THUNDER BAY -- Sara Legros and Cory Furlonger have been nurturing their coffee shop dream ever since they met 10 years ago. It wasn’t just talk, though - in preparation for the day when they would open their dream coffee shop, they accumulated equipment and furniture for the shop years in advance.
“The espresso machine used to be my bedside night table for three or four years,” Legros laughs. Every time they saw a good deal on something they wanted for their future coffee shop, they bought it and kept it in their small apartment. “We were pretty much living in a storage unit by the end.”
After a lengthy gestation period of 10 years, the Groggy Toad Coffee House opened on Cumberland street on June 26 last year.
Legros’ lifelong love of coffee extends beyond her daily brew. Back when she was a student at Lakehead University, she did her honours thesis on shade-grown coffee, going to farms to conduct research.
Coffee was traditionally shade-grown, she explains, but in recent years, most mass-produced coffee is from sun-grown varieties, because the beans mature faster and harvesting is easier. The compromise is not only flavour (sun-grown varieties can have a more acid and burnt flavour, Legros says) but sustainability - in a monoculture, coffee plants need more fertilizer and pesticides, and when the land becomes less fertile, more forests are cut down to use for growing coffee.
The Groggy Toad gets their beans roasted from Shuswap Coffee Company, a small family owned roaster in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. They source most of their beans from Cafe Feminine, a women’s cooperative that pays fair wages and aid growers in obtaining organic or shade-grown certification.
Despite the long hours working at the shop, the couple love their coffee shop and the neighbourhood that they are in.
“We spend about 14 hours a day here at the coffee shop,” Legros says. “We’re really spoiled for food here - we get fed so well in this neighbourhood, great restaurants, everybody is so welcoming, it’s a really great community here.”
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