Reunion Island X Drake

Posted by Drake, January 18, 2016
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Adam Pesce is no rookie when it comes to coffee or The Drake Hotel. His father has been in coffee since 1978 + the family-owned business, Reunion Island Coffee, has been hustling in the roasting game in + around Toronto since 1995.After Adam’s father purchased a small business in the early 90s, Reunion Island Coffee was born and has stayed in the family since; Pesce says father is semi-retired but loves the trade too much to relinquish completely.

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While Pesce isn’t busy travelling the world visiting his farming partners + holding down the front lines of the business, he is busy winning or hosting trivia nights around the 6ix. Pesce has been a successful trivia night champion so frequently that he has forged a kinship with the hosts at The Drake + even co-hosted several trivia events. In fact, Pesce + his diverse squad of quizmasters are so accustomed to winning that they pool their winnings ($80 Drake Gift Cards) together for a culminating celebratory night of indulgences + libations (they currently have 6 cards on the go!).

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Pesce has been involved with the family coffee trade since he was a young’ing, helping the business become certified as a social enterprise B-Corp company, bringing an NGO mentality of sustainability + community engagement to their respective operations. In 2015 one of Pesce’s dreams came to life when he got a call about a piece of prime real estate on the beloved Roncesvalles strip while on business in the jungle in Guatemala. The deal was signed while Pesce was in the Middle East + demolition on the site began in early March 2015.

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Just a few months later Pesce’s piece de resistance, Reunion Island Coffee Bar, opened its doors on May 1st 2015. After spending eleven years in coffee shops in TO + around the world, Pesce knew exactly the type of climate + ambiance he wanted to create in his shop, down to the chic designer light bulbs. Pesce's hope for the coffee bar in its genesis + today, is that it becomes engrained into the lifeblood of the community + can become a 3rd space for its patronage. You have your home + your office + 385 Roncesvalles Ave. Although not a lifelong resident Roncey, after living in the area for five years, he knew this was the perfect site. Pesce sensed this could be a neighbourhood that would breathe a sense of community into the shop + would encourage people to stay awhile; the new MP for the area essentially set up a quasi-office in the back of the coffee bar during his campaign in the fall. Pesce also sees the coffee bar as a community space to act as a brand ambassador, a physical manifestation of the brand + a place for them to demonstrate the true quality of their roasts. “Only a masochist would open a coffee shop” Pesce admittedly confesses, yet for a Thursday afternoon, the place is teeming with conversation + keyboard tapping.

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For over four months Reunion has been providing their flagship blend Bullet, a 100% single origin direct trade coffee from Brazil, to all of the Drake Properties with 0.25 cents per bag of Bullet going to support Grounds for Health. Direct Trade + sustainability practices + Bullfrog Power + supporting NGO’s is nothing new to Reunion Island. Creating lasting relationships with farmers in over fifteen countries including Ethiopia, Columbia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Honduras, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sumatra + more, is simply ingrained in the business culture that makes Reunion Island distinctive + holistic in their approach.

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When asked what’s in store in the coming years for Reunion Island, Pesce humbly answers that they would like to grow while still thinking small, hiring for specialized skill sets + improving at everything they do instead of growing for the sake of taking up space. Their focus in 2016 will be on the direct consumer relationship they’ve been nurturing over the past year, as they transition from a B to B, and add a little B to C. Going paperless this year at their Roastery in Oakville + figuring out how to get the word out about their new line of tea sourced from South Africa, Oregon, China, + Kenya, and staying involved in food security in Toronto + partnering with local community food organizations are just a few small tasks on their list of to-do’s for 2016. If you’d like to catch Pesce himself, head to Roncey + check out the charming Reunion Island Coffee Bar where you’ll see him behind the bar most Saturdays + Sundays – it’s still one of his favourite things to do.

Follow Adam on Twitter here + Reunion Island here!.

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Posted in: People