Bringing to flavor of Australia to Guelph with a new coffee shop on Gordon Street set to open soon
Leighton Walters saw the potential for great coffee in Guelph, so expanding his coffee shops out to a new city was the next step.
“Every time I’d go I’d be like, man, it would be great to have a shop here one day,” said Walters of visits to Guelph to see his partner’s family. “Man, I wish the coffee was better here.”
Walters hails from Australia and has over 20 years of experience in the coffee industry. With an opportunity to open a shop in Toronto he put all of his life savings into the business to create Found Coffee in 2020. He opened up two locations in Toronto in the past two years.
“Australia is really known for two things aside from deadly animals. We’re known for desert and we’re known for beach,” he said.
Walters incorporated the colors of the desert, like dusty rose and powdered blue into the design of his coffee shops.
“Coffee to an Australian is what ice hockey is to a Canadian. It’s a cultural thing, it’s part of the fabric of how we enjoy our lives,” he said. Walters said he wants to bring the community and culture of coffee in Australia to Canada.
Australia birthed the caffeinated beverage called the flat white in the 1980s. A flat white has two shots of espresso with the perfect temperature and textured milk incorporated into it.
“That was the first thing that really kind of threw me when I moved here. Was that Starbucks taught everybody what a flat white is in their terms,” said Walters.
“We’re trying to redeem the flat white a little bit so we created a drink called ‘The Doctor’. It’s a double ristretto flat white. A little bit more caffeine, it’s stronger, sweeter and smoother than our standard white.” A ristretto is a more concentrated shorter shot of espresso.
At Found Coffee they have an initiative called Coffee For a Cause, each month a portion of their proceeds goes to a charity. Customers can vote in store by placing a coffee bean in a bin for the charity of their choice. There is a local, national and global charity customers can choose between.
“People try to get into coffee to make money or make quick money. I’ve been in the industry to know there’s not big money to be made in coffee but there is big influence and there is big impact. I want to be able to make my life count,” he said.
Walters was born with spina bifida, a condition affecting the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. He took solace in the community he found when he started his first job at a coffee shop. He said his passion to make a difference came from the years he spent in hospitals.
Along with coffee, Found Coffee offers specialty toasts, like avocado toast, and steel cut oats.
Walters said Found Coffee at 17 Gordon St. will likely open by the end of July or early August. Located steps away from Balzac’s, a largely well-known coffee shop.
“While they might have same things on the menu, the way in which that drink is made will be different. There’s obviously room for amazing cafes like Found as well as amazing cafes like Balzac’s,” said Walters. “For me, we don’t want to compete, we want to complement.”
Walters said he is looking forward to getting to know the community in Guelph and wants to create a sense of belonging in his coffee shop.