If you’ve ever spent a day in Kensington Market, then you’ve run into Alan Erdstein. The owner of the beloved Moonbean Coffee, you can generally find him in his shop as early as 7am, roasting beans and making some of the best tasting coffee in the city. We caught up with Erdstein to find out what he drinks when he’s not at Moonbean and what he loves most about the coffee business and Toronto.
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I am the owner of Moonbean Coffee Company retail roastery in Kensington Market. We opened in 1995, in what over the last 130 years has been a home to many immigrant families as well as a string of small businesses from small fruit stands to larger produce stores, trinkets, used clothing, jewellery and neighbourhood roastery cafes.
How did you get into the coffee business?
I got into business because it allowed me to use many levels of creativity from roasting distinctive coffees – fair-trade, organic, rainforest alliance, micro lots, direct relationship – as well as introducing a plethora of other products including unique loose leaf teas, house baked treats such as vegan and gluten free sweets, which were all quite rare in 1995. When you are a small independent business you have a large blank canvas that you can design any way you like; it’s your stamp.
What makes Moonbean Coffee special in your opinion?
We live in the internet age and I’ve been asked what is the specialty of Moonbean and my answer has always been the way you feel when you come in. Yes we offer wonderful products – you find me a cold blended Rooibos matcha vanilla chocolate chip drink anywhere and it’s free for you and a friend – but it’s the unassuming ambiance that welcomes everyone.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…of the endless possibilities.
What are three things you can’t live without?
The three things I can’t live without just doesn’t work for me. I am a minimalist at heart so if I am missing something that I need at a particular point in time I will find a way to make due.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
My favourite restaurant is any ethnic one that really transports you to a completely different mind-set. I am not referring to “eatertainment,” where a hospitality design firm creates a faux ambiance, but something with authenticity. Just look around: Does it really transport you to a time when you are in it?
Other than coffee, what’s your favourite drink and where do you get it?
Single malt scotch at my brother’s house.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with all your city-trotting?
My website moonbeancoffee.com, and there is a Facebook page independently run, but the best way is to stop by the store and chat. You can learn so much.