Sam James on Ossington
Sam James Coffee Bar has made a return to Lower Ossington. Nearly four years after being evicted from the spot to make way for the American watch shop Shinola, the neighbourhood coffee shop makes a triumphant homecoming with a second iteration of SJCB OZ.
The pocket-style cafe has an affinity for sharing spaces (Stussy once being the main collaborator). This time, it's partnered with the Thai grill spot Favorites: a stylish project from the people behind Superpoint and Khao San Road.
It's a logical use of space: taking up the front part of the shop, the coffee bar operates from morning until 6 p.m., after which the beans stop brewing and the 600-square-foot space becomes the waiting room for the restaurant in the back.
With a coffee career that spans 15 years, Sam James and his brand have become synonymous with Toronto joe.
James' barista credentials run the gamut from lauded Toronto cafes like Manic, Cherry, Dark Horse and more, leading to his first cafe on Harbord in 2009.
Since then, he's expanded and fluxed with locations spanning the city, from Trinity Bellwoods, in The PATH, Toronto St. and now, Ossington once more.
"It's a goal I had from the day we closed," he says. "I said, 'We're going to get back here eventually.'"
The hallmark minimalist SJCB look is in full effect here, from the benches that line the wall to the markedly laptop-free vibe.
The brand has had its own roastery in the west end since 2013 (it used to be called Cut Coffee, now it's just Sam James).
You'll find 12 oz bags of their single-origin beans from Colombia, Guatemala, or Ethiopia year-round for $19 each.
The ever-popular Espresso Butter Knife medium roast uses a blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan beans, and costs $18 a pop. Find it in a cappuccino ($3.99).
Cold brews are perfect for a hot day ($3.57).
Baked goods like chocolate or butter croissants ($3.57 or $3.25) and scones ($3.57) come from Mabel's.
Vegan peanut butter cookies ($1.90) come from Tori's Bakeshop. Grab one and some caffeine as bench fare while people-watching on the Ossington strip outside.