Introducing: Sam James Coffee Pocket, a second location for a local espresso guru
When Sam James set up his eponymous coffee shop on Harbord last year, some were skeptical that a business could thrive in such a small space. Well, the coffee guru flipped a resounding bird to that notion on Saturday by surreptitiously opening a new, tinier joint up the street at Bloor and Clinton. Sam James Coffee Pocket is even more efficient than its predecessor—takeout only (espresso excluded), no drip, no decaf and zero seating—but the trademark taste is no different.
At around 120 square feet, the new location is half the size of the first one, and that’s how James likes it. He’s not looking to get in on the sit-down, free Wi-Fi café market—it’s too easy to get distracted from the coffee that way, he says—nor is he looking to compete with himself (his first shop is a five-minute walk south on Clinton). There’s the busy Christie subway station near the Pocket and nothing caffeinated for commuters beyond the local Timothy’s and Tim Hortons.
Patrons can choose from a small selection of pastries from Circles and Squares, which adds the Pocket to its list of indie-café clients (they also bake for The Big Guy and Thor). Other than that, there’s not a whole lot different about the new place, aside from a slightly upgraded La Marzocco machine, which James’s friend, coffee legend Scott Rao, helped calibrate. A bar top for standing espresso consumption, Italian style, will be added soon. And if Saturday’s crowds are any indication, it seems that renting out a cubicle might not be such a bad business decision after all.
Sam James Coffee Pocket, 688A Bloor St W. (at Clinton St.), samjamescoffeebar.com.