Get to know a barista: Josh Flear of Sam James
Everybody loves Sam James. It's the coffee bar without the panini press or the WiFi, where you probably won't get a seat, on a tiny strip of shops on the otherwise retail-barren Harbord Street. But it's become the gold standard for an espresso shot, and a place to bother making the detour up from College or down from Bloor. Even if the avuncular, eponymous Sam isn't behind the counter, you'll likely get your coffee from a barista like him - someone as unflappably casual as Josh Flear, who walks a few feet from the espresso machine to do his profile, the better to keep an eye out for the next unexpected rush.
How long have you been a barista?
Just under a year.
Favorite customer and why?
Rick's a big favorite of mine - he comes in almost every day and gets a cappuccino and he's really fun. You'll see him outside of here and say hi - we do that to all of the customers.
What's your secret for pulling the perfect shot?
I guess paying attention to it. I throw out a lot of shots, so pay attention to the ones that go well, and try to figure out what's happening with the ones that go poorly.
Do you moonlight as a writer, actor, artist, and/or adult film actor?
No, I do not. Really, lately I just spend most of my time working here.
What's something that no one else knows about you?
I grew up raising chickens - my parents still raise chickens.
Favorite Toronto hideout?
Right now, my backyard. We just moved, so for the first time since I moved here we have a backyard, so that's nice.
Best album to spin at work?
I really like listening to Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Byrds album.
What's the simplest way to order a complicated coffee?
I guess just say what you want. We're not too pompous about it here. We'll say how we do it and things that we're not willing to do, so it's not too tough.
How do you take your coffee?
I usually just have a cortado. It's the simplest.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Dogs or cats? Cats.
Jay-Z or Run-DMC? Jay-Z.
Beards or mustaches? Beards.
Rocket or submarine? Rocket.
Rob Ford or Tim Hortons? Tim Hortons.
Photos by Kyle Burton