Toast the roast

Toast the roast


Small-batch specialities, cold-brew and iced options mark out Glasgow’s rapidly changing caffeine scene

The way Glasgow approaches coffee – sources it, roasts it, drinks it – has changed. Buoyed by the success of the city’s more established traders – including Thomsons, the granddaddy of west coast coffee at more than 170 years old, and Italian Aroma – a crop of coffee connoisseurs who had sampled caffeine further afield sensed a shifting in the scene back home, and decided to act on it.

The new coffee-trading kids on the block arrived, shaking off the dust of their travels. With his wife, Coatbridge-born Graeme Crawford spent ten years in Australia working in the trade and imbibing cups of superior caffeine before deciding a move was in order. ‘When we returned to Glasgow to be close to our family, we recognised a gap in the quality of coffee and cafés in Glasgow compared with Australia and other major cities,’ he explains.

In 2012, Papercup was born – a business built not just on the thriving café culture found overseas but also on educating customers about what they’re drinking, offering training courses to the public. Only speciality small-batch offerings can be found within its four walls.

Sure, Glasgow loves coffee, but future favourites may prove surprising.
‘In terms of trends, cold-brew and iced coffee are getting really interesting,’ Crawford says. ‘Customers in general are becoming more knowledgeable and expect a higher standard of coffee and how it’s sourced, roasted and brewed.’

Just a year before Crawford and co began cupping, Lisa Lawson, now owner of Dear Green Coffee Roasters, opened her premises after living and learning the ways of the bean in Sydney. Arguably the city’s largest wholesaler, it also has its own roastery – housing a12-kilo Probat coffee roaster – installed near its Briggait office space with the help of a few hefty friends.

As well as establishing Glasgow’s first coffee festival held at the Briggait last year, Dear Green has been instrumental in bringing the city’s coffee to an international platform by hosting the Scottish Aeropress Championships, whose winner will be flown to Seattle to compete with global players. And although the company is joining a legion of traders taking coffee production very seriously – newbies Avenue G and Gordon Street Coffee line up next to scene stalwarts Artisan Roast and Tapa – Lawson is confident that the number will grow yet larger.

• See our Tiplists of the best coffee spots around Glasgow