BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – This month’s Koffman Innovations segment spotlights a Binghamton University alum who brought a popular drink with college students to the BU campus.

2nd Heaven is located in the University Union food court.

It sells as many as 200 varieties of bubble tea, when you consider the different tea, flavoring and toppings options.

Bubble tea was originated in Taiwan.

It begins with fresh brewed tea from various traditional blends such as black tea, green tea, Earl Grey and Thai.

Then you choose between milk teas and juice teas.

Finally, you have a choice of toppings, that actually sink to the bottom of the cup.

Tapioca pearls are traditional, but you can also choose a variety of jellies, including lychee, passion fruit and mango.

Co-owner Leighton Blackwood enjoyed bubble tea growing up in New York City and missed it when he came to BU.

“My friends and I, we were all from New York City, and we came to Binghamton for college. We found that even though we loved getting bubble tea in the city, it was super hard to get it up here. We didn’t have cars at the time, and to jump on a bus and go off campus, spend like an hour round trip just to get a cup of bubble tea wasn’t really worth it for us.”

As a sophomore, Blackwood approached the university about launching a bubble tea shop.

The pandemic stalled those discussions, so in October of 2020, the School of management student started selling bubble tea at the Broome County regional Farmers Market on Saturdays.

In the Summer of 2021, he started receiving support from the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator in the form of mentorship and grant opportunities.

And in the Fall of 2021, he and his partner Darren Shi were granted a coveted spot in the food court.

Blackwood says his ingredients make all the difference.

“A lot of bubble tea shops in the industry use 3-in-1 powders. We actually decided to stray away from that and use real tea, real milk, real sugar, things like that. We start out every day brewing real tea in the morning and we go from there.”

Blackwood says some of his most popular flavors include Thai, passion fruit and mango.

With the help of the Koffman, 2nd Heaven is looking to open a second location at SUNY Cortland and even franchise the business.

And he’d like to find a way to sell to the Greater Binghamton community when BU is not in session.

When it is in session, 2nd Heaven’s hours are Monday through Friday from 11 to 8 and weekends 2 to 8.

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