If you happen to venture onto the Rue des Tournelles, a calm street a few blocks away from the busy traffic circle around the historic Place de la Bastille square or the gracious Place des Vosges, you will be met by Yellow Tucan, a cafe that opened last fall. With large windows ensconced in a gracefully weathered wooden façade, the coffee shop’s namesake bird makes his first appearance on the glass front, greeting customers as they enter. Yellow Tucan’s tailored menu is anchored by coffee from Berlin’s excellent Five Elephant coffee roastery, which one may pair with a changing assortment of cakes and pastries sourced from the cafe's own lab, YT Kitchen. Rounding out the offerings are Halles Saint-Antoine fresh juices, Kodama teas, quiche, and organic Catherine Kluger granola.
In lieu of air conditioning, the iced coffee is bright-tasting and particularly refreshing in the summer heat, while espresso-based drinks with Beillevaire whole raw milk from Normandy or the chocolat chaud from master chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin are good options for a hot beverage. Visitors are free to sit outside on one of the two benches in front of the cafe, or to lounge indoors where there are plenty of small tables perfect for conversing with friends, spending time with a good book, or even working on a laptop thanks to the free wi-fi and outlets. The overall effect of the dainty vases of fresh cut flowers (even outside), framed photographs, and the yellow, white, and green palate brings harmony to the sun-filled space. If you look closely enough at the surroundings, the Yellow Tucan mascot is whimsically perched in various corners, sometimes hidden in plain sight.
A self-described fan of coffee shops, Yellow Tucan proprietor Vincent Rouvière always enjoys discovering new places to drink coffee in his home city of Paris and during his frequent travels around the world. Indeed, Rouvière says he's searched for good coffee everywhere from Seoul to London—and enjoyed exploring the neighborhoods surrounding these cafes as much as visiting the shops themselves. One day par hasard (by chance) he stumbled across a for rent sign on an empty commercial space in the well-known Parisian district of Le Marais. More on a lark than anything else, he called the phone number listed on the sign to see if the spot was still available to let.
By Rouvière’s recollection, everything fell into place quite quickly following that initial call. A few weeks of negotiating the terms of the lease later and the storefront was suddenly his. “I had never worked in a coffee shop,” said Rouvière. Lack of experience notwithstanding, there was no other choice but to dive headfirst into the challenging work of opening a cafe. Yellow Tucan welcomed its first customers in September 2017 after several busy months of building renovation, menu planning, intensive barista training, and bringing to life the design and cheery décor.
Prior to the opening of Yellow Tucan, Rouvière was a serial entrepreneur, immersed in the world of startups in France and involved in a wide range of businesses including a car service using solely electric and hybrid vehicles, and bringing international fashion design talents to present their collections and network in Paris. When asked what it was like to become a new cafe owner after wearing so many other hats, Rouvière responded with a laugh, saying, “I love entrepreneurship and different projects. However, before Yellow Tucan I never had a physical storefront on the street! It is a different experience.” Nevertheless, according to Rouvière, the lessons learned from his previous endeavors, in addition to the impressions formed from the many different cafes he toured as a customer, motivate him to provide friendly service and high-quality products. For Rouvière, “Yellow Tucan was intended as a place for calm, a location to work, chat, think about projects, soak in the atmosphere of Parisian life, and meet people.”
When asked about the name, Rouvière chuckles. “The toucan is beautiful, elegant, colorful, and friendly, which seems appropriate for a cafe where people can be social. Also, they are native to Central America, and can be found in places like Costa Rica, where some of the world’s best specialty coffees are produced.” Fittingly, Rouvière—the man behind the tucan—is as genial as the cafe’s namesake: customers can expect good coffee and friendly service in French (or English).
Michelle Hwang is a writer who splits her time between California, Paris, and Seoul. Read more Michelle Hwang for Sprudge.