Sam James (Trinity Bellwoods)
Sam James Coffee Bar can now be found directly across from Trinity Bellwoods Park on West Queen West in a small but impressively designed space typical of this local indie coffee brand's other spots around the city.
However, this is the first outpost of Sam James' mini empire that doesn't feel like it's tucked away inconspicuously. It's completely out in the open on a major street, and it's sure to make those who mourned the much beloved, shuttered-by-eviction location on Ossington very happy.
Aptly dubbed "SJCB Park," this location - which was previously Feel Good Guru before the raw vegan eatery moved - is a vision in black, white and wood, occupying a bright space filled with natural light thanks to big front windows that look out towards the south end of Trinity Bellwoods.
Like other SJCBs, work by artists Jeremy Jansen and Ken Roy Johnson is featured here, including a cast iron pipe rail by Jansen on one wall and Johnson's steel bench and bar bases with wood tops handmade by Mennonites.
Similar to its minimalist aesthetic, the coffee menu keeps things to the point with expertly made espresso ($2.62; Americano, $2.86; macchiato, $3.10; cappuccino, $3.33; latte/mocha, $3.81/4.20) and drip ($2.38/$2.62) using James' own Cut Coffee beans ($16/$17 per 12oz bag). As always, it's cash only.
A few new offerings focus on chilled items, like bottles of cold-pressed juice ($7 each) from The Organic Press in Kensington and SJCB's own cold brew ($2.62) that's made on-site and served to order, making it much more affordable than pre-packaged versions.
To acknowledge its convenient location across from the park, you can pick up iced cups (50 cents each) here so you can pour your own drinks (use your imagination) into them - a smart idea, and from what I can tell, it's really nice ice.
What's most exciting though, is that there will be soft serve ($4.87) from Bar Ape , with two flavours that will change up regularly. This also means you'll be able to order an affogato (espresso + soft serve) or cold float (cold brew + soft serve) for $6.20 each. It's not up and running yet when we visit, but I will be all over it when it is.
For eats, there are still baked goods ($2.50-$3.10) in the form of croissants, cookies, scones and turnovers from The Tempered Room , and from Thursday to Sunday there are house-made pop tarts and creative cookies from Lindsey Gazel , who will now be baking out of the back kitchen here.
There's no doubt this place will do well. Hopefully, this spot and White Squirrel - just a few doors west - will be able to coexist successfully, as I'm a big fan of both.
Photos by Jesse Milns.