Tiny pop-up Ca Phe Vietnamese Coffee House is just about to pour its first cup inside the doors of Chinatown House at 188 East Pender Street. The new project from childhood friends Minna Van and Andrew Han is set to open this week in the neighbourhood they grew up together in.
Minna will be focusing on the coffee side of the operation, importing the coffee from Vietnam and using phins to make properly strong Vietnamese coffee (traditionally roasted with butter and a little rum), equally strong iced coffee, Indonesian-style avocado coffee, and North Vietnamese-style egg coffee (textured with egg whites). Andrew will be making sweet treats like spiced chocolate hoisin swirl brownies with Vietnamese coffee salted caramel; brown butter matcha and cream cheese swirl blondies with black sesame caramel; and black sesame chocolate chip cookies. (I’ve tried them, and they’re delicious!)
Here are some excerpts from the launch announcement…
“Growing up in Chinatown, we were able to witness, experience, and live the life of immigrant children in Canada, all while maintaining our heritage,” says Van, The Network Hub co-founder who has been working with Chinatown House since its inception. “Ca Phe is truly our version of heart, home, and heritage through sense of taste. From my coffee to Andrew’s sweet creations, we cannot wait to see what customers think and feel when they step foot in Ca Phe.”
“Chinatown is a special community that holds a very special place in my heart,” says Han, an accomplished pastry chef consultant. “It was where I developed my appreciation for Asian food and ingredients, and where I got to connect with my heritage. At Ca Phe, I want to bring back some of the authenticity, the history, and the flavours and experiences I had growing up in a modern way, while paying homage to the Chinatown I knew as a kid.”
The 16-seat Ca Phe Vietnamese Coffee House is expected to pop-up until mid-Spring. It is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 11am until the coffee and sweets run-out. Coffee prices start at $3.80 and sweets start at $3.75. As it is located in a coworking space, people can sip and snack while working on the laptops.
Sadly, Ca Phe is only here until some point in April. Minna hinted at a possible brick and mortar spot in the future, and I’m really hoping this is true because the coffee is that good. In the meantime, hustle down to Chinatown and taste the stuff for yourself!