Rustle & Still features high-end Vietnamese coffee made from Arabica beans, as well as pastries and banh mi.
People like a good coffee backstory with their cup of coffee these days. Newly opened cafe Rustle & Still on Bloor St. W. near Bathurst St. delivers.
The oasis-like spot — heavily decorated with plants, which are meant to rustle as you walk by them and create a sense of calm, hence the cafe’s name — features high-end Vietnamese coffee.
“We both love coffee and we both love plants,” says Tri Ngo, who owns this place with his wife, Hang Vu, both 30.
Both hail from Vietnam, the second biggest producer of coffee in the world, just behind Brazil. Who knew? The country grows mostly Robusta beans, which are used mostly in instant coffee, while just 5 per cent of production is higher quality Arabica beans — the type we prefer for drip or espresso-based drinks.
Meanwhile, people know Vietnamese coffee as the iced drink loaded with condensed milk. “We want to introduce people to a different side of Vietnamese coffee,” says Ngo.
As a coffee shop focusing on Vietnamese single-origin bean coffee, the duo is working with a nonprofit called Filanthrope that connected them to coffee growers in Vietnam growing Arabica. They import raw beans directly and send them to Hatch Coffee Company, where they are custom roasted on a weekly basis.
While Ngo focuses on the coffee, Vu is the food and taste explorer here. It was she who put together the cafe’s most innovative hot drinks, the Matcha Panda Latte ($4.90) and the Purple Sweet Potato Latte (also $4.90).
She also darts back into the kitchen and puts together the cafe’s freshly baked pastries and banh mi offerings (a lemongrass pork option sells for $7.80 as does a vegan sandwich that features mushrooms).
Both grew up in Vietnam, but didn’t know each other. Ngo’s grandparents had an orchard and grew some coffee. “I knew I’d have to do something with coffee some day.”
Then both came to Canada to study: Ngo to York for business and economics while Vu got her degree in chemistry at the University of Toronto. They met through a Vietnamese student organization.
Both had office jobs for six years, but soon wanted something new. Vu quit her pharmaceutical job to get experience working with food at a busy Markham coffee shop. Ngo walked away from HR consulting to do barista training and started a meet-up group for people who wanted to launch coffee-related businesses.
The idea for this concept grew, and the two decided that this strip of Bloor would be ideal: it’s Little Korea, in theory, but more unique concepts inspired by all of Asia — as well as Indigenous businesses — are cropping up here. “People here are open to try new things.”
Since opening in March, the coffee shop has drawn busy lunch and weekend crowds. Customers are clearly attracted to the indoor-outdoor vibe, the tasty food and the discovery of a new coffee taste and story.
By DIANE PETERS, this was first posted on The Star