Café: Sam James Coffee Bar
Location: 297 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON


First time visiting the shop of this highly decorated Toronto barista. When I left the bar, the thing that most impressed on me was how knowledgable and friendly Sam was. I felt welcomed and engaged during the time in his shop learning things about the espresso that I drank while he was open to my tastes and thoughts. A true ambassador to the coffee amateur. I don’t mean to gushing or create a cult, but this experience happens only rarely to me in coffee shops, but I think it is important to take note in order for coffee appreciation to grow. I will not mention the other types of contrasting attitudes, but I thought this was important to highlight. Now on to the espresso.

The shop uses a La Marzocco Linea with some Mazzers. He describes this as his preferred setup although he has worked with plenty of other equipment.

The espresso blend that he uses is Espressone from Toi et Moi. The excecution of the shot is carfully looked at as it is coming out while also being carefully timed by a timer (not something I have seen often). The product is served in a plain thick-walled white espresso cup.

The nose on it is earthy and woody. The first sip awakens my senses unexpectantly with a lot of fruity brightness which is short lived. Then is followed by a long smooth finish of many layered flavours including dark chocolate with sweetness and overall balanced earthiness. The taste seems to linger for a long time and leaves a very pleasant feeling in my mouth.

Not something I expected, but definitely something that I would like to repeat.

Conclusions: Good Spot (Ratings Guide)

In my top 5 shots of Toronto of all time. Maybe even top 3. I’m curious to see if my next few visits will cause this rating to go up, as I get accustomed to the inital brightness in the shot.

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