My story on the Sip It Podcast
"Fourteen years ago, I had a vision to address the needs of the average specialty coffee drinker who wanted sweet, chocolatey, medium roast coffee.
I realized what they were craving was quality and consistency daily."
The story of Sam James Coffee Bar
In 2007 as a young barista working for another cafe, I was fortunate enough to serve world-renowned coffee expert Scott Rao.
After pulling what I thought was a great espresso, Scott returned the shot and asked for his money back. Stunned by the guts of his request, I asked him if he'd ever return a half-eaten Butterfinger candy bar to the corner store. He replied, "I wouldn't have to; Butterfinger's are consistent." He schooled me on everything wrong with the espresso I just made, and I couldn't disagree.
I realized how each part of the equation compounds the whole. Making great coffee comes down to a combination of many factors like water filtration, machine, pressure profile, and most importantly, how the beans are roasted. I realized that the foundational elements must be consistent before being exploratory. I was shown a better way to make coffee. After this experience, I felt I owed it to the people of Toronto to give them the coffee they really wanted.
I went on to win Barista of the Year in 2008
That was a unique experience as I was judged by the incomparable James Hoffmann. I opened my first location on Harbord Street shortly after. Since then, I have made it my mission to provide the neighborhoods of Toronto with the quality and consistency of coffee they deserve.
At the heart of the operation is my roastery.
Here I can control the most essential part of the equation, the coffee itself. For years my coffee roasts have been rated Toronto's best while also being recognized nationally. I believe we roast the best beans in Toronto because we focus on what the customer really wants, sweet, chocolatey, naturally developed medium roast coffee.
portrait by Pat Ozol
I believe coffee should be a break, not an adventure.
Too often, specialty coffee trends in the direction of wine, a high-end product for the elite. I believe this is the wrong direction. My coffee is a blue-collar drink for the early bird who works hard in the morning or the creative who stays up late. My coffee is more of a tool than a luxury; it's a delicious, consistent, easy-to-drink, easy-to-brew, a pick-me-up when you need it most.
Over the years, I have expanded my offerings, set up wholesale accounts for other local coffee shops, and served my customers by shipping beans across Canada for free.
Simply put, my coffee is easy to drink, easy to brew, and easy to buy.
Do yourself a favor and stop by a shop or order your beans online today.