Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. ~ Alex Levine, Irish actor and musician                                                                

First published on March 11, 2016

If the spirit enlivening, fine rugged roar of an Irish coffee, (emphasis on) well done, has ever struck you as something of a revelation, the story of its origin will further heighten this notion.

As all good things often are, it was a stroke of genius on the fly; in this case, in the midst of a storm. Pitted as it was against the forces of nature, this wee blast of brilliance — likened to being kicked by a mule with a velvet hoof — was intended as a tonic for embattled late-night travellers.

In particular, these travellers: the wet and weary passengers aboard a seaplane in the winter of 1943, held back by poor weather from their late-night flight across the Atlantic from the village of Foynes in the midwest of Ireland. Foynes was then one of Europe's largest civilian airports and served as the last port of call and refueling on the country’s eastern shore for transatlantic seaplanes.

When the decision was made to turn around, catering staff at Foynes’ flying boat base were alerted, and, Joe Sheridan, head chef of the Foynes’ terminal restaurant — 'terminal' a word that should not precede what was then considered one of Ireland’s best eateries — was asked to whip up something warm for the incoming passengers. So Joe did what has revived so many during trying times: he gave them liquor, adding Irish whiskey with a trick of sugar and cream to the passengers’ coffee and the rest is history. When Joe was asked if he’d used Brazilian coffee, he is said to have quipped: “No. That was Irish coffee!” And, by Jingo, that, it was.

A few weeks later, Joe shared his new recipe with his boss, Ireland’s famed hotelier and business innovator Brendan O’Regan (who also gave the world its first duty-free shop), and they both agreed this touch of the Irish had to stay.

From then on, Joe’s “Irish” coffee was served to all of Foynes’ passengers — some of them famous, including Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller (pictured), along with Ernest Hemingway, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bob Hope and Humphrey Bogart, among others. Ultimately, Joe's recipe made its way across the Atlantic to America, most notably thanks to the efforts of the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco and the travel writer, Stanton Delaplane, who introduced it there.

Joe’s 1943 ingredients have been altered, added to, jazzed up, as well as criminally cheapened over the years, so, in celebration of Joe’s original innovation, and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, here is Joe’s yesteryear recipe in all of its sweet, bitter and fiery glory taken from Foynes’ flying boat museum website (which is well worth a browse; in fact, Google to research Foynes' history, and O'Regan's biography further: it's fascinating, including this video about the golden era of giant flying boats).

Suggestions have been added in bold:

Step One
In your Foynes Irish Coffee Glass, place a teaspoon and fill with boiling water for five seconds. (Replace the 6-ounce “classic” Foynes stemmed glass with an 8-ounce handled mug or tempered glass mug for practical reasons. If you actually do possess a Foynes glass, congratulations!).

Step Two
In this pre-warmed glass, put one teaspoon of brown sugar and a good measure of Irish Whiskey. (For the sake of historical record, Joe used Paddy Old Irish Whiskey from the Cork Distilleries Company. Do not leave out the sugar. Sugar is key to keeping the cream afloat).

Step Three
Fill the glass to within 1cm of the brim with really hot, strong black (French press) coffee. Stir well to melt all the sugar. (Joe used Ireland’s Bewley’s brand but any freshly ground, brewed coffee will do. Try a medium-roast Colombian, dark-roasted Costa Rican, Guatemalan in a darker roast or medium-roast Sumatran. Sidenote: Bewley does have operations in the U.S., under Rebecca’s Cafe in Boston and Java City in California).

Step Four
Then carefully pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee. (The cream — use double or whipping cream — should be whisked just short of stiff. Use spray-can cream and you will defile the memory of Joe and his coffee contribution to humanity).

Step Five
Do not stir after the cream is added, as the true flavour is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey through the cream.

And, lastly, as this Celtic coaster prompts: sláinte!


Our Coffee of the Week Club has been up and running since last summer, so it's rather remiss of us not to have mentioned it here before. Let's get to it.

As the purveyor of the world's largest variety of coffee beans, it can be a daunting experience trying to decide what to select. It has also long been a goal of ours to provide more in-depth information about the beans we carry in order to make that decision process easier. To that end, last summer, we launched the Coffee of the Week Club as a way to tour our extensive inventory with greater ease and less confusion via a featured coffee that includes the added bonus of $5 off for online orders.

Our current Coffee of the Week, which ends after midnight on February 22, is Brazilian Santos 2/3 SC 17/18 SS FC - a particularly good pick for creating an espresso base or for blending with other beans. 

Santos, a name many might be familiar with, refers to the port much of Brazil's coffee passes through. Located in the city of Santos in the southeastern state of São Paulo, the port of Santos is Brazil's biggest and Latin America's busiest, established in 1541 as a result of the country's bustling coffee trade; a bustle which continues to this day - Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of coffee. As such, it will come as no surprise to learn, given the importance of coffee to the country's economy, development and culture, that Santos is also home to a coffee museum.

Museu do Café (aka the Coffee Museum) is housed in an iconic building once known as the "Coffee Palace". As part of a countrywide celebration in 1922 to mark a full century of independence from Portugal (after three centuries of Portuguese colonization), the Coffee Exchange Palace (Bolsa de Café) made its debut as the coffee equivalent of Wall Street. This is where coffee was weighed and traded before it shipped out to overseas markets.

To be included in these price discussions, brokers were required to purchase a chair in the Trading Room [pictured] - a prestigious inner sanctum decorated with stained glass ceilings and artwork by the Brazilian painter Benedito Calixto de Jesus (considered one of the greatest exponents of Brazilian painting of the early twentieth century). These wooden chairs (which are said to have cost as much as a house at the time) are still to be found in the former Trading Room, now preserved as the museum's main room. The building's exquisite interior, restored after years of effort, is a highlight of any visit to the museum, which features vintage photographs, antique farming tools, storage sacks, scales and tasting tables in its celebration of Brazil's rich and lively coffee history. Explore the museum further through a video tour here.

For more Coffee of the Week insights, subscribe to our mailing list. Be sure to select the checkbox for Coffee Club at the end of the form.

Each new Coffee of the Week begins every Thursday and ends the following Wednesday. There is no obligation to order: if you like what's on offer for that week, simply add the $5-off promo code we send you to your online purchase at any time during the week it applies to.

Top: Kai Hendry
Trading room: Isangela Borges

The continuing stew over a study last year that found millennials were having less sex than previous generations did at the same age, may leave some feeling ever more pressure this Valentine's Day. Now seems like a good time to suggest a coffee date instead.




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Christmas is nearly upon us and, once again, you're here at our online store, thinking: "Can I give them coffee two years in a row? Who else can I give coffee to? Is coffee really all that of a gift?"

First of all, coffee is the best gift anyone has ever given or received, so no fear there. And, yes; you can give coffee to everyone you know who favours it but it is preferable to not repeat yourself from one year to the next.

But don't worry. At Green Beanery, we're more than just coffee: we're also coffee equipment and coffee accessories, as well as a number of other things entirely unrelated to coffee, which is all to your good at this crunch time of year. So put away your panic. We've got you covered and covered well, my dears.

Please step this way, and let's begin.

If you're ordering online, the best thing you can do at this point, to ensure timely delivery, is a gift card. We've got scads of electronic gift cards, including Christmas and Hanukkah cards, as well as gift cards that will do nicely for sending best wishes for the New Year's. Make a jump start on other occasions too with our Chinese New Year's and back-to-school selection, and, for those brave enough to be moving house in winter, give them our housewarming and coffee-to-the-rescue gift card options.

If you're able to order online and pick-up in-store, here are some ideas that are sure to please. A number-one pleaser would have to be the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker. To be sure, it's an odd, rather plain-looking gob of plastic (that is BPA and phthalates free, mind, and made of food-safe copolyester), but, nevertheless a gob of plastic few will comprehend the wonder of based on looks alone. Yet, a wonder the AeroPress is, day in and day out, no exaggeration. This will change your morning coffee routine forever - it's fast, it couldn't be easier to clean, it's versatile, durable and the coffee is so damn good; for $39.95, this little cracker will make you believe in the magic of Christmas again. True story: I gave this to someone, very fussy, last February and they're still, nearly a year later, telling me how much joy it brings them and I have to admit: I may never top a gift like the AeroPress.

It's hard to make something as thrillingly simple as the Aeropress better but they did by ensuring you need never be without it with the AeroPress Coffee Travel Kit, which is basically the Aeropress and a tote bag, and for more dollars, includes a Hario mini hand-grinder. Camping, cottages, conferences, hotels, work ... regardless of your location, the Aeropress is good to go.

With all the palaver about artisanal Third Wave coffeehouse culture, it's hard not to feel swayed by all the frou-frou and crave some of that cool cafe chic for yourself at home. Certainly, for coffee lovers, some of these accoutrements make for lovely and useful gift ideas. One such item is the Hario Buono Stainless Steel Kettle - with its sleek beehive design and gooseneck spout, the Buono is beloved by serious baristas and home-users alike for its reliable, precision pour and is something of a must-have for anyone attempting the pour-over method of coffee brewing. Take it up a notch with the Bonavita 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle BV382510V - the extra finger grip and steady water stream is a real bonus for the novice to pour-over and the 60-minute heat-and-hold and real-time temperature display works beautifully for any hot beverage.

Like the Hario kettle, the Chemex pourover coffeemaker is another timeless statement piece that is both lovely to look at and lovely to use, and easy on the wallet. The classic Chemex has been restored to a place of adulation by third wave coffee connoisseurs for its function and beauty: so iconic is its hourglass design fastened with a wood collar and tie, it remains on permanent display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Choose your size preference from our selection here. For the coffee lover who has everything, you might want to consider the divine Chemex Hand Blown Glass Stovetop Water Kettle or, better still, the mouthwatering Chemex Ottomatic Coffee Brewer, which unbelievably automates the entire art of pour over without the bother.

Keeping with a more lavish theme, the ROK espresso maker is a uniquely graceful design that is sure to win a gasp once opened (check out the neat-o reusable metal container it comes in). Described as an "AeroPress on steroids," the ROK (in a different incarnation, known as the Presso) is touted as one of the best espresso makers for under $500 - it also comes in black, red and copper (which is the one I want, Santa). A "Green Heroes" design winner, it doesn't use electricity either, so it's eco-friendly to boot. But it does require hand power and a good grinder for optimal success, which is why they made the companion ROK manual coffee grinder - a looker like the espresso maker, that takes less than half the revolutions of a standard manual grinder and around only 30 seconds to grind a double espresso, the same time as it would using an electric model.

Another coffee grinder that has been making waves for us this year is the Baratza Sette 270. The coffee geeks in your life will love this one - awarded the 2016 Best New Product by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the Sette 270 has been getting "game-changer" raves all over and the raves are deserved: expect superior speed (this is a burr grinder that moves fast) with an excellent, even grind and speeds of 3.5g/sec for espresso and 5.5g/sec for filter coffee, a light body at 7 lbs, nearly zero grinds retention and easy clean-up. One reviewer compared the release of this model to Apple unveiling their newest iPhone. It's that big of a deal.

For something a lot more budget friendly, the reusable KeepCup makes for a very thoughtful present for both the environment and someone who loves their brew with a pop of colour. At our store on the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, we keep a range of these cups on display, as well as gift sets ready made-up with coffee or tea and an assortment of little delights that make for attractive stocking stuffers. Stop by for a browse and take a moment to retreat from the madness with a treat from the menu and a seat beside our Christmas tree.

Because the weather outside is frightful

But our store is so delightful

And since you hate going out in the storm

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow




Halloween superstitions and folklore abound, as we all know. But what about coffee superstitions? Let's get on board with some, shall we?

Who doesn't spill coffee now and then? It's a nuisance, sometimes a damn nuisance, but according to superstitious coffee logic in the Middle East (and elsewhere), spilling coffee is considered a sign of good luck. So next time you whoopsadaisy coffee onto your bag and coat, know this: "You're so lucky."

In fact, aim to spill coffee. In Greece, spilling coffee on a coffee plaque (find one if you can) or a picture that includes coffee, is a sign money is on its way to you. Could this turn the economy around?

Next, Finland: If a bubble forms on the surface of your coffee but moves away from you, expect to lose money. If the bubble moves towards you, expect to gain some. If you blow the bubble in the desired direction, consider this creating good luck for yourself.

Moving on from Finland to bubbles in general.

If they form in the middle of your cup, prepare yourself for some bad weather; around the rim signals a beautiful day ahead. (In fact, high atmospheric pressure can force bubbles to the surface center so there is actually some science to this).

Try to catch any bubbles anywhere on the surface of your coffee because doing so is said to bring good luck if they are caught with a spoon and consumed.

Is gender important? Apparently. If a female brews your coffee and then spills it, her lover is thinking of her. This is significant if you thought you were her one and only. Perhaps if you had made her coffee she wouldn't have taken another lover.

If a cup holding coffee is dropped by accident, this spells misfortune. That's right. Your coffee has spilled, your cup is likely broken but in case you weren't able to ascertain this for yourself: that scenario is considered not lucky.

But if coffee must spill and you have any power of choice in the situation, spill the coffee on a saucer - yours, someone else's - as this indicates money is about to flow in. Because your saucer is over-flowing? Who knows.

Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic: Drinking coffee standing up should be avoided as it portends plans for the day will not come to fruition. There is a body of research that recommends drinking and eating while sitting down, but it isn't immediately apparent why taking coffee standing up would bring ruination.

Nevertheless, this superstition ranks as a good reminder to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the most important drink of the day with the pause it deserves. As do you.

Happy Coffeeween, everyone! And may this time of celebration be free of pranks and scares when your mouth is full of coffee.

Artwork: Catwoman cover Vol 3 56 (DC Comics), by Adam Hughes, deviantART

We thought we'd try something different this time for the recap of our most recent Grounds for Thought discussion.

Two student journalists were in the audience for our talk on the Honest Ed's Redevelopment: ​The Back Story, which took place on Tuesday, September 27. As an exercise, both students were prompted to live tweet a public event and that event was our Honest Ed's talk.

Students Fallon Hewitt and Rob Lowrey both produced a thorough blow-by-blow, so to speak, of the discussion and those tweet streams follow below.

Our presenter for the night: Max Allen, a producer of the CBC Radio One program Ideas, curator of the Textile Museum of Canada, and VP for planning and development of the Grange Community Association. Our host for the night: David Cayley, a Toronto-based Canadian writer and broadcaster, and a long-time contributor to CBC's Ideas.

Note: Some additional background information has been added by The Grounds for Thought (@for_grounds) organizers in square brackets.

Fallon Hewitt ‏@fallonhewitt_ Sep 27

Free admission and a free cup of coffee for those who attend the monthly @for_grounds discussions. #JOUR3001 [We're now twice monthly. ~ @for_grounds]

Each table has two booklets; inside are design plans for the development at southern side of Bloor and Bathurst #JOUR3001

Tonight's talking points are followed. #JOUR3001

Producer Max Allen will be tonight's speaker for the event. #JOUR3001

Quite the crowd here for tonight's discussion. Half are debatably just here to have coffee and hangout. #JOUR3001 [It is good coffee. ~ @for_grounds]

Allen: Paid rent of 75 dollars a month to Ed Mirvish on Markham Street in the 1970s. #JOUR3001

Allen: None of the houses in Markham Street were built with the same permits and plans as today. #JOUR3001

Allen: The rule scheme that dictates building in Toronto is complicated. #JOUR3001

Allen: Directs to a brown paper bag in booklet; brings up people asking about corruption and displeasure with the development. #JOUR3001

Allen: Reflects on a lunch he had in the 80's with a developer; references the paper bag, believes it was filled with money. #JOUR3001

Allen: Can you buy favourable outcomes in the developer world today? #JOUR3001

Allen believes not. #JOUR3001

Allen: All developers say all the good things; they have to. #JOUR3001

Allen: Wind studies have never been properly done; puts City Hall in a position they can't get out of. #JOUR3001

Allen speaks about policy guidelines and laws. #JOUR3001

Policy guidelines are so elastic you could build an elephant in the intersection says Allen. #JOUR3001

Allen: The Mirvish Village was designed from the beginning as a massive commercial and residential project; 948 units proposed. #JOUR3001

Allen: Some units will be rented at affordable rates; always a question in Toronto; 10 percent of the units. #JOUR3001

Allen: Affordable is not subsidized, subsidized is affordable. #JOUR3001

Allen: 10 percent of the site will be devoted to a public park; not in the original design. Park will be maintained by developer. #JOUR3001

Allen: Originally the houses on Markham Street were going to be preserved; houses have been registered on heritage register. #JOUR3001

Allen reaffirms what the heritage designation means. #JOUR3001

There was originally going to be an open air garden; originally to span Markham Street; city made it impossible. #JOUR3001

Allen: The project has 600 parking spaces underground; won't be under the park. #JOUR3001

Allen uses the booklets as reference, a great visual tool. #JOUR3001

Allen: Markham Street will become a pedestrian village. #JOUR3001

Allen: asks crowd to distinguish which plan was first and second. Which one do you like better, he asks. #JOUR3001

The top version is what they intend to build now; building in bottom right has shrunk; design has simplified. #JOUR3001

The design is full of green roofs; developer plans on putting trees on each roof #JOUR3001

Allen directs people to look; gives them time to check it out #JOUR3001

Allen: Who has leverage in these decisions? #JOUR3001

Allen: City Hall has more than you'd think; residents have little. #JOUR3001

Allen: Believes the bottom buildings have aesthetically pleasing proportions.

Allen: You see pictures like this in condo ads all the time. These pictures are views no human will ever see. #JOUR3001

Allen: The views you see in architectural drawings are not realistic unless you're a bird. #JOUR3001

Allen: Every building follows the 45 degree angular plan, no building can protrude beyond it, reduces amount of obstruction of sun #JOUR3001

Allen explains the technicalities behind the design process and rules that apply to the development. #JOUR3001

These rules are what make a nice building, a nice city. #JOUR3001

Allen references to the condos that already exist at Bathurst and Bloor. #JOUR3001 [These are the B.streets Condos at 783 Bathurst St. ~ @for_grounds]

Discusses the retail at grade ideal; retail is a must; the trouble is that every space is empty, has been that way for months. #JOUR3001 [See here for more on "retail at street grade" and what it means ~ @for_grounds]

Allen talks about the dark glass; no good for displays; compares the retail space to older spaces across the street. #JOUR3001

The older retail spaces are full. #JOUR3001

This is intense. #JOUR3001

The four corner study is something facing the intersection; used to make more room for development. #JOUR3001 [See here for more on the Bathurst-Bloor Four Corners Study ~ @for_grounds]

Westbank is a Vancouver-based development company; has many projects proposed in Toronto #JOUR3001 [Westbank Corp. is the developer behind the Mirvish Village project ~ @for_grounds]

Westbank has just brought all the failed retail space in the existing condos. #JOUR3001

Gregory Henriquez is the designer of the new development; pictured in booklet; posing in front of Honest Ed's oddly enough. #JOUR3001

Allen turns the discussion to the behind the scenes factor of the development; it's a mess of rules and decision making bodies #JOUR3001

Councillors play a huge part in these plans; they vote or do nothing at all. #JOUR3001

Public is allowed little deputation on the developments; public have little say if any at all. #JOUR3001

Allen discusses adjustment committee and fees; fee is well over $4000. #JOUR3001 [More on Toronto's Adjustment Committee]

80% of cases sent to the Ontario Municipal Board are won by the City. #JOUR3001

OMB hearings cannot be recorded; no verbal recordings as well. Public is welcome to go; quite the show according to Allen. #JOUR3001

Allen: Policy law is always open to interpretation; always written to give the most favourable interpretation to developments. #JOUR3001

Allen says Westbank has been very transparent with plans; but they are very detailed. Everything about Mirvish Village is online. #JOUR3001 [See here]

Allen directs people to illustration of Ontario [...]; points out lots of transportation. #JOUR3001

Allen believes the Ontario government has woken up to the biggest issue facing the people of Ontario: transportation. #JOUR3001

Allen goes on to discuss the many projects Toronto has for transit. #JOUR3001

Also discusses the many four corner plans the city has going on at once. Countless projects. #JOUR3001

The plan makes Bathurst and Bloor look wildly different; it's actually incredibly sad to look at #JOUR3001

A question period has begun for the audience. #JOUR3001

First question from a resident #JOUR3001

Is it a balance between stakeholders and tenancy? #JOUR3001

Are they needed or not? - audience member #JOUR3001

Allen: The only way families can start out is to have units such as these according to the city; houses are too expensive. #JOUR3001

Current projects going on in the city. #JOUR3001

Do you feel the parking is adequate? - Resident #JOUR3001

Allen: Believes some parking will be for shoppers and residents; does mention that people are increasingly walking to work. #JOUR3001

Allen: The developer has agreed that no city parking permits will be given to residents of the building; can't congest streets. #JOUR3001

Next audience member reflects on where she shops in the area. #JOUR3001

Sees the development as positive [for the] area. Reflects on childhood; audience members demand questions. #JOUR3001

People are getting heated and it's awkward. #JOUR3001 [It was. Our apologies to that member of the audience. ~ @for_grounds]

Asks Allen what he thinks; negative or positive view; Allen doesn't think in those terms #JOUR3001

Allen goes on to reply regarding the reliability of Westbank in affiliation to the control of the development and how it's run. #JOUR3001

Allen is confident in the way it will be run. #JOUR3001

Some in crowd have heard ground for the project will be broken in March; Allen doesn't believe this to be true. #JOUR3001

Allen describes the construction as going to be "hell on earth" #JOUR3001

The construction will disrupt everything. #JOUR3001

If they don't get a construction manager things won't go well; they need a leg to stand on. #JOUR3001

Next question is on affordable housing and the concern for lack thereof #JOUR3001

How much will the units sell for? Allen replies that he has no idea. #JOUR3001

Affordable units will be market average. #JOUR3001

Development will only change if development charges are increased downtown and lowered outside of the core. #JOUR3001

Allen: "The buildings you like in Toronto were not built under the [planning] regime of today." #JOUR3001

Allen on Markham Street: "Not built under planning regime." #JOUR3001

Allen has a clear appreciation for the historical buildings of Toronto; one we should all share #JOUR3001

A glass broke and Allen kept talking, true. #JOUR3001 [True. ~ @for_grounds]

Allen discusses planning being based on infrastructure such as sewers and water needs; developers should pay for it. #JOUR3001

Another question: How are the proposed units possible? #JOUR3001

Allen goes on to discuss how developers just take money and run; buyers hand money to developer and it goes away. #JOUR3001

Audience member brings up how rare condos were 50 years ago; no need for the model then. #JOUR3001

I totally forgot that @joe_cressy was mentioned; why isn't he here tonight? #JOUR3001

Allen and audience member are getting into it; Allen isn't taking what he's saying for truth #JOUR3001

Allen tries to bring it back to the first question from the audience member. All has been lost on this question #JOUR3001

Allen believes the developer is honest; he believes people like that are out there #JOUR3001

Audience member asks about traffic problems; Allen is sure there will be problems #JOUR3001

Allen believes self driving cars will help; also brings up Uber and their self driving car involvement #JOUR3001

Audience member asks about congestion; Allen mentions wider sidewalks are planned, and more underground services will come #JOUR3001

Audience member also has concerns about light due to tower blockage; Allen reflects on Grange [condos] project and reflect light #JOUR3001

203 College St actually had to be adjusted due to too much reflection #JOUR3001

Shadow studies must be considered #JOUR3001

Allen says he's cold; an audience [member] jokes about lending him her hot flash lolol #JOUR3001

Audience member can't understand why services are poorer despite the city looking wealthy #JOUR3001

Allen: Politicians will avoid making unpopular decisions with any one of their affiliates #JOUR3001

Allen: City neglects to make decisions; everyone is off the hook; "the sound of hands being washed at City Hall is extraordinary" #JOUR3001

Allen: Believes they met a tipping point when @JohnTory rode the subway and roasted.

Allen brings up how the AGO's fire suppression service is not up to par; they have reached out to the water department #JOUR3001

Water department said they need a new system entirely #JOUR3001

Discussion is strangely cut off. Confused but the audience seemed pleased. #JOUR3001

Well I guess that's it! Thanks Max Allen for an informative discussion. #JOUR3001



Rob ‏@RobLowrey3 Sep 27

Hello! I'll be live tweeting the Honest Ed's redevelopment talk held at the Green Beanery. It will commence at 8pm. #JOUR3001

Audience members were given this for tonight's talk. #JOUR3001

Producer Max Allen will be the speaker this evening. #JOUR3001

The topics for this evening are as follows. #JOUR3001

Less than five minutes until the talk begins. Free coffee is available to those interested. #JOUR3001

The brownies however are divine #JOUR3001 [Thank you. ~ @for_grounds]

Allen: "My connection with Mirvish Village goes back to 1975." #JOUR3001

Allen: "Sometimes people ask me why the development project is corrupt." #JOUR3001

Allen tells a story about a lunch meeting he had with an architect in 1981. #JOUR3001

Allen: "Money helps and buys other things." #JOUR3001

Allen: "Policy law is full of descriptions with desirable decisions and outcomes." #JOUR3001

The Mirvish Village building complex has always been designed as commercial according to Allen. #JOUR3001

"There's a great need for rental houses in the city." Allen. #JOUR3001

Allen: "The units across the street will be affordable units" in regards to condos replacing Honest Eds #JOUR3001

Throughout the talk we're flipping through the booklet. All of which are outlines of potential plans for the future. #JOUR3001

An open air market in Markham street was originally on the plans. #JOUR3001

The city denied the outdoor marketplace. The market place would've included an intricate roof (why it was denied) #JOUR3001

Underground Parking located on the Bathurst side of the street. #JOUR3001

Markham St. will be mainly pedestrian used. #JOUR3001

Imagine Yorkville and Kensington being put in a blender. That's potentially Markham St. #JOUR3001

Allen: "Not only is there going to be grass and shrubs, but also trees will be planted on these buildings." #JOUR3001

City Hall apparently has lots of leverage towards the plans. #JOUR3001

That's a lot of trees...#JOUR3001

Designs were not done for aesthetic reasons, but for shadows #JOUR3001

The city must obey rules #JOUR3001

It can't protrude into anything that has a 45 degree angle. #JOUR3001

How the city feels about Honest Eds closing and condos being replaced. #JOUR3001

Peterson and Westbank are major developers endorsing the condos #JOUR3001

Allen: "This talk is all about the back story of the project." #JOUR3001

Behind the scenes are apparently a hydra of a mess of decision making #JOUR3001

The groups behind the decision making #JOUR3001

Ontario Municipal Board acts like the court of the situation. #JOUR3001

Allen: "People leave the court in tears all the time." JOUR3001

There's no voice recorders allowed in the OMB meeting #JOUR3001

Allen: "Policy law is always up for interpretation." JOUR3001

All of the planning documents for the Honest Eds site are available online. #JOUR3001

The City of Toronto currently has seven planning strategies underway. #JOUR3001

Questions are now being taken #JOUR3001

Max Allen is also the President of the [Grange] Condo Corporation. #JOUR3001

Allen is unsure if the parking spaces are open to shoppers or strictly for the residents #JOUR3001

The tension is very awkward right now. #JOUR3001

When do you expect the develop will break ground and when do you think it will finish?" #JOUR3001

Allen: "The construction for this site will be a nightmare. Hell on earth." #JOUR3001

It is rumoured the project will break ground in March, 2017. Allen doesn't believe this is true. #JOUR3001

Allen: "My solution for this planning hydra is to eliminate the planning rules." #JOUR3001

Allen referenced the beautiful buildings at the U of T campus and questioned how they got them. #JOUR3001

He says how the university achieved the buildings was because of the lack of rules. #JOUR3001

A glass broke and Allen didn't even address it. The real MVP #JOUR3001 [lol ~ @for_grounds]

This is the third time the moderator has spoken within this hour and a half talk. #JOUR3001

The audience member is holding the mic but not using it to answer the question. #JOUR3001

"Does the rental unit have to abide to a certain amount of units?" - audience member. #JOUR3001

Allen is unsure if the rental properties will turn into condos. Possibly someday. #JOUR3001

Audience members slowly trickling out of the coffee shop. #JOUR3001

One more question! #JOUR3001

"I can't understand why services aren't keeping up with the amount of condos being built." #JOUR3001

Allen: Because politicians won't make any decisions that are unpopular with their constituents. #JOUR3001 [Edited for clarity. ~ @for_grounds]

That's it for me tonight! Green Beanery hosts "Ground for Thought" every last Tuesday of every month. #JOUR3001 [We've gone twice a month for the time being. ~ @for_grounds]

I'm Rob Lowrey, signing off. #JOUR3001


Our next event is set for Tuesday, October 11 @ 8 PM: Trudeau's Human Rights Compromise. See here for more information.

Medical Coffee Encyclopedia

September 27, 2016

It was around this time last year that the news coffee was actually good for us had begun to sink in. Months of building cheer on the Coffee - Friend not Vice front finally culminated in the fall of 2015 with the release of a Harvard School of Public Health study that connected a daily coffee habit to longevity. All manner of experts chimed in to say this or that wonderful thing about our favourite drink and it was the best fall, wasn't it?

Nothing can top the high of that fall so now we're knuckling down to institutionalizing this good news. Our first task has been an encyclopedic reference on the health impacts of coffee. Don't worry - this encyclopedic opinion supports the general viewpoint that coffee is A-OK, in moderation, taken as simply as possible (no additives) and so on. All that really matters is: the coffee party continues.

This past summer, Green Beanery volunteer and aspiring medical student, Anna Folwell, created for us a round-up of the various effects of coffee on a range of health concerns. In doing so, Anna uncovered a veritable A to U (some letters did not warrant coverage) of current medical opinion and everything we might want to know in relation to coffee and a particular ailment of the body. See: Medical Coffee Encyclopedia.

For instance, you might think coffee should be avoided in the case of a diagnosis of anemia. Well, you would be right. Coffee does not mix with anemia, it can inhibit the absorption of iron and worsen the condition, even potentially cause it in those susceptible to it.

But, for the most part, Anna's encyclopedic findings were positive. Oral cancer, for example, is reduced in risk by coffee consumption. Many things are - dementia ... What else from the D's? Let's see: depression, diabetes but not so much diarrhea (some things are common sense after all). But common sense isn't always reliable: for example, gallstones. You might think coffee should definitely be avoided there but no, it was identified as having a possible preventative effect on symptomatic gallstone disease.

The list goes on and on and covers a number of things none of us ever want to think about. But life can be cruel and if you are worried or curious about the health effects of coffee in regards to a specific problem, feel free to consult our Medical Coffee Encyclopedia. It is mostly good, often surprisingly good news when the news is otherwise ... not.

Coffee, Anna Folwell, thanks you.

Rediscovering Ivan Illich

September 12, 2016

Where to begin with Ivan Illich - the topic of our Grounds for Thought discussion evening at Green Beanery on Tuesday, August 30.

A deeply radical thinker, Ivan Illich - a former priest - gained a sort of celebrity as a public intellectual in the 1970s but has largely fallen from view nowadays. The vivacity of his anti-institutional worldview, however, is with us still in influence and his themes continue to excite newcomers who find their way to him. 

Of those who do, many find Illich's work surprisingly in step with the current time. For example, younger generations who feel cheated by the ideal of compulsory education or who train for work that does not match the jobs they will take on, if they are able to secure work.

Whether it's through his critique of compulsory education and the production of knowledge (Deschooling Society, the text he is best known for), the "medicalization of society" (Medical Nemesis), the dangers of technologies that lock us into dependence and distance us from one another (Tools for Conviviality) - or any of the many other subjects he tackled - Illich was fundamentally concerned with human relationships at a basic level. His voice was, and remains, a champion of human freedom and dignity in an age dominated by social systems and structures that control our view of reality and sense of self and autonomy.

Joining him on that journey along the way was David Cayley, our presenter on Tuesday night, whose association with Illich over the years led to the CBC series Ivan Illich in Conversation and various books, authored by Cayley, that explore Illich's way in to understanding society. That way was borne of Illich's time in Puerto Rico as vice-rector at a Catholic university there, where he set to wondering whether compulsory schooling was serving people well. The answer to his mind was 'no' and an argument for the de-establishment of education led to Deschooling Society, published in 1971.

Was the church supportive of Illich's work as a social critic? Although, Illich strived to separate this activity from his priestly ministry, he was considered a dangerous figure in the church by none other than the pope himself (that being Pope Paul VI at the time). Illich also considered himself rather "notorious" and eventually stepped down from his duties as a priest to pursue publishing and lecturing at the height of his seventies' run of fame.

From a '70s must-read to a '80s afterthought, Illich fell out of fashion after the publication of Gender in 1982, the outcome of a series of lectures he gave at UC Berkeley. Denounced by UC Berkeley feminists, that text ensured Illich would continue his work without fanfare, something Illich was actually glad of, telling friends his time on the lecture circuit had left him feeling like an intellectual "jukebox".

Illich's public profile, however, grew again with the release of The Rivers North of the Future, a 2005 book authored by David Cayley on Illich's thoughts about the fate of the Christian Gospel, a project that greatly benefited from the endorsement of distinguished Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. Taylor would later devote a section to Illich in his investigation of A Secular Age in 2007 - described as "the academic event of the decade" and Illich's inclusion as "a curious addition to this already-curious litany".

Max Allen (of CBC Ideas), and host of our Grounds for Thought discussion on August 30, noted that Illich's Deschooling Society and Growing Up Absurd, by American novelist and psychotherapist Paul Goodman, had served as a strong influence on the behaviour and thought of "a lot of people in what's called the sixties". The impact of books like these that "came and went," he said, "actually never went" because their imprint is still felt today.

How did Illich's Deschooling Society and Medical Nemesis change us? According to Max that change is "hard to point to" and has been realized in "a fuzzy way". David Cayley added that Illich's legacy is related to a growing disillusionment with authority. The readers Illich addressed at the height of his reach in the 1970s belonged to the "new church of schooling" and were believers in that church at the time, he said. They didn't cease to go to church after being exposed to thinkers like Illich, he continued, but they did cease to believe in it, which is largely "where we are now". In the case of medicine, Max agreed, saying: "The authority of the doctor is not the same as it was" and although the medical system remains pervasive and powerful, it is "treated more instrumentally, more cynically."


Ivan Illich died of cancer on December 2, 2002, aged 76, after living with a disfiguring tumor on the right side of his face for many years. As per his principles, Illich refused traditional treatment, not wishing to risk the toll it might take on his capacity for speech. He referred to the growth as his "mortality".


For a recap of our Grounds for Thought, July 26 event on the "Real Jane Jacobs," see here.

Our next event is set for Tuesday, September 13. See "Windy Lies" here for more information.

On Tuesday, July 26, American-Canadian self-taught journalist, author, activist, innovator and champion of livable cities, Jane Jacobs, headlined the discussion night at Green Beanery’s second Grounds for Thought event. Long-time colleagues Max Allen – a producer for the CBC Radio program, Ideas, and the co-founder and curator of the Textile Museum of Canada – held forth alongside Lawrence Solomon – who co-founded Energy Probe Research Foundation with Jane Jacobs in the late 1970s, the organization that owns Green Beanery.

As you might expect, there were descriptions that reflected the Jane Jacobs of popular legend: her newfangled thinking on the use of primary space, for example, was to be found in her own home, where there was no separation between the kitchen and living room. Although an open-plan layout is common today, at the time this was not the case. Jane had deliberately turned the main floor of her old house – built for a different era when servants were not permitted in certain parts of the home – into essentially a common area: a very modern idea that has since become a norm.

That glimpse of Jane in private is the Jane we have come to know in public as the revolutionary voice of mixed-use development and a relentless battler for "the good city," which she articulated as the aphorism: "Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."

What is less known are Jane’s views on such issues as privatization – Jane was in favour of privatizing the TTC, Via Rail and Canada Post, all public entities reliable for their terrible service and high rates when Jane launched the consumer advocacy organization, Consumer Policy Institute, in the mid-1990s. Jane also believed in competition, respected property rights and was "allergic to expropriation," but was not, as some think, anti-development and anti-change: she simply had no desire for centrally planned solutions.

Illuminating Jane’s more surprising perspectives, Lawrence Solomon remembers Jane as principled, fearless and free of ideology. Her rigorous and wide-ranging intellect makes guessing "what would Jane say?" an impossibility even for those who knew her well. Jane sought specific solutions to specific problems, she was all about process.

Although he has wondered himself many times, "What would Jane say?", as Max Allen told the Grounds for Thought audience: "You never knew because she said so many things you had never thought of before."

For more on Jane’s lesser known perspectives, read Lawrence Solomon’s Grounds for Thought discussion notes here.

Max Allen is the author of Ideas that Matter: The Worlds of Jane Jacobs. He also produced the 1979 Massey Lectures featuring Jane Jacobs. [Pictured above at the Grounds for Thought Jane Jacobs night in sunglasses]

Lawrence Solomon was a colleague of Jane Jacobs at Energy Probe Research Foundation for almost two decades. [Pictured holding microphone]

Self-taught thinker: Jane Jacobs dropped out of Columbia University's School of General Studies after two years and never looked back. Unencumbered by planning orthodoxy, Jane formulated her views on urban living from the ground-up. How did she do it? She got out on the street, walked around, observed the "ballet of sidewalks" and what made a city good and workable for people by being a person living in and moving around the city.

Follow us on Twitter @for_grounds

Coffeehouses have always been spaces that attract the more serious thought or thinker, as opposed to the more serious drinker. They combine the spiritedness of an alehouse without the (vast) potential for alcohol's mayhem.

As engines of socialization fueled by the brain stimulant of caffeine, coffeehouses have throughout their existence served as sharp-edged but sober gathering places for the exchange and circulation of information, ideas and views, hence their at times being referred to as "Schools of the Wise" and "penny universities".

For example, back in the day, London, England's thriving coffeehouse scene of the 17th and 18th centuries provided an intellectual arena for great and otherwise (male) minds — female minds of either description were generally excluded — to gather, even across class, to discuss, debate and shape the world we live in today. If famed British essayist, biographer and cultural critic, Samuel Johnson — regarded as one of the greatest figures of 18th-century life and letters — wanted to take the temperature of his time, he'd head to his local coffeehouse, a place he defined as "a house of entertainment where coffee is sold, and the guests are supplied with newspapers." A description that suggests Johnson equated coffeehouses with ideas and, by extension, "connotations of alertness, sobriety and volubility," according to Markham Ellis, author of The Coffee-House: A Cultural History.

To that end, inspired by the tradition of the great coffeehouses of yore, we pulled the plug on WiFi at Green Beanery in the hopes of re-energizing face-to-face interaction [see: No WiFi]. And now we're taking that controversial (some would say outrageous) move one bold step further with a public discussion series called Grounds for Thought to be held on the last Tuesday of every month, beginning this month on June 28 at 8 p.m.

Grounds for Thought will feature guest speakers offering "provocative perspectives" on a range of topics. Our first topic is one many of us already hold views on: Toronto Hydro and, in particular, sky-rocketing Hydro bills. Details follow below.

Our Hydro Bills Will Soar 18% This Year

A Green Beanery Grounds for Thought discussion, held at the Green Beanery store and cafe on the corner of Bathurst and Bloor streets on June 28 at 8 p.m.

Economist Brady Yauch of Consumer Policy Institute [NOT pictured] explains why Ontario has North America’s worst record in controlling power prices.

To whet your pre-discussion appetite, read: "Toronto Hydro customers face 18% rate hike in 2016".

Grounds for Thought: mark your calendars and see you there! 

Come early to be sure to have a table. No admission charge.

For more information, contact us at

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