Philly’s First Vietnamese Coffee Roaster Is Popping Up in Spring Arts
Try Vietnamese coffee drinks from Cà Phê Roasters on Spring Garden Street through mid-November.
Philly just got its first (and only) Vietnamese coffee roaster — and you can taste their brews at a pop-up cafe at 6th and Spring Garden for the next three weeks.
Cà Phê Roasters is serving Vietnamese coffees, lattes, and other espresso drinks made with beans sourced direct from Vietnam at 600 Spring Garden Street. The pop-up accompanies A Dream Deferred: Redlining Past, Present, and Future, an interactive exhibit by Little Giant Creative that’s being shown in the space through November 17th. The Frank Furness-designed former bank building was recently acquired by Arts + Crafts Holdings, the developer behind the Spring Arts district.
A year ago, owner Thu Pham was working at 12+, a nonprofit organization that supports kids in underserved Philly schools. She and 12+ founder Raymond John heard about the Kensington Avenue Storefront Challenge, a contest launched by socially-driven developer Shift Capital, to help revitalize the neighborhood’s Kensington Avenue corridor.
Pham had always wanted to open her own coffee shop, and she saw an opportunity not only to engage Kensington’s Vietnamese community but also to reconnect with her own heritage as a Vietnamese-American. She partnered with John and Abraham Kwon to launch the business and enter the contest, then won a year of free rent, business advice, and funds to renovate space for the roastery in Maken Studios at 3525 I Street.
Pham chose to focus on roasting because she wanted to highlight the craft aspect of Vietnamese coffee; the nation is the second-largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world. In Vietnam, the drink is brewed in a metal filter that sits atop a cup, similar to a pour-over setup, and the coffee drips down into sweetened condensed milk, which balances its deep flavor.
“Vietnamese beans are robust, with chocolatey, woody, caramel-y, chicory flavors,” said Pham, who’s handling day-to-day operations and roasting. “It’s a little different from the typical third-wave coffee profile.”
Cà Phê Roasters also has a social mission: the business will donate a portion of the proceeds from the pop-up and the roasting business to support programming at 12+, partner with local organizations and schools to host events and meetings in the roastery space, and provide coffee industry career training to underserved students, with a focus jobs beyond the typical barista role like roasting, green bean buying, and quality assurance.
“At 12+, we made a point of knowing the personal story of each student and using that story to help them grow personally or professionally,” Pham said. “I want to bring that to the roastery and foster a positive learning culture.”
Pham expects to be roasting in her Kensington space in the next month or so. While the roastery won’t include a retail space at this stage, she’s hoping to open her own cafe sometime in the near future and will be selling her beans to restaurants, shops, and specialty grocers for customers to brew at home in the meantime.
Try Cà Phê’s coffee along with sandwiches, salads, and sweets from Darnel’s Cakes at 600 Spring Garden Street on Wednesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. through Saturday, November 17th. Check out the coffee and food menus below (click to embiggen).