New Coffee Shop Draws on Both Science and Expertise

Story by Nancy Saunders, Photos by Adrian Lysenko

While the north side’s downtown core seems to have a coffee shop on every block, once you learn the origins of The Groggy Toad Coffee House, it becomes clear why owners Cory Furlonger and Sara Legros were compelled to open the area’s newest spot for coffee lovers.

Furlonger explains that coffee and espresso-based drinks have long been a part of his offerings as a seasoned bartender. Starting out in an Italian establishment, he learned to make quality espresso early on. He has had the idea for a coffee shop for 15 years, and in fact made the sign for The Groggy Toad 10 years ago. The café’s namesake originated as a play on Furlonger’s former roommate’s nickname “Peace Frog,” conceived after a particularly rough morning.

Legros also enjoys a long-standing interest in coffee, in an academic capacity. She completed an honours thesis at Lakehead on shade-grown coffee, spending time in Honduras researching both shade- and sun-grown varieties. This research informed The Groggy Toad’s four coffee values: organic, shade-grown, fair trade, and bird-friendly. “Shade-grown beans grow a lot slower and are more labour-intensive, but because they grow naturally the flavour is a lot deeper. Sun-grown cherries are burnt, and that comes through in the flavour,” Legros explains. As well, sun-grown coffee often requires pesticides, while shade-grown “provides natural fertilizers and roots hang on to the top soil, thereby requiring less fertilizer if any,” she says. In addition, she adds that “shade trees provide habitat for lots of birds that also act as a natural pesticide.”

The Groggy Toad serves coffee roasted in small batches in Salmon Arm, British Columbia by the family-owned Shuswap Coffee Company. Eighty percent of the coffee comes from Café Femenino, a women’s cooperative started in Peru in 2004 that has since grown to support women in seven additional coffee-growing countries.

The space has been tastefully updated with fresh paint and an exposed brick wall. The counter and signage are made of local live-edge pine. Furlonger’s tastes have been refined through his work as a bartender over the past 20 years in Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. “We wanted to design the space around a lounge feel, with later hours, music, and a bit of a darker aesthetic,” he explains.

The Groggy Toad is open Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm, and Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm, filling a gap for late-night and Sunday coffee in the area. On offer are espresso-based drinks, drip coffee, and iced drinks. Baking is made by Stardust Vegan Bake Shop, which also offers some gluten-free options. Coming soon are Wolfhead Coffee cold brew and Kumbaya Kombucha on tap.

For more information, find them on Facebook.