This week on the Drake Blog, we’re revisiting our profile on Adam Pesce, the Director of Coffee at Reunion Coffee and our go-to coffee dude Drake-wide (including the new Mini Bar!) to kick off a month of free coffee from The Drake.
Adam Pesce is no rookie when it comes to coffee. His father has been in the business since 1978 and the family-owned business, Reunion Island Coffee, has been roasting in and around Toronto since 1995. When Pesce isn’t busy travelling the world to visit his farming partners or holding down the front lines of the business, he is busy winning or hosting trivia nights around the city. Pesce has been so successful at trivia night that he’s forged a friendship with the hosts and has co-hosted several trivia events. In fact, Pesce and his diverse squad of quizmasters are so accustomed to winning that they pool their winnings ($80 Drake Gift Cards) together for extravagant, self-congratulatory dinners (they currently have 6 cards on the go!).
Pesce has been involved with the coffee trade since he was a teenager, helping the business become certified as a social enterprise B-Corp company, bringing NGO values of sustainability and community engagement to the enterprise. In 2015, one of Pesce’s dreams came to life when he got a call about a piece of prime real estate on the widely-beloved Roncesvalles strip while on business in the Guatemalan jungle. The deal was signed while Pesce was in the Middle East and demolition on the site began in early March 2015.
Just a few months later, Pesce’s pièce de résistance, Reunion Island Coffee Bar, opened its doors on May 1st, 2015. After spending eleven years in coffee shops in Toronto and around the world, Pesce knew exactly the type of climate and ambiance he wanted to create in his shop, down to the light bulbs. Pesce’s hope for the coffee bar is that it integrates itself into the community and hopefully, becomes a 3rd generation space. Pesce sensed that the neighbourhood could breathe a sense of community into the shop and he was right: the new MP for the area basically set up a quasi-office in the back of the coffee bar during his fall campaign. Pesce also sees the coffee bar as an opportunity to act as a brand ambassador where he can demonstrate the true quality of their roasts. “Only a masochist would open a coffee shop,” Pesce confesses, but the hard work pays off: the place is teeming with conversation and the busy tapping of keyboards.
For several years, Reunion has been providing The Drake their signature blend Bullet, a 100% single-origin direct trade coffee from Brazil with 25 cents per bag of Bullet going to support Grounds for Health. Direct Trade, sustainability practices, Bullfrog Power and supporting NGOs 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 and more is simply ingrained in the business culture that makes Reunion Island distinctive and holistic in their bean-to-cup approach.
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 and Sundays — it’s still one of his favourite things to do.Follow Adam on Twitter here + Reunion Island here!