Category Archives: Coffice Space

Jimmy’s (107 Portland)

Look at me, workin’ with the green matcha latte in the perfect space

As you walk up Portland Street from King, you will have a choice of coffice spaces: on your left, Jimmy’s; on your right, Jimmy’s. You can sit in one and look across at the other.

The Jimmy’s on the left, at 100 Portland, is the original. It has multiple storeys and a pocket patio in the front. If you are like me, you will go in, look, see that it is too busy, and come out and cross the street. Every time so far.

The Jimmy’s on the right, at 107 Portland, is the newer of the two. Newer to Jimmy’s, that is. It’s not a new building. And it, too, offers you multiple choices. If you’re lucky and there’s room in the room you want.

Walk up and there’s a small front patio and, trust me, it’s not where you’d sit and work if you’re anything like me. Keep going.

The hipness is intense

Walk in the front door and you’re at the espresso bar and it’s noisy and chatty and there’s music playing. There are three small tables and a bench. The place has all the modern shiny brightness of a pub in the old part of Cork, which is to say almost none. And that’s why you’re here. But if you’re feeling less social you may not feel like planting at one of those tables.

Looking over my shoulder as I walk on…

Walk through the back door of that and you’re in a room that’s like the thorax of an insect: not the front and not the back, but it holds it all together. There are tables on both sides and wall plugs and a big mural of Jimmy Hoffa and one window with no view. It’s a hallway but wider, like some lakes are really just a bit of a river that ate something big.

Yo, Jimmy

Out the back door of that and you get to an actual hall, with two washrooms.

On your right, pissoirs. Ahead, the promised land

Another door. Step down. On your right is a door to a small courtyard. You could sit there. It’s almost as big as the exercise yard for solitary confinement prisoners at the supermax penitentiary. I’m told. It has no table.

Sit and contemplate your life choices

Continue through that hallway, past Morrison and Hendrix in blue and black plus some plants, and you enter the true sanctuary, the place where I feel lucky if I can get a seat.

Especially if none of the other people in it are having annoying conversations. Like today.

One couple came down the hall an hour ago, chatting in that self-satisfied couple way, looked in here, declared it too quiet, and went back through the hall. Good. Bugger off.

(Photo taken on a slightly noisier day)

The stereo, omnipresent in the front two rooms, has no speakers back here. You can still hear it, washing down the hall like the frothy front of the surf, along with the ongoing chat of the baristas (and the banging that all espresso bars have), but it’s over there. You’re back here. The tapping of laptop keys is a more present sound. The chirping of nearby birds is your stereo effect.

This back room has a large four-seater table. It has benches with low tables and padded chairs with no tables. It has bookshelves with old encyclopedias. It has cute old machines like a coin-operated coffee machine and an ancient radio console. Neither is in operation. It has an oriental rug. Next to the hall door is a window onto the pocket courtyard. Opposite is a big window on the alley plus a double backdoor with windows. The sunlight falls at angles and is as present as the front-room noise.

Such a space

It is, in short, one of the most perfect work spaces I have found in all Toronto coffice-space-dom.

Don’t come here. I don’t want to keep finding it full.

If you do come here, don’t talk. There are two other rooms for that.

The birds around here are smart, by the way. I just saw one hopping around in the back room. It then flapped its wings, flew low through the doorway, into the hall, around the corner and outside, and up to the heavens. Clearly this is a place for birds that know how to be free and in control of their place in the world. And while it was in here, it, too, was quiet.

Sweat & Soda

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Not sure where they keep the soda

The only thing in the name of this place that doesn’t practically scream NOT A COFFEE JOINT is the &. And yet. Continue reading

Voodoo Child

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The house special

Listen to the audio of this on Patreon

I mean, you pretty much know what you’re getting into just from the name of the place, don’t you. But if that doesn’t tell you, look through the window or walk right in and see the narrow space, the bar on one side and the three little high-tops against the other wall, the one medium and one large table up in front. See the surfaces made from reused wood with peeling paint and engraved foliage. See the bottles behind the bar, which include many cute liquors but pointedly do not include vodka. See the floor, which is wood in a condition every bit as bad as the counter and tabletops. And if you still don’t get it, order their signature drink, a Voodoo Child, which is like a tighter version of a flat white served in a little glass skull. Continue reading

Nine Bars

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The working life

Hear the audio of this on Patreon, where you can also tip me for the tips!

The walls are alternating brick and panel, some painted white, some not; the tables are a mix of small two-person ones – no two of them identical, seven in total – plus a big heavy wooden high-top six-seater; the logo is painted big on one wall: a stylized lion shield with NINE BARS, whatever that means; the whole of it could be in some hip part of town and the place could be littered with hipsters, or it could be on a déclassé side of the city centre and packed with wage slaves. But this particular coffee joint is in Deer Park. It’s on St. Clair, just east of Yonge. It’s a good part of town to work if you’re a high-priced accountant. It’s a good part of town to live if you’re a high-priced accountant’s client. So the clientele here are largely a mix of quiet young ladies, guys in suits, and people well north of 50. Continue reading

Tandem

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It’s clean but… eclectic

Listen to the audio of this in tandem with the text and images

I’m sitting on some old crocheted thing provided to pad butts that have planted on the plywood here. Plywood is the theme of Tandem, in tandem with bare brick. There’s a bit of bench and counter at front, near the window, but most of the seating is at six square plywood tables arranged in front of two plywood benches along the side walls of the back. The tables also have one cheap chair each, of the kind found in underfunded schools and community centres: formed plywood on metal frames. Continue reading

The Dock on Queen St.

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Homey, if your home has a canoe hanging from the ceiling

Listen to the audio of this on Patreon. You really should, you know. It’s free and everything.

Nostalgic for the lakelands of cottage country? Wish you were sitting on the dock of the bay? Or perhaps you just want wood floors, wood tables, old-school wallpaper, comfy padded chairs, and a place that clearly has musical performances at the back some evenings and weekends? Obviously, you need to go to Queen East. There are plenty of coffice spaces in this stretch east of the tracks, and each one has its own variation. This one’s the cottage-style one. Its owners are from Sudbury. And you can sit in here and almost imagine you’re not in Toronto – just sit near the back and don’t look towards the window. Continue reading

Croissant Express

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Where else can you find this?

Listen to the audio of this – complete with the background fridge hum and radio – on Patreon, for free.

This place is a secret. Don’t tell anyone about it. I don’t want to come here one day and find it packed out with Toronto Life readers or retro-hipsters. This is one place I can come on a winter’s day where there is always room to work and it’s always warm. I’ve been holding off on even mentioning it. Continue reading