SKIP the line at Bo’s Coffee with a chatbot called Botty.

Botty was formally introduced earlier this week to guests at Bo’s in Glorietta, but it has been rolled out in 47 stores since June. Bo’s Coffee currently has a little over 100 branches.

To use Botty, simply open the Messenger app and search for Bo’s Coffee Advance Ordering BOTTY. Then, send your location or choose the store to place your order. Choose your drink size, perks, and quantity.

You can pay online using Visa or MasterCard credit/debit cards, PayMaya Card and Cash. The order will be ready in 15 minutes. Then just skip the queue and present the collection number at the counter.

Other online payment options will be accepted soon such as GCash and GrabPay. Delivery service will soon be available as well via GrabExpress.

For now, however, the chatbot ordering system limits one to a quick pickup.

The chatbot, according to CEO Steve Benitez, is the first step for a more online Bo’s experience. “Later on, we’ll integrate everything on one platform,” he said. For now, they’re tapping into the Messenger app because “Everybody has Messenger.”

Bo’s Coffee was founded in 1996 in Cebu, and has since expanded to over 100 branches around the country, and even one in the Middle East. It is distinct in standing out as the biggest independent local chain in a country dominated by international giants such as Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (which is in the process of being bought by home-grown Jollibee Foods Corp.), and now, even Tim Horton’s from Canada. “I think that’s because we are very focused on highlighting Philippine coffee,” said Mr. Benitez. “We’re very focused on highlighting what is best about the Philippines.”

Mr. Benitez sources Bo’s coffee from several communities in Cotabatao, Davao, Bukidnon, Sagada, and Benguet. While not all of the coffee sold in Bo’s is Filipino however, they do have a special line that offers 100% Philippine coffee. “The more that we procure from them, the more sustainable they will become,” he said about the farming communities from which they source coffee through social entrepreneur partners. “We’re moving towards direct (sourcing),” he said.

Mr. Benitez talked about Bo’s Qatar branch, which opened in 2017, which means the Filipino coffee flag flies beyond these shores. It led to a reflection on his status as a Filipino brand among giants. “It feels fulfilling. Sometimes I feel like when you go around the commercial areas, you feel like we’ve kind of lost our sense of creativity. All you see are foreign brands.

“Our mission is to elevate our sense of being Filipino,” he said. “The entrepreneurial spirit of the Filipino is manifested in the brands that we are able to create.” — J.L. Garcia