Monday, April 15, 2024

Australian-themed rolling cafe relocates to Tofino after losing spot on Dallas Road


The Off-Grid Camper Cafe is revered for their Aussie-style espresso and their baked goods, all made with a mind for the environment and the utmost quality ingredients. 

The rolling cafe now has a new home in Tofino, just off the shores of Cox Bay Beach by the entrance to the Surf Grove Campground and they’ve already asserted themselves as a staple of the island’s surf and coffee culture. 

Late this winter, partners in life and business, Jacob Francis and Ella Downing, brought their solar-powered cafe on wheels down to Clover Point on Dallas Road from Port Alberni to post up and sell their coffee and wares.

They were able to do this thanks to the Bring Back Victoria initiative brought in by the Victoria city council during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to bolster local businesses and entrepreneurs. The initiative allowed for food trucks and carts to set up along Dallas Road.


Francis says he and Downing were given very little in the way of answers or reasoning as to why they had to move. 

“We would have appreciated a reason,” Francis told Victoria Buzz. “We just got a letter saying this program is ending and that was it.”

“I understand that things come to an end but usually there should be a reason, especially when peoples’ livelihood is at stake. To just end something that means a lot to people was disappointing.” 

They were told they could not set up at Clover Point beginning April 1st, so they packed up and moved along working a few pop-up events in Vancouver for Patagonia before they wound up in Tofino’s Surf Grove Campground just off Cox Beach. 

It was there that Francis and Downing worked the West Coast Triple Plank surf, skateboard and snowboard festival and found a new home for the Off-Grid Camper Cafe.

They started slinging coffee, baked goods and Downing’s pottery from one of the entrances to Cox Beach in Surf Grove Campground on May 5th and held their grand opening on May long weekend. 

Their new home is a bit tucked away but the ‘secret spot’ is still easy to find from the campground if you follow your nose and head towards the smell of fresh coffee and cookies. 

“There’s the beach and then there’s a little strip of forest, just such a cool location,” Francis explained. 

He says they are situated right next to the entrance to Surf Grove Campground and even though they are tucked away in the campground, all are welcome to stroll by and grab a coffee from them. 

Francis bakes fresh treats daily while Downing runs the cafe and the two still make sure to prioritize their environmental values.

They show their commitment to being as environmentally friendly as possible by partially running the cafe off solar power, giving discounts to those who bring their own reusable cups and Francis uses his bike to transport their ingredients and baked goods from their kitchen space in Tofino to the cafe.

The Off-Grid Camper Cafe is set up in Tofino until November 2023, when Francis and Downing will take some time to themselves and they are hoping to set back up in Surf Grove come March of next year. 

This is a must-try for coffee-lovers who want to grab a flat white on a Tofino beach!

Curtis Blandy

Read more

Latest Stories