Plearn Cafe in Toronto is bringing Asia's hottest coffee trends to the city thanks to a barista all the way from Thailand.
Plearn Cafe (which is named for a portmanteau of "play" and "learn") near Church and Gerrard was opened by Patrick Suksaen and Wassawan "Earth" Chansopa in August 2022.
Suksaen also has a Thai restaurant called Koh Lipe in Baldwin Village, but has partnered up with Chansopa for this cafe venture.
"Wassawan is our head barista from Thailand. He is a coffee fanatic with years of experience, specializing in specialty coffee and non-coffee beverages," Suksaen tells blogTO.
"The name Plearn (play plus learn) was derived as we are situated within the proximity of various colleges and universities, so we want to create a community that everyone can embrace, whether you are a student or not. It truly is a place where everyone can come and enjoy a simple cup of coffee and enjoy each other's company. Also, the Thai meaning of Plearn is chilling, enjoy, smooth, fun."
Although it doesn't matter if you're a student or not when visiting the cafe, it is indeed patronized by lots of students and actually mostly staffed by them as well.
"Our staff are also highly trained in the process, where most are coffee connoisseur college students," says Suksaen.
"What sets ourselves apart from any other coffee shop is the attention to detail, making sure that every cup of coffee is perfect, from the water pH level, temperature to curating the best bean options and ingredients."
Even more than that, though, they're setting themselves apart by making Plearn a destination for trendy drinks that are blowing up in Asia but can't be found as many places here yet, like cloud lattes.
"Plearn's goal is to continue to be the trend setter in Toronto's coffee shop community," says Suksaen. "A lot of what we do already exists in various parts of Asia, so Earth's vision is to share the same experience with Toronto's third-wave coffee scene."
Their other signature drinks that go way beyond the average flat white include the Toron-ta-ro ($6.95) made with taro, purple yam, milk and marshmallow.
There's also the Sunny Matcha ($6.95) that combines matcha and orange juice, a Sunshine ($7.95) combining passion fruit juice and espresso and a Lychee Carno ($7.95) that puts together lychee and espresso.
More than just a cafe pushing the boundaries of caffeinated beverages, however, Plearn also functions as a restaurant serving a small but well-rounded food menu.
For smaller snacks, there are turkey summer rolls for $7.95 and truffle cheese wings for $8.95, and larger options include peanut curry chicken for $12.95.
The other larger items are coconut noodle pork ($12.95) and gyudon beef rice ($14.95).
A range of croffles is mostly sweet, with chocolate, coconut pandan and pineapple berry ($8.95) options, as well as one savoury smoked salmon option ($12.95).
Not to be ignored, a pastry case is packed with desserts like tarts and mousses that are just as creative and thoughtful as Plearn's colourful drinks.
If all that piques your interest, there's more to come as Suksaen says they should be continuing on to launch more seasonal menus.
They're also adding a patio in the warmer months where you'll be able to enjoy the sunshine...and drink it too.