties,” said Tim.

Tim relies on his teachings from his time at NAIT to ensure his business is successful. “It is essential to know management skills and communicate well with your staff.” 

For NAIT students looking to open a business after they graduate, Tim advises students to take advantage of asking their instructors and bringing their valuable insights and experiences that they can apply in the future.  

COVER PHOTO from Instagram @cocoteaedmonton

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