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mediaglyphic
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Posted Fri Nov 16, 2012, 6:34am
Subject: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

What is it with the attitude at sam james.  They pull overextracted coffee then argue.  At harbord location they are at least a little nicer.  downtown they barista who claimed the coffee was fine, without having tasted it, really was obnoxious and plus started saying that blue bottle in SF had bad coffee.  The audacity of stupidity.  I say we all boycott this outfit.
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greggb
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greggb
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Posted Sat Nov 17, 2012, 8:04am
Subject: Re: worse experience at sam james downtwon
 

I've been to the downtown (underground) SJCB perhaps a dozen times. My experience has been nothing but positive. They are very particular about their coffee. They use naked portafilters and always time the shots (20 seconds I believe). They have sinked two shots before they gave me one they considered acceptable. So... I can see them being offended by criticism BUT - as professionals in the service industry, they should not react.

There seem to be a lot of baristas rotating through the location, so it sounds like some remedial training is required.

Gregg.
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mediaglyphic
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Posted Tue Nov 20, 2012, 9:56am
Subject: Re: worse experience at sam james downtwon
 

I think the problem with customer service training is endemic at this cafe.  At the Harbord Street location, i took a friend once to show him a siphon operation.  The guy couldn't get the siphon to work.

I actually don't think they are that competent about coffee.  I tried their beans at home on several machines and got middling results.  Apparantely the owner was a barista years ago and won a contest and is now trying to parlay that into a business.  Well a good business requires customer service and he has no idea how to deliver that.
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tuffdante
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Posted Mon Nov 26, 2012, 1:07pm
Subject: Re: worse experience at sam james downtwon
 

Professional food critics often have a 'secret list' of things they look at in a restaurant when formulating a review, things that go into the 'ambiance' score. When I am a cafe I typically ask them about where they get their beans from, listen to their description about how great their particular roaster of choice is and then ask them: 'Have you ever tried beans from ____?" naming another competent local roaster.
I remember asking Sam James himself this question and he oozed knowledge, professionalism and genuine care about the community and what specifically was being produced out of his machines by his own employees.
That being said I did ask on a separate occasion that same question to a random employee making my drink, and he was far less complimentary. It is hard to project professionalism onto every one of your employees.  The next time you are at one of his locations... why not bring it up if you see him? He is the type of guy to take customer input seriously.
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citizenA
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Posted Wed Nov 28, 2012, 8:16am
Subject: Re: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

It sucks you had a bad experience and crappy service isn't excusable, but calling to boycott a company because one barista was an asshole isn't fair to the ones that work there that do make an effort.  Sam's by far one of the most skilled coffee professionals in Toronto, and puts more thought into the execution of his service than anyone else I speak with in the city.  Many of the generalizations you made aren't accurate or fair to publish on the internet for an unassuming reader to stumble upon.

As a complete aside, it's really not easy to overextract espresso pulling doubles the way they do.  It's likely something else you don't enjoy about the coffee, possibly even just the coffee itself.
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Bob_McBob
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Bob_McBob
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Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 1:34am
Subject: Re: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

I have never been to Sam James, but I do check their blog occasionally. I was not too impressed by this foul-mouthed rant against people who use electronic payments for small purchases:

On principle, it is just plain lame to use your credit card for a small purchase. Its what children, paroled convicts, and people with joint accounts and a controlling partner do to monitor every purchase. If you do that, donít even come to my coffee shop until youíve mellowed out from that uptight shit. Get some cash, be an adult, and quit whining.


Right then.

 
Chris
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zane9
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Posted Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:35pm
Subject: Re: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

Not all that foul-mouthed, really. I actually agree with him.
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Bob_McBob
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Bob_McBob
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Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 4:06am
Subject: Re: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

I don't care how much you agree with him. It's possible to explain why you don't take credit cards for small purchases without writing that sort of insulting drivel about your customers. His problem is with the credit card companies, not the people trying to give him money.

 
Chris
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zane9
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Joined: 7 Jul 2009
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Location: Hamilton
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 2:10pm
Subject: Re: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

Bob_McBob Said:

I don't care how much you agree with him...

Posted December 7, 2012 link

Ok. We disagree on the agreeing with him!

He has a problem with the banks on the commissions charged for credit cards. He will never overcome that problem since his is a micro-business with no clout. He also has to pay fees for debit transactions. He could add a small fee on the debit transactions but customers won't accept this (unlike people who use debit at convenience stores and pay the added fee).

If people find his attitude insulting, they will choose not to patronize his coffee bars.
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Bob_McBob
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Bob_McBob
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Location: Waterloo, ON
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Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 6:11pm
Subject: Re: worst experience at sam james downtwon
 

You're missing my point, and you misunderstood what he was saying in the blog post. The reason he can't charge an extra fee for credit card users is because it's "illegal" (or in actuality, contrary to merchant agreements with banks at the time). He never mentions his customers being unwilling to pay an extra fee. Convenience stores have worked around the rules governing this sort of thing in various ways (e.g. "cash discounts"), and the major payment networks recently came to a huge settlement in the US over how surcharges are handled.

I also never said I disagree with the majority of his post. I quoted the specific part I was referring to, which is an extremely unreasonable and insulting rant against customers who quite reasonably expect to be able to make electronic payments for small items like they do at most other businesses. Calling paying customers uptight children and comparing them to convicted felons and people in abusive controlling relationships is ridiculous. As I said before, his problem is with the banks, not his customers, and he had no reason to change that.

 
Chris
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