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(Updated) Milk Box Bar Shifts Focus to Community - Lets Customers Pay Whatever They Can Contribute

Danggggggggg, this is a huuuuuge change. Previously, Milk Box had experimented with the pay whatever you want model where customers choose their own price to pay when ordering drinks. Now they are making it become a permanent thing, where all locations will allow customers to choose whatever price they wanna pay, and 50% of the proceeds will be going directly back to the community such as charity organizations.

This post was initially published on February 9, and has been updated on February 27, 2018.

Photo Credit | Milk Box Bar

But the payment model isn't the only thing that is changing. Milk Box Bar is also tweaking their menu a bit too.

Here are some of the changes I know so far:

  • Basically the milk tea menu stays the same except
    • chai milk tea and black sesame matcha will be removed.
      • this saddens me because these are two of my favorite drinks!
      • Especially their Masala Chai Milk Tea, it is hands down the best in the area (better than Harmony Tea Bar's version).
  • Many of the fruity iced teas will now be using syrup (I saw them syrup containers in the store and if I am recognizing them correctly, it is from Teazone company). Also, I just asked the staff about them
    • This isn't a big deal to me because I don't usually order their fruit iced teas.
    • I can understand the reason for this change though, because it might have been too costly before.
    • Note: Teazone is a commonly used fruit syrup brand at many boba shops including Lollicup and more. Here is an example with an ingredients list, including fructose and food coloring. 
  • New Drink: Thai Tea
    • Apparently this is one of their most requested drinks and they have answered their fans! Thai Tea is now on the menu.
    • for those wondering if this is natural, the answer is probably not. 
      • Thai Tea has food coloring within it's tea leaves. That means they are already dyed orange. You can extract the dye by washing the leaves though but who has time for that!?
      • Yes, that means Thai Tea with food coloring is sold at most stores.
      • Fun Fact: Thai Tea, when gained global fame, was dyed Orange with food coloring by Chefs to be more marketable. The Thai Tea you know today is most likely dyed with food coloring. Even the ones in Thailand to attract tourists.
      • For natural Thai Tea (no food coloring), go to Harmony Tea Bar in Mission Viejo / Laguna Beach
  • No more lactose-free milk. 
    • Milk Box used to use Strauss Organic Valley Lactose-Free milk. 
    • However, since their menu change, they have now switched to regular milk. So if you're lactose-intolerant, drink their milk teas carefully!
    • You can also request almond milk as a substitute though

I'll still support Milk Box because I do love this new concept of focusing on the community. I think it's a great thing because it brings more awareness to each customer to think more about others, and thus, create a better community.

Also, they still have my other favorite drinks: Matcha Cookies and Cream and Earl Grey Lavender. 

My worry is that many people will take advantage of this "name your price model" and pay less than what is expected to keep the store surviving. Or maybe people will be nice and pay the typical $4 -$5 price or even more

While I still support Milk Box, I am a bit saddened that they removed Chai Milk Tea & Black Sesame Matcha and will be introducing syrup to their menu. But I guess I can understand the reasons for it due to cost and such.

According to their Instagram and info they are marketing, whatever you pay - 50% of that is supposed to go to staff + charity and the other 50% goes to overhead costs. However, some of my friends + yelp reviews have received different information.

This is a risky move - removing prices and letting customers pay whatever they choose - but it can be done correctly with the right verbage. If the staff explains the concept correctly without guilt-tripping the customer, I am sure the customer would be more than happy to pay the "suggested price" or even more.

But the experience for some has been quite differnet. Some recent Yelp reviews mentioned that only anything more than the suggested price is donated. Telling customers, "If you don't pay more than $4 then nothing will be donated" will make the customer feel like a jerk for not donating. And this is also different from what is advertised. Over the suggested price? I thought no matter what you pay.... 50% of it is donated / goes anyways..?

 I am not even sure what percentage of the money is donated at this point.  Because misinformation can lead to more damage, I hope it gets sorted out soon.

Another reason why it's disappointing that they have switched their recipe to syrup is because they originally won customers over with their real milk tea with no artificial flavor and all real tea leaves and organic lactose free milk concept. Everything was all natural and of the highest quality as possible. But they quietly changed their recipe (I am just observant and see the syrup bottles and asked the workers) and changed their payment system. I wouldn't mind paying the "suggested price" at $4 or $5 (and more) if the quality was still the same as before. But since the quality of many of their drinks has downgraded to syrup, I should not be guilt-tripped by the staff for paying less than the "suggested price" if I am not too concerned about donating to their cause. Think about it, the fruit teas are now similar to the other boba shops nearby that serve fruit teas using Teazone syrup. Maybe 80% of shops in Garden Grove/Westminster use TeaZone and their drink prices are only $3 - cheaper than Milk Box.

I know many people don't care about syrup in the drinks. Syrup allows the drink to have a stronger flavor. And unless you're drinking boba all the time, it won't really affect your health so much. Instead, it'll just be a nice treat. I personally don't care too much about syrup either because when it's mixed really well and incorporated into the drink well, I'm all for it.

But I think it's a little deceptive to ride on their initial fame of offering all natural drinks for many of the original supporters who don't know about the changes unless they are very observant or even bother asking about it.

Overall though, the drinks are tasty and customer service is still friendly. And the fact that they are trying to push change for a better community and build compassion is noteworthy.

Let me know what you think in the comments below or drop me an email at !

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