Steel Cut Coffee aspires to be a neighbourhood coffee shop on wheels. “I’ve always had a passion for coffee, and have wanted to open up a coffee shop for a long time,” says owner Janet Chant. When she and business partner Sarah McKee decided to finally make the leap and open their own place two years ago, Chant says, food trucks were starting to pick up steam in the city. “The two ideas came together, and we decided to open up a coffee truck.”
After two years of work and planning (including importing a Citroen minibus from France), Steel Cut finally hit the road this past May. Since then, they’ve been a hit with folks at different events around town looking for a caffeine jolt. They deal solely in espresso-based beverages – no drip to be found here – using beans from Pig Iron, as well as locally-blended teas from Pluck. “We’ve just had rave reviews about the coffee that we’re serving, so that’s really gratifying,” Chant says. But it may be the breakfast offerings that really set them apart — in fact, their signature oatmeal inspired the name of the truck.
“Our breakfast menu features steel-cut oatmeal, which we think is fantastic. I personally eat it every day,” Chant says. “It kind of sticks to your ribs and gets you through til noon.” They’ll let you top it off with your choice of nuts, seeds, fruit, raisins, brown sugar, and maple syrup sourced from Chant’s cousin’s farm. “You can decide what you wanna put on your oats, and then we add a little bit of steamed milk and you’re good to go for the day.”
There’s also a solid selection of house-made baked goods. “We’ve actually subletted a bakery, and we do all our own baking that we serve on the truck,” Chant says, adding McKee is an “amazing baker”. “Sarah bakes up some pretty delicious loaves, like a blueberry-lemon-yogurt loaf or a chocolate zucchini loaf. We do banana bread. She does some amazing scones.” During the afternoon, they’ll bring out cookies (including salted chocolate chip) and squares, and for special events, they’ll sometimes pick up some special treats, like a selection of donuts from Von when they recently served at TURF.
They’ve only been on the road for two months, but the truck’s already been a popular pick for businesses looking to do some inexpensive, whimsical breakfast catering for their employees. Their ultimate plan, however, is to find a regular spot to park Monday to Friday at breakfast, and then travel to events on evenings and weekends: “We kind of want to be that neighbourhood coffee shop in a place where there isn’t a neighbourhood coffee shop.”