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Cat cafe: Popoki and Tea

Whether we like to admit it, or not, people have a thing for cats. We love them for being silly, adorable, and even loyal if we take one in. They have an undeniable innocence, that just makes them fun to watch. This could very well be the reason, why a cat cafe sounds so appealing to people, and why it’s such a popular concept. The idea of animal-centered cafes, originated in the Asian nation of Taiwan, in 1998, where they were the first to use cats as the central focus. It picked up more popularity in Japan, and has since then spread to America, and some parts of Europe.

Popoki+Tea is a monthly pop-up cat cafe which usually appears in Kaimuki. It allows customers to enjoy a refreshing cup of milk tea, while also giving them the chance to spend time with cute kittens, meet fellow cat-lovers, or even adopt a feline of their choosing.

The story of Popoki+Tea begins with Liberty Peralta, the owner and creator of the kitty-based event, and enjoyer of boba tea. While growing up in Waianae, Liberty had spent much of her time around a variety of animals, but not cats as her father did not have a liking to them, at the time.

After graduating from Waianae High School, Liberty went on to also graduate from Hawaii Pacific University, later accumulating over ten years of experience in marketing and media within Hawaii.

It wasn’t until Ms. Peralta begun doing volunteer work for places with cats, that she developed a liking towards them, and thus why she adopted her cat, Mara, in 2016, and visited cat cafes in Las Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Liberty saw the cat cafe idea as a “force for good” and decided that she would create her own, down in Oahu.

In order to do so however, she had to first determine whether or not, Oahu even wanted a cat cafe on her shores. Liberty took note of the fact that, in Hawaii, various pet businesses mainly focus on dogs. In order to figure out if a cat-centered shop will pick up traction, Ms. Peralta used her intelligence in marketing, to devise a test-- that test being, a monthly event, in which she would allow consumers to play with kittens, and buy homemade boba tea.

And thus, after two years of hard work, Popoki+Tea officially held their first event in June 2018, with The Public Pet in Kaimuki. Since then they have helped get fifty cats adopted within the year they have been active, and have quickly begun to pick up media attention.

The Missions of Popoki+Tea

There are two goals that Ms. Peralta has in mind for Popoki+Tea, the first of which is to obtain a permanent location. She hopes to find one within Honolulu, that way the cafe is in familiar territory, and act as a home for cats searching for a home.

The second goal is more personal to Liberty, herself. With Popoki+Tea, she aims to get more people to see that cats are really cool. There are many people who often judge cats, much like Ms. Peralta’s father, and despise them, despite the fact that they have not spent much time around cats. Liberty believes that through spending time with cats, these people would grow to actually like them, and thus she decided to use Popoki+Tea as a platform-- a way by which people can nurture their care towards felines and see that they are not as bad as they think.

Popoki+Tea Itself

Because Popoki+Tea is commonly held in pet stores, of which have business besides the event, there is one thing a person must do before entering. An attendee must first sign an online liability waiver, which is located on Popoki+Tea’s website. It can be signed in advance, or at the entrance of the event holder itself.

What Popoki+Tea offers for the time of its guests, is cute kittens and wonderful tea. They provide the cats with their own area, away from the main cafe, in which they are allowed to roam around and hang out with the people that enter.

Every cat there is up for adoption, happily provided by various foster services, thus making it an easy place to obtain a new feline companion.

Popoki+Tea also grants homemade teas which are sold to the patrons. They have regular milk tea, which can come with or without boba; matcha milk tea, which can also come with and without boba; hibiscus tea; and plain water. They also offer cookies, stickers, and tee shirts-- each item featuring the very same kitty theme.

Thinking of Going to the Event?

Keep up with event dates, and locations on their website and social media pages:

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue.

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