An interview with Sam James Coffee Bar (SJCB) on their two-year PATH anniversary

Located in the PATH just east of St. Andrew TTC station, the Sam James Coffee Bar is the shop’s third and highest impact location yet.  As they celebrate two years in the Financial District’s Sun Life Financial Building this month, we wanted to ask about the successes they’ve had and why the PATH underground walkway is the perfect location for their unique brand of coffee. We interviewed Sam James Owner/Founder of SJCB to get some insights.

1. Why did you decide to open a location in the PATH?

“I am always thinking about my business and how/where to expand. There are several factors that drew me to the PATH. One major benefit of the PATH is its accessibility all year round. The weather is never a factor so a sunny day in the summer or a freezing day in the winter has no impact on our sales. The Sun Life Financial Building gets tons of traffic and our high quality customers usually become regulars. They appreciate our unique coffee flavour. The PATH location has hit the mark as far as what we’re looking for.”

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2. What is the culture like at the SJCB PATH location?

“We always have four employees working, so even though the line may appear long, it moves fast. I also encourage my employees to be themselves at work, it provides for a more unique customer experience and it humanizes our brand.”

3. What are your most popular drinks at this location?

“We mostly sell coffee, cappuccinos, lattes and Americanos, however, this location is especially popular for espressos. Many customers choose to drink it black so they can fully taste and appreciate the high quality of the beans.”

4. Your two year anniversary of this location just passed. What would you say have been some of the highlights over the past two years?

“We have definitely done some fun events in this location including a collaborative event with Tiger of Sweden. All five of our male baristas dressed up in suits on the last Friday of every month and the customers really got into it. Many of our customers wear casual clothes on Fridays so it was funny to see their baristas looking more dressed up than them.”

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5. What recommendations would you give to other independent businesses wishing to open a location in the PATH?

“I would say go for it. It took us almost a year of negotiating to establish the location and it’s quite expensive, but we have been so successful. You don’t see a lot of independent shops down here. We chose this specific spot in the PATH. It had been vacant for four years, and after spending a lot of time walking around the PATH, we decided the clientele and volume of the area was perfect. There are lots of mini food courts in the PATH and we knew we wanted to escape that noise and choose a unique spot for our unique coffee.”

You can follow Sam James Coffee Bar on Instagram: @samjamescoffeebar. Their PATH location is open: Monday – Friday | 7am – 4pm and closed weekends.