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Cafes

Si Espresso Bar

Posted by Dar Mustafa / Posted on December 2, 2009

Si Espresso BarSi Espresso Bar, like a well-brewed Americano (which they've got here, incidentally), is the source of more fun and energy than you would expect to be contained in one, little china mug. Or one little neighbourhood coffee stop, as the case may be -- especially when that neighbourhood is so far from your own.

Si Espresso Bar

Si Espresso BarOwner Egidio, or "Edge" as he's better known, clearly loves his coffee and loves sharing it with his kindred customers. Just how kindred? They all seem to match his biting wit, and some his propensity for kickass names - "call me Mercy," one in particular says, as casually as though she'd actually said "Sue."

Si Espresso BarAs a working actor who has been in the game for twenty years, Edge's gift for clever banter and more one-liners than I could possibly recount here ("use them all," he shrugs) is uncommon and highly entertaining. Interactions with his regulars (which they, literally, all seem to be) are loaded with familiarity, genuine kindness and endless enjoyment on both ends.

Si Espresso BarSuch traits manifest themselves in acts like the delivery of tea to an elderly woman, who waits out front with her walker. I get the sense that this is a daily ritual. "This place is my home, these people are my family," he says more than once. "I'm not doing this to get rich."

Si Espresso Bar

Si Espresso BarAs for me, I like my coffee as I like most things in life: laid back. The coffee is far too strong and bold to fall under this label itself, but the delivery could not be any more so. I know there is no discernible reason for the process to be mired in formalities - particularly first thing in the morning. Edge agrees. "Don't be pretentious with me," he says in his calm, but no-nonsense manner, to those who might be tempted.

Si Espresso BarThe interior is impeccably devoid of nonsense. With no room or need for tables, a smattering of stools really facilitates the social atmosphere. While a smattering of treat decisions, including scones and muffins from old standby Circles and Squares, a couple of mini (and large) cakes, and those delectable-looking Amaretti that Mercy swears she's addicted to - helps those of us who tend to be indecisive.

Si Espresso Bar"Don't try and tell me what I want," he says to those who have tried before. "I'm Italian, I've been drinking coffee since I was five years old. I know what I want." It's that confidence that pervades every inch of this lovely establishment, giving it an energy so unique in this city; the unmistakable vibe of having nothing to prove.

Si Espresso BarThough the next part of my day involved visiting a brand new baby(!) I find it hard to leave; it just feels like I'm gonna miss something if I duck out too early, with all the interesting people coming in and out, (many artists, industry people and even two folks who had lived in Brampton before) constantly mixing up the conversation. It seems like I'm missing out on something every day, and I guess I'm just gonna have to accept that, or start taking the scenic route to work more often.

Si Espresso Bar

Si Espresso Bar

Discussion

25 Comments

Jo / December 2, 2009 at 09:56 am
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We certainly get a detailed look at this place and have a stronge sense of its laid-back ambience and friendly vibe. However, your review of the actual coffee is limited to one line that the coffee is "far too strong and bold" to be laid back.

Sorry to be a killjoy, but it would be helpful to have more details about the drinks themselves. How's the espresso? Does he make a mean latte? and so on...
Graham / December 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm
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I live down the street from there and I went in one day. I can't comment on the coffee (as I haven't had one), but I found the espresso was a little watery and a bit on the weak side, with little to no crema (I can't believe I just used that in a sentence). If you can stand the lines, I'd just rather go up the street to Broadview Espresso for a stronger brew.

"Edge" was giving fantastic service and he seems like a great dude, but the coffee for me was so-so.
hbr / December 2, 2009 at 12:49 pm
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Great review and thanks for bringing this place to my attention,the reader does indeed get a true sense of this establishments atmosphere....One bone to pick however.The title confused me in it's suggestion that it is a Danforth cafe when in fact it's on the Loblaws side of Broadview(a street with an entirely different , almost stale and lifeless, flavour).We don't call that the Danforth's Loblaws do we?...suggesting the name Danforth in the headline tends to borrow from the characters exhibited by Danforth establishments, which businesses on Brodview share not one once in.
Japhet / December 3, 2009 at 03:06 am
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I enjoyed the espresso; mine was short and strong. The blueberry muffin was also fairly tasty and I'm no muffin man.
jamesmallon / December 5, 2009 at 07:26 pm
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Now I know why that dude looks oddly familiar: character actor. Is it inappropriate to mention the other barista is very lovely?

My americano was very good, the service was neither more nor less than I wanted (which is how I like it: be polite, but don't act like I'm your date), and the tarts were good.

I'll dare to get a long machiatto next time. If he can pull that I'll go nowhere else in this town, as I've only got that made right in two locations (Linux and somewhere in Little Italy) and never twice in the same location.
Sarah / December 17, 2009 at 04:22 pm
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I've lived near the Danforth for more than 8 years, and I've been dying for a place just like this to open up. Great coffee, great character -- and the writer really sums up the vibe just right.

To me, this place is a Danforth kinda place, so I disagree with the other reviewer. Edge and his shop have just as much (if not more) character and life than can be found 20 feet away on the Danforth.

Keep it up, Edge!


Carl / December 18, 2009 at 03:23 pm
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The espresso is by far the best in the hood, and perhaps Danforth and Leslieville combined. It's better than Mercury, Broadview Espresso, Dark Horse and Te Aro, in my opinion.

For some. Edge might be off putting, because he's brash, straightforward and chatty. I like him myself. He's gloriously Italian.

Espresso is a highly variant creature, and it's not easily tamed. There are too many variables, so every shop is capable of giving gold and giving you mud. The best places strive for consistentcy, and still have lousy coffee. Edge knows how to pump good espresso. The rest is fluff.
Phil / December 18, 2009 at 06:10 pm
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After my third visit, I have to say I agree with everything Carl says. Great coffee served up by a straight-from-the-hip barista who clearly knows his stuff. I even learned a thing or two more today about coffee (and why my cheap $30 coffee grinder just ain't cutting it). Some might find the coffee on the strong side. I ordered a latte a while back with two shots of espresso, which my girlfriend found was too strong. Will go with one next time. Anyway, I'm glad this place opened. It's always been surprising to me why there've been no good places to get a coffee around the Danforth.
Arby / January 2, 2010 at 01:16 am
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Si is actually in a nice spot. Doesn't Egidio appreciate that? I stopped by once at 4:30 on a Sunday and saw him inside, but he must have been closed because his bar seats were up. Recently, on a Thursday, I came by just after 11:00am and the shop was closed. There was only signage indicating hours. The shop was supposed to be open. A man approached just after I had a look at the posted hours and we acknowledged each other. He commented that he came by for a first try and was not at all impressed.

I'm not sure the owner's heart is in the business. I've chatted with him a few times. And it's frustrating. If he doesn't want to be compared with upscale shops which serve culinary coffee - which he's more or less stated - then fine. But it's irrelevant. If you don't look after your business, whatever you want it to be, it won't look after you. Then again, He's made a real effort to do a lot of things right. He's worked hard, according to him, to get his espresso right. It must be true. His espresso is good, and that's not going to happen accidentally. So I figure he's sort of schizophrenic about his new biz. He wants to do it 'and' he's not sure he wants to do it.

Egidio's a very friendly fellow - unless you know coffee and talk shop with him. Then he tends to look uncomfortable and, to a degree, he talks nonsense to you. It almost seems deliberate, as though he doesn't have patience for people who aren't happy with what he's done and wants to do. But he needs to relax, in my view.

I don't believe the baristas are properly trained. The one time I had a macchiato, the woman had no idea how to make one. She had no clue about micro foam. Nice person though. I've got no issues with the people. They're all great, even Egidio, who maybe just needs more sleep.

The eats look good. I've only tried the marzipan, or whatever it is. It's awesome.

Egidio should send his baristas to Dark Horse or Te Aro to try their macchiatos and maybe get an idea how to make them properly. If his espresso is good, then he can go all the way. The distance is neglible. He can claim to be a simple, not fancy, coffee shop, if that makes him happy, and everyone will win because his simple coffee shop will be dynamite and he'll get business.

And be open when you're suppose to be dude! ;-)
Egidio Tari / January 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm
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Thank you for your recent comments about Si Espresso Bar...I do welcome all opinions about my place,and I assure you that I do listen and take my business very seriously...Although It would have been nice to have spoken to you in person about any issues you may have had, I understand that you may have not been comfortable in doing so. You are entitled to your opinions, even though I strongly disagree...you are always welcome to drop by and chat with me and enjoy a coffee on the house....and maybe i will introduce you to the many customers that enjoy our establishment, and are former customers of the above listed coffee houses you speak of

Thank you
Egidio Tari
Owner Si Espresso Bar
Arrby / January 7, 2010 at 01:06 am
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Egidio. It doesn't look like you like criticism. Trust me, I'm extremely polite and friendly. I can think of the kind of posts that someone who is targetted by them would have a real problem with. I'm not with them. I have no interest in antogonizing anyone. I will stop by again. You have to realize that this is the nature of reviews. What good are they if they only blow sunshine at you no matter what weaknesses are evident? And there is no rule that says I'm always right, which I'm okay with. So don't sweat it.

You must know who I am. I leave my website url for folks to view.

Seriously, You strongly disagree with my reporting that your shop was closed when I said it was? I didn't make that up. You weren't specific about what you strongly disagreed with. But I'm not asking for that. I want you to be comfortable. It's up to you what degree of criticism you want to accept. You've invested a lot of physical, emotional and monetary capital in your venture. When I look - just look - at what's involved in starting a small business, I feel like feinting. I don't want you to feel my criticisms as weights on your head. There's enough of that in life. I want you to get from your business what it gives, namely smiles. I've already seen that at your cafe. (Maybe I needed to mention it.) That's what coffee shops should be about.

You answered one question for everyone. You're not schizophrenic about your biz. You'll be okay, whether or not you do coffee the rest of your life.

Best wishes.
David replying to a comment from Arrby / January 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm
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I really don't think that BlogTO is around to have comments like yours that are so personal and sharp. No one that opens up a cafe needs to have someone picking apart a very new business, if someone is rude to you, fine, if you don't like it, fine, but to just come out and make sweeping comments on an extremely public comment board is so reckless, careless, and thoughtless. Give feedback if you had a great coffee or a bad coffee, but we're not looking for your personal insight and breakdown of this cafe in this manner. I'm not sure what else to say, but don't you have any common sense or an inner voice that says when something is inappropriate or not?

To put it simply, what you posted "That's not cool".
Arby replying to a comment from David / January 8, 2010 at 08:53 am
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Well David, Don't you think that 'that' was heavy? I do.

You may be right about the fluffiness of the blogTO (which would make it more commercially useful). I don't think you have the right, however, to demand that I be fluffy like this blog. As well, If I happen to take coffee more seriously than you do, that doesn't mean I have no place in a fluffy forum about coffee. Nor does it mean that my deeper, hopefully well presented, comments are mean. You may be confusing 'mean' with 'informed and serious'. I take my fun seriously. Is that a crime?

I can't help you David.

Too cool is indeed cold.
David replying to a comment from Arby / January 8, 2010 at 09:21 am
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Okay, let me clarify a few things:

- I never made any point to blogTO being "fluffy", it is a daily blog site and not the Fifth Estate though.
- Your comments weren'"deeper, informed", or "serious", I don't think anybody wants someones cheap "I took Phycology in university" opinions of the owner of a cafe and what you believe he feels about his business, he paid for that space, we registered the company, he built the place, who are you to step in for a slice of time and pass judgement on presumed intentions.
- "I can't help you David", thanks please don't, I'm sure in some sick way you think you're helping Si Espresso.
- "I take my fun seriously. Is that a crime?", No, but it also explains why yo think it's normal to write a 439 word comment posting about a cafe. Not a crime, but just weird.

Also nobody knows "who you are", or care about a link to your website, we are not all crazy internet people who have bizarre websites that are only interesting to themselves. How many comments are posted on your website? I had trouble finding any. Some people that have their own blogs actually feel the need to be interesting, kudos to bucking that trend. I guess the world needs terrible, wordy, self-indulgent blogs to show us the truly great ones. Thanks for taking one for the team.
Arby / January 8, 2010 at 10:22 am
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As you wish David. Don't send me a Christmas card I guess. I'm going to get back onto coffee myself.
David replying to a comment from Arby / January 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm
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A little late for the Christmas card reference, and good luck getting "back onto coffee". That makes so much sense.
James replying to a comment from Arby / January 10, 2010 at 09:58 am
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I'm with you Arby!! I think your review is extremely fair, and I appreciated your comments. Obviously the owner, and his sidekick David, are taking it a bit too seriously.
Robert replying to a comment from James / January 10, 2010 at 10:39 am
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that James and Arby are the same person. Who responds with an "I'm with you Arby!!"? Are you that excited over a post about a cafe? Really? From my perspective Arby is the one taking it a bit too seriously.
Arby / January 10, 2010 at 10:49 am
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Thanks James. Take a tip from me and ignore the flamers. You're fairly safe with me. I know a lot of the people - shop owners and baristas - in the coffee biz. They know who I am and what I'm about. If you're with me, you're okay.

It's not worth it to engage the flamers. Sometimes they do draw you in though. It's a shame too, because they take something good like coffee and coffee shops, which this worldly could always use more of, and bring the evil out there into it. That's just what we need, Nowhere to get away from evil, hate and violence.
David / January 10, 2010 at 11:19 am
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Dude, you are the guy writing the massive diatribe about a cafe and it's intentions.

"Egidio's a very friendly fellow - unless you know coffee and talk shop with him"

What the hell does that even mean. I don't think that you do know coffee shops and baristas. I'm a young guy, I have time to waste on stuff like this, I'm not an over-50-year old guy commenting on a public boards, calling out an owner for things like conversational skills. You're not getting this, but nothing I've said is "evil, hateful", or "violent".

The problem is you are taking a good thing like a cafe or espresso bar and imposing your beliefs and thoughts on someone else's business. Maybe, just maybe, they opened with something else than what you thought it should be.

Also, a flamer is "A person who deliberately makes inflammitory or slanderous posts on internet message boards for the purpose of starting a flame war." I believe that you wrote the first post, remember that 439 word essay up there? And that I'm just trying to defend what I believe to be the misguided intentions of posters that don't realize that this is a public forum and that regardless of your ability to write whatever you want, there should be some common sense.

Ie. It would be inappropriate to mention an employee by name and say something like they smelled bad.

or mentioning an employee by name and saying that they have a problem holding a conversation with someone.

Understand yet? Or is there going to be another email from you sitting in a cafe around toronto, using their wifi to criticize how little an employee knows about micro foam. Go to Italy and ask a barista about micro-foam, see what they say. "micro schiuma? ridicolo!"

Also, "You're fairly safe with me..." and "..If you're with me you're okay?", what they hell are you saying? What does that mean? You want to talk about awkward conversation, that's awkward.
Coffee fan / March 1, 2010 at 11:50 pm
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I think Si Espresso is the best addition to the Danforth in a while! My partner and I have become regulars, and are quite pleased with the high quality of the coffee available. Prices are cheaper than some of the other neighborhood coffee shops, such as the Rooster across from Riverdale Park or Te Aro/Dark Horse/etc on Queen East. I particularly appreciate the lack of pretension in Si Espresso, which means that people seeking micro-foam or whatever it is called are best served elsewhere. xoxo
lil / July 30, 2010 at 09:49 am
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Finally... REAL coffee, the way it should be.. grazie mille!
kathy messenger / October 23, 2011 at 02:38 pm
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Servie was bad. Capuccino was sour and cold. My Americano was dilutted. Man who served it did not seem to concened about his work. Spent too much time talking with friends and did not acknowledge you as a customer. Will neve go back again..This place is bad for the area. DO NOT GO !!!
Buon caffe replying to a comment from kathy messenger / October 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm
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Someone should really update this .... Let you all in on something .......Si espresso bar e pasticeria is what it's called with a new owner . Who truly loves his espresso. Along with all the great in house Italian pastries and more . Fun place to be not to mention great cappuccino and espresso. Served in Italian espresso and cappuccino cups with WHITE saucers !!!!!!! A place you have to try.
Matt / December 11, 2012 at 05:11 pm
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Nice place. Just need to turn the music down a bit.

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