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CSI Coffee Pub

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on June 8, 2012

CSI Coffee PubCSI Coffee Pub is a new coffee house (no forensics involved — I know that's what you were thinking) situated on the ground floor of the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex.

Funny enough, the new cafe has been stationed less than 10 feet from a ready supply of free coffee, available to all CSI members. But that hasn't seemed to matter much; CSI Coffee Pub has been pulling espressos practically nonstop since it opened for business about four months ago.

CSI Coffee PubThe Centre for Social Innovation is a communal workspace where members pay for a particular package that suits their individual needs. There are three CSIs in Toronto, but this one on Bathurst is the host of the newly minted CSI Coffee Pub.

CSI Coffee PubThere's no dividing line separating the cafe from the workspace, which poses a bit of a problem. CSI Coffee Pub is open both to CSI members and people off the street, but the workspace, technically, is for members only. In other words, you're really not supposed to grab a latte and pull out your laptop and work away the afternoon (though the WiFi password is plastered on the wall) unless you're a CSI member, though staff has not (and will not) ask anyone to leave. That's just not their schtick. But the issue is complicated by the fast that CSI Coffee Pub does not do take-out, meaning you pretty much have to sit down to enjoy that latte (unless you bring your own cup).

CSI Coffee Pub"We're still trying to figure it all out," barista Jordan says, fielding my questions while owner and manager Erin steps out to run errands. "We want to make the space available to everyone, without cheapening the value of a CSI membership."

CSI Coffee PubThe cafe certainly has its appeal. While I'm not sure what's brewing in the free carafe on the next counter, CSI Coffee Pub sources its beans from Merchants of Green and offers fresh sandwiches ($7.50), soups ($5.50), and salads ($6.00), along with baked goods from OMG. Green is the cafe's principle (hence the no take-out), with a bar made from recycled barn board and bread for the sandwiches delivered fresh from Woodlot by bicycle each day.

CSI Coffee PubI enjoy an Americano ($2.25), which comes rich with a thick reddish-brown crema and bold, earthy flavour, while Jordan tells me a little more about the cafe. "Our meats for our sandwiches come from Rowe Farms and our milk is organic," he says, adding that customers have the option of almond or soy milk with no extra charge. "We're really focused on natural and organic wherever possible."

CSI Coffee PubFor those who have spent the day at CSI and are looking for a little caffeine-free detox, the cafe also offers a green smoothie ($4.50) and vegan eats, such as its multigrain sandwich with dandelion pesto, cucumber, sprouts, tomatoes, and other veggies. The cafe is currently open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. (look out for breakfast specials!) to 6:00 p.m., though Jordan says hours may change. Of course, when you find yourself in need of a jolt and it's after hours, there's always the free coffee — just a few paces over.

CSI Coffee PubPhotos by Morris Lum



awesome replying to a comment from Adorno / June 8, 2012 at 03:16 pm
good thinkin'
Erin Cluley / June 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm
Thanks for the lovely profile! I'd like to make some really important corrections and additions here, though:
-My name is Erin, I am the owner of the Coffee Pub at Centre for Social Innovation. Robyn says I "went for a walk", but I was actually riding my bike to run errands for the Coffee Pub, which I do once a day for 45 minutes during my 12-13 hour work day. Robyn came unannounced- I'd been waiting for a call from her all week to tell me when she was coming. I was really looking forward to meeting and talking to her, so I rode back as quickly as possible and missed her by 30 seconds, literally. I asked blogTO 3 times to have her call.
-We are our own company within Centre for Social Innovation and have set up shop in their amazing, good-vibin' space. While CSI is a place for paying members, the ground floor level IS open to visitors now that we've come in. We are working with them to make the transition from "members only" to "visitors welcome" in a non-invasive way to the paying members. That means the "free for members only" coffee hasn't moved yet, but is due to make its way to another floor of the building where only paying CSI members can access it. In July, the newly built meeting rooms on the ground floor level- next to our shop- will be bookable online by anyone who wants to reserve one, so we're using that as our deadline to be ready for an influx of non-CSI members. We plan to provide catering for these rooms once they are up and ready.
-We have been open for 4 months, not 2.
-We don't offer paper cups, but you may certainly take our coffee to-go if you have a travel mug with you. Coffee is super portable! In fact, many of our small business neighbours take our in-house mugs with them back to work and bring them back to us the next day! It is our mission to create a paradym shift in the coffee industry, which is currently responsible for huge amounts of paper product waste. We think that people deserve better than that :)
-Our sandwiches and full lunch menu were just launched earlier this month. Sandwiches are $7.50 and come with a side of greens from the New Farm in Creemore. In fact, we know exactly where all the produce we use comes from... small farms within about 100km of Toronto. And yes, bread from Woodlot gets picked up daily by bike by me or one of our two staff- Jordan and Andrew. We also pick up our meat by bike from Rowe Farms on Bloor in Annex too.
Hope to see you at our counter! We promise an awesome and most delicious experience, complete with smiles!
Erin Cluley / June 10, 2012 at 01:08 pm
Hey where'd my comment with corrections go? Too long? I'd love to have the correct info and some really important additions on here, though.
-Erin, owner of CSI Coffee Pub
Erin Cluley / June 10, 2012 at 01:27 pm
Sweet.. it's back! Temporary glitch? Anyway, thanks!!
n / June 10, 2012 at 09:27 pm
i'm really looking forward to trying this spot on my lunch break! love the no disposables and local produce.. this is exactly what the neighbourhood needs.
see you soon!
ROWE FARMS SCAM / June 11, 2012 at 08:05 am
FYI, ROWE FARMS USES NITRITES IN THEIR FOOD which is much more stronger oxidizing agent than nitrates and hence increases the total concentration of nitrosamines (a known carcinogen).
amirad / June 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm
I can't even stress how awesome this coffee shop is! The owner, Erin, and the baristas, Jordan and Andrew, are all amazing and make the most delicious drinks. They are friendly and greet you with a smile everyday. The recent addition of sandwiches has been great too. Healthy and fresh meals, as well as all local ingredients.
n replying to a comment from ROWE FARMS SCAM / June 11, 2012 at 03:41 pm
not all rowe farms products have nitrates, only a few of their sliced meats from what i remember seeing.
Deborah / June 12, 2012 at 03:54 pm
Came in looking for lunch and wi-fi. The bagel was burnt, cream cheese was abundant but the wi-fi didn't work for over 40 minutes, then it was on and off for the rest of the afternoon. The glass of water I received was sweating all over the unfinished wood tables and there were no coasters.
Courtney Joy / November 28, 2012 at 11:48 am
This place is amazing! I'm not a member, but I really loved my Americano and the environment! Thanks Erin for the update on the blogTO app- appreciated knowin I was welcomed.
Dale / December 13, 2012 at 11:09 am
I'd have to agree with the positive comments for CSI Coffee Pub. The space is immense yet cosy, the sandwiches were delicious, the coffee was excellent and the staff (and Erin) were welcoming and friendly.
janet dimond / January 8, 2013 at 04:07 pm
nice review--but perhaps doesn't give the CSI Cafe the justice it deserves ;)) We participated in a market every Tuesday there (At Annex CSI) last winter/spring and had the warmest reception from Erin who was just starting the cafe. She was totally behind all of the food vendors and wanted (and did) bring a number of our products into the cafe. Erin was easily one of the most enthusiastic and supportive clients we have had (I own 'Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops'). Just wanted to give her the props she deserves--extremely committed to local + sustainable + delicious ;)
Steve / March 16, 2013 at 11:07 am
Erin is so sweet. Actually, the whole staff is awesome as is the space and coffee/food. My only minor suggestion is to get some better seating, and perhaps put some note or something on the big tables, since it's often the case that 1 person will be taking up an entire table for 10, and mean while a large group is forced to sit at the weird metal tables. I'll bet some better seating and this place could hold hundreds of happy customers and members too.
Bob / June 7, 2013 at 07:30 pm
They now have a 1 hour wifi limit and you have to get a sign in code. Too bad. It was a great place before this.

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