This Insta-Worthy Toronto Cafe Has The Sweetest Pandemic Love Story Behind It
It's bringing a bit of Australia to the city.
You can find boho vibes, tasty meals and an inspiring love story at this Toronto cafe that opened in the middle of the pandemic.
Found Coffee is an Australian-owned cafe serving drinks and delicious toast dishes, and it recently celebrated its one-year anniversary in the city.
The dreamy new patio and specialty coffees aren't the only things that make this spot unique.
The cafe has quite the tale behind its opening, and owner Leighton Walters filled Narcity in on his journey and how Found Coffee came to be.
What inspired you to open your own coffee shop?
Walters was born in Australia and began working in a cafe at age 15, where he discovered a special sense of community he had struggled to find elsewhere.
"I was bullied in school — because of my disability I had no friends, but my workplace became my friendship circle," he says. "And I realized that it wasn't just about the coffee, it was about community, it was about connecting people."
A week after moving to Canada for a job, Walters met a girl and had a feeling it was "something special". He decided to end his contract and pursue his dream of owning his own coffee shop.
"We flew to Australia at the end of 2019, [...] on the Harbour Bridge I told her that I loved her for the first time and it was this beautiful moment, and then we come back to Toronto and the pandemic hits."
"I was forced to make a decision whether [...] to end the relationship with someone I just told that I loved and go back to Australia, or double down on Canada," he says.
"I sold everything that I own in Australia and transformed my life savings into Canadian dollars, hoping that the right opportunity would open up for me to actually create a space that would be a part of the community."
What was it like to open a cafe during the pandemic?
In August 2020, Found Coffee officially opened.
"I spent my life savings on buying all the equipment [...] and in the middle of the pandemic we opened the door," he says. "We couldn't run a launch event because everyone was meant to #stay home."
"It was scary for the first few months," he admits. "We were serving 20 people a day. We were doing $120 a day or $200 or $250, it just wasn't affordable for us."
"Because we are a new business that opened in the middle of the pandemic, we were not eligible for any government support."
Despite the setbacks, Walters remained committed to pursuing his passion of bringing a "great Aussie specialty coffee experience" to Toronto.
"The whole reason why we called it Found was because we wanted to recreate that feeling that we get when we've found something that you've been looking for your whole life."
What has the community response been like?
Despite the rocky start, Found Coffee recently had to expand its hours due to its mounting popularity.
"As soon as we open the door we're getting literally five or six people that show up," Walters says. "We honestly were humbled by the fact that every week we were serving a few more people."
The new back patio has also been drawing customers. Filled with soft colours that reflect the Australian outback, the hidden dining space has Manhattan boho vibes and Insta-worthy photo ops.
"We've seen a lot more Instagram presence, I was up till like two o'clock, sharing, sharing..." Walters laughs. "I've never seen anything like it."
The love story is still going strong, too. "We're still together things and are going great so there's no sad ending to that," Walters says assuringly.
Walters hinted that a second location could be popping up in the future, and for now he looks forward to continuing to welcome the community to his shop.
Address: 324 College St., Toronto, ON
Why You Need To Go: This Insta-worthy cafe has all sorts of delicious Australian-inspired dishes as well as a sweet love story behind it.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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