Independent Coffee Shop: The Mad Bean

When you think of North Toronto, I bet you don’t think of independent coffee shops with hip decor, original artwork and live music. The reason for that might be because, to be honest, we really don’t have those up here. At least we didn’t until The Mad Bean opened up in 2009. For the coffee connoisseur looking for great organic, fair trade coffee, delivered in a unique and inviting coffee house environment, The Mad Bean is the place in North Toronto.

That Coffee House Feel

The Mad Bean interior, independent coffee shop,

Stepping into The Mad Bean, I feel as though I’ve been transported back to the coffee houses of my university days — and I like it. The only independent coffee shop in the area, there’s a warmth and relaxed comfort here that you don’t get at the big coffee conglomerates along this upscale stretch of Eglinton Avenue. Exposed brick walls, a bookcase stacked with books, original art on the walls, an eclectic mix of furniture, and indie music playing softly in the background make it an ideal place to settle in and get some work done (free wifi, hurray!), meet up with pals, or have some quiet time to yourself.

Supporting Local Artists

The Mad Bean is owned and operated by Brian, Lisa and their son Cody, who work in the shop every day and make you feel at home. Part of their vision for the coffee house, which opened in 2009, was to offer a place where local artists and musicians could display and perform their art. With no charge to the artist, they display original artwork by a few different artists every month. If you pop in on the weekends between 2pm and 4pm, you’ll be treated to live music performed by eager and talented musicians, mostly of the jazz persuasion, willing to play for their coffee. Check out the roster on their website.

Mad About the Beans

The Mad Bean, Steam Punk coffee, independent coffee shop,

So they’ve got the art, the books, the live music and the funky brick walls, but the most important element of The Mad Bean is the delicious coffee, and they are mad about their coffee. They offer an array of fair trade, organic coffees from Ontario roasters Reunion Island and Velvet Sunrise. They’ve worked with Velvet Sunrise to tweak flavours to get them just as they like and have developed a house line of beans under the label Steampunk Coffee, which you can pick up and enjoy at home. Don’t see something you like on the menu? They’ll make you a custom drink. Come around often enough and they might just name it after you.

And while the coffee is the star at The Mad Bean, there is a modest selection of sweets from Circles & Squares Bakery. Their gluten-free brownies are, dare I say, better than most regular brownies. And if you need a little something more, there are Montreal-style St. Urbain bagels available with your choice of butter, cream cheese, jam or cheddar cheese.

The Mad Bean is open Monday to Thursday from 7am to 5pm, Friday 7am to 6pm, Saturday from 8:30am to 6pm and Sunday 8:30am to 5pm.

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519 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, 647-235-2456


Tamara Sztainbok

Tamara loves children’s books, running, and pie. After nearly a decade working in children’s publishing, she launched Puzzle Box Communications - an agency offering editorial services to small businesses. Running her own business affords her the luxury and pleasure of walking her two children to school, and gives her the opportunity to rediscover her Midtown Toronto neighbourhood.