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Sam James Rules The Toronto Coffee Scene
by Anna Cipollone

Since opening his first shop in 2009, award-winning barista Sam James has changed the way Torontonians enjoy coffee. He’s curated each location, crafting it into a notable minimalist shop with a distinct aesthetic that’s become synonymous with the city’s best capp. Its most recent incarnation on Ossington features a wheat paste mural and handmade steel bar by artist Jeremy Jansen, which sits above a heated cement stoop. With his own roaster, Cut Coffee, supplying to all SJCB locations and a number of cafes and restaurants in Toronto and Montreal carrying the in-house blend, it’s no surprise that a fifth location is on the way this spring. We sat down with Toronto’s best-known barista to find out what’s brewing for 2015.

What’s the biggest coffee trend coming in 2015?

Quality shops shifting from the big roasters that traditionally dominated the specialty market, and moving toward working with smaller new roasters. There are many new roasters setting up shop with smaller scale operations and a closer eye on quality by virtue of a lower output and operating cost.

What makes Cut Coffee unique?

Our quality control, and the consistency of our results. We’re a small, focused operation, and we strive to bring in coffees seasonally that create a diverse menu, and a consistently delicious espresso blend. It’s a blessing to work with this crew; the passion and work ethic here ensures we always put out the best coffee we possibly can as well as innovate as a group.

What’s new at SJCB this year?

We just bought a great new roaster from a Portuguese manufacturer. It allows us to apply our same philosophy, but with much greater control of the heat and air. With greater protection for the coffee from the flame outside the drum, we can apply a lot of heat without burning, which is crucial when you’re dealing with fresh, dense coffee beans. The goal for 2015 is to get Cut Coffee into more likeminded shops that understand and appreciate great coffee.

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