Sometimes good things come in small packages. Sandwiched between Paramount and Wide Open Bar at 141 Spadina Ave is Toronto’s tiniest coffee shop, The Coffee Lab. You’ve probably walked by the mere 18 sq. ft. space where owner and barista Joshua Campos operates a one-man coffee “counter”, serving freshly brewed coffee and treats to Torontonians. Working behind a display window, Joshua keeps it truly minimal with just enough space for himself, his coffee essentials and equipment.
His vision was simple: to combine an 18 sq. ft. hole in the wall with inspiration from Michelin Star restaurants and European cafes. Bringing forth his strong background in coffee making, Joshua ensures all his coffees are precise and consistent in both taste and quality. He keeps a rotating menu of world-class roasters from around the globe and crafts his drinks fresh to order, every time.
Despite not being able to provide his customers shelter from the cold outside, his concept has proved to be widely successful since on-the-go office workers make up a large portion of his clientele. Many of these customers even use the Ritual app for their Coffee Lab orders. With the rise in rent costs in Toronto, it’s no surprise more and more businesses are thinking of out-of-the-box ways to operate out of small spaces.
What inspired you to open Toronto’s tiniest coffee shop?
I wanted to open a cafe that was simple and to the point, where the main focus was on your cup of coffee. We use the best possible ingredients we can find, from the world’s best coffee roasters and the highest quality milk producers in Ontario, down to the espresso cup and spoons.
Describe your usual clientele at the Toronto Entertainment District location.
Most of our clientele are professionals from the surrounding buildings – mostly in the tech industry.
What’s your most popular menu item?
The most ordered item from our menu is an Americano.
How do you come up with your “Quote of the Day”?
Some I make up, some I get online. They are mostly motivational/encouraging quotes to start your day with your cup of coffee.
Why did you decide to operate out of the Toronto Entertainment District?
I really like the area. You get a sense of the real hustle and bustle of the city. We were looking for a small retail space in a high traffic area to operate out of. We found it very difficult to find even tiny hole-in-the-wall units in the city – until we found this spot at 141 Spadina Ave.
What do you like best about this district? Name a few of your favourite things/places in the area.
I like how it’s very central to a lot of places in the city. The location is great for a coffee shop, especially being surrounded by a lot of tech companies. I like how it’s also between King and Queen St. – it ’s busy but more of a community, where everyone is working in the same building or next door. Everyone seems to know each other.
Next time you’re strolling Spadina Avenue and need a caffeine kick, keep an eye out for The Coffee Lab! Visit its Instagram @the.coffee.lab and Facebook page here for a look at Joshua’s daily quotes, great tasting coffee and unique storefront.