Indie coffee maestro Sam James sets up shop on the Ossington strip

Indie coffee maestro Sam James sets up shop on the Ossington strip

(Image: Jon Sufrin) (Image: Jon Sufrin)
 

After setting up cafés in some unexpected places across Toronto—first Harbord Street, next Koreatown, and then The Path—Toronto coffee king Sam James has planted his flag on the Ossington strip, directly across the street from Starbucks. The new outlet is the epitome of a Sam James coffee shop: the ceilings are towering, the décor is stark (a pixelated floor-to-ceiling print reveals itself as a snarling German Shepherd when viewed from afar), and the tables are nonexistent, leaving customers to perch on a tiered concrete stoop. Baristas work off a gleaming Italian espresso machine (a three-group La Marzocco GB5, for those familiar with their brewing gear), which churns out caffeinated beverages made from James’ own Cut Coffee. And how does he feel about having corporate coffee giants right at his doorstep? “There’s nothing they’re doing that we can’t do better,” he says.

Sam James Coffee Bar, 1000 Queen St. W. (entrance is on Ossington Ave.)