I have been searching for the perfect coffee shop / cafe / quiet place for months, only to find myself ending up at one of the hundred Starbucks scattered around my block. It’s not that I don’t like Starbucks, it’s that I just don’t ever want to work in one. Aside from the obvious, I just can’t handle all that f*cking cheer. If i’m getting a cup to go, then bring on the holiday spirit. If I am planning on sitting down and doing some work however, the holiday mugs, the smell of Santa and the oversized hanging Christmas ornaments are just too distracting for my ADD to handle. Just because you are smiling when you hand me my overpriced soy milk latte does not mean that your WiFi is working OK?
It’s frustrating when you don’t have a place outside your home to get stuff done. Your very own coffee shop routine if you may. I mean, who doesn’t want to find a comforting nook in this big city that they can call their own? Even last week my good friend K (no, not Ketamine) told me that he is making it his mission to find a new coffee shop each weekend, and I don’t blame him one bit. The Toronto Reference Library isn’t too bad aside from the fact that nobody knows what silence is. And, i would work inside the plethora of U of T libraries but i’m too damn lazy to actually go get a student card ID, thus, no access to internet. So, i have wandered aimlessly through a sea of Starbucks, shitty WiFi and overcrowded coffee shops, searching for my one true cafe love.
Well, the search stops here. I have found CSI coffee pub & I think this relationship is one that is going to last (everyone says that in the beginning). CSI stands for the Centre for Social Innovation and claims to be a co-working space, community and launchpad for people who are changing the world. WTF is social innovation? CSI defines it as “new and renewed ideas for a radically better world.” If that isn’t convincing enough then you can head on over to Starbucks. Or better yet, i’m sure Tim Hortons will have room for you.
Not only do they provide an unreal coffee shop environment complete with vintage mismatched chairs, old- school coffee tables and worn out Venetian rugs, they also have shared workspaces and provide services to nonprofits & social entrepreneurs. Oh, and they have photocopiers.
The space is HUGE and industrial- like, yet has a warm and inviting atmosphere. WiFi is top- notch (ding ding ding). All you need is to grab a tiny sheet of paper from the help desk that has a login word on it, and BAM, you have a whole hour of grade A wifi (yes you can grab a new login each hour).
On top of the awesome space and decor, CSI coffee pub serves up made- to- order sandwiches and salads, homemade daily soups, local yogurt and smoothies, an assortment of baked goods and any hot or cold drink you desire poured directly into a pint glass. Note: drinking hot tea out of a glass is an acquired skill. It will take you at least 2-3 cups to learn to wait at least 5 minutes before sipping or else you will, without doubt, scorch your lips.
It is more than a coffee shop, it is a place that goes out of its way to enhance your creativity so that you can get the best out of your visit. There’s no cheesy ass smiles and whipped cream topping. They serve fresh, local food, they provide photocopiers and printers, and they play really awesome Indie music just loud enough to hear but not loud enough to drive you insane. Last saturday I played board games here for a good 6 hours, whereas yesterday I worked on a PR case study for the same amount of time. It is a space to just ‘be’ in, and is much much more than a coffee shop.
Oh, and the best part: they allow dogs inside. My life has been made.
You can find me at the Bathurst and Bloor location, however they have 3 CSI coffee pubs across Toronto and one location in the Big apple.