Saturday, 10 December 2016

Williams & Johnson at Custom Lane

67 Commercial St
EH6 6LX 
Open Tues-Sun
Espresso, filter
Coffee: Williams & Johnson
Also: Beans, cakes, sandwiches 
Coolness: Historic Leith meets relaxed & friendly coffee cool

Williams & Johnson @ Custom Lane (5♥), are Leith roasters Zack and Todd who have set up their cafe in the ground floor of the budding creative space Custom Lane.

They're very particular about the beans they source, roasting and tasting umpteen samples before choosing the latest in a string of juicy single origin coffees to don their brand.

You're in for a real treat here. You'll get super tasty coffee - espresso-based or pour over - that's jam-packed with bright flavours but also rounded out with complexity and depth that leaves you wanting another cup (and not feeling like you've just had a glass of cranberry juice).

Williams & Johnson are constantly on the look out for new beans and flavours and change their offering regularly. And when high quality roasters make your coffee, you're getting it how it was intended to taste. (You can always ask heaps of coffee questions too - that makes roasters happy!). Chocolate lovers will also want to try Edinburgh's Chocolate Tree hot chocolate - seriously special.

The cafe is in the big and imposing Customs House grey stone building that faces Commercial Street and where the Water of Leith starts to open up at The Shore. Entrance is easiest from Customs Wharf via a big arched doorway on to an interior courtyard. The cafe is on the right side on the ground floor.

Customs Lane is a creative hub for artisans, artists and designers who make perfect flatmates for our committed and creative coffee rosters. On Saturdays the Leith markets also set up next door, adding to the ambience.

The space is light, bright and minimalist with long, blonde wooden communal tables and chairs.

Bearded Baker bagels and Manor House sandwiches will also keep you going between coffees.


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Glad Cafe

1006a Pollockshaws Rd
G41 2HG
Open every day
Coffee: Dear Green
Also: Meals, cakes, breads, alcohol
Coolness: Everything about Glad is pretty cool, not least their unrelenting passion for supporting local artists and their community

Glad Cafe (3♥) is located in Glasgow's Southside opposite Queen's Park and has a deceptively small frontage given the size and scope of what goes on here - a big-hearted, inclusive and active venue for local artists as well as those from further afield.

Starting with the cafe component of this community enterprise, visitors enter via a hallway in to a large cafe space that unfolds to the right. Step up to the large bench at the back wall to place your order (although they also do table service), peruse the cakes on display and check out any menu specials.

Glad's baristas do a good job with local Glasgow roaster Dear Green's beans - in tune with their local sourcing ethos. It's great to see a high standard of coffee here given they have their hands full with a wide variety of priorities.

The folks at McCune Smith (who also have their own cafe in Duke Street) run the kitchen at Glad, providing wholesome, tasty food made from local and sustainable ingredients. The menu spans breakfast, lunch and dinner and goes out of it's way to provide tempting offers for everyone including vegans, meat-lovers, gluten-free folks and kids, among others.

The Glad Cafe is also an award winning venue that hosts musicians - indie, electronic, experimental, world and traditional - as well as film, drama, storytelling and philosophical talks. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to see what's upcoming. But it doesn't stop there, Glad also produces their own six-monthly magazine (the Glad Rag), runs the Glad Community Choir and their own thrift shop (Glad Rags - which takes up the majority of the shop frontage that faces the street) and the Glad Foundation which provides free and affordable music lessons to local people.

And on top of all that, they still have the energy to source quality coffee and train their friendly and welcoming people to do a good job with it. Respect!


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Scotland Coffee Lovers App

 Download from the App Store

Download from the Playstore

Our App will help you find the best independent specialty coffee shops in Scotland - quickly and easily, whether you're online or offline.

Your location will show up on our map alongside the best coffee shops - all visited and rated by us. You can choose the coffee shop that suits your style and mood based on the rating, review and photo.

download our app free from the App Store or Playstore and never have a bad coffee again!

Want to be on our app?
We're always looking to add Scottish high quality, independently owned, specialty coffee shops to our app. We review them all ourselves, an no-one pays to be listed. If you fit the bill, we'd love to hear from you, just drop us an email (scotlandcoffeelovers(at) or direct message us on Twitter or Facebook.

Why an app?
We're passionate about Scotland's independent coffee shops and want to support them by driving customers through their doors. With location services, our App makes it easy for you to find your way to the best coffee shops Scotland has to offer.

We've been reviewing indy coffee shops in Edinburgh since 2008 and have recently been inspired to expand to the whole of Scotland. Over coming weeks and months we'll load up more shops and we're working to improve how the App functions.

Our App works offline so visitors who don't have a UK phone can download it while they're on WiFi and still use it when they're offline.

You'll also stay up to date with the best coffee shops as they open across Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow - as your App will be updated regularly.

We'll continue to refine our App as our coffee scene evolves.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Lowdown Coffee

40 George St
Open every day 8am-6pm
Espresso, Kalita Wave, Torch Mountain Dripper, Clover
Coffee: Koppi
Also: Pastries, cakes, soups
Coolness: Passionate about flavour and precision

Lowdown Coffee (5♥) is on the lower ground floor of a multi-story, grandly proportioned Georgian town house in appropriately named George Street. The coffee served is excellent and brew methods varied.

Owner Paul Anderson has a close relationship with renowned Swedish roasting house Koppi, bringing yet more variety to our city's high end coffee scene.

Koppi were set up by Swedish barista champions Anne Lunell and Charles Nystrand and only roast high quality coffee they've sourced themselves and know to be sustainable.

Lowdown offer a several options in the Koppi coffee range - matching beans to brew methods across espresso, Kalita Wave, Torch Mountain Dripper and Clover. The latter two brew methods are in relative low supply in Edinburgh, as are shops that serve Koppi, so Lowdown definitely provides something unique.

The shop is wider than it is deep, accessed via stairs from street level. In sunnier months there'll be six or so tables in the outside space, plus the six or so that are inside. Running along part of the back wall is a smart, smooth work bench on which rests their prized Slayer, Mahlkonig EKK43 grinder and Clover. The decor is clean-lined and minimalist, softened with natural timber and fibre furnishings.

Tea drinkers are far from neglected. They can sip London's Postcard Teas, sourced from small farms (less than 15 acres) so it tastes good, as well as does good, for small producers and communities.

On the food side you can enjoy pastries, cakes and soups. Lowdown is also carrying the spectacularly packaged Compartés Gourmet Chocolate Bars.

All in all, a shop not to miss on the Edinburgh coffee trail.


Monday, 7 November 2016

Loft Cafe & Bakery

Peffers Place
EH41 3DR
Coffee: Artisan Roast
Also: Meals, cakes, beans
Coolness: The charming stone building belies the bakery indulgences within! 

The Loft Cafe & Bakery (4♥) is in a large, listed stone building, tucked away from Haddington's High Street in amongst East Lothian Council's buildings and behind the The Plough Tavern.  The locals are certainly enjoying The Loft, so if you have any trouble finding it, just ask someone to point you in the right direction.

The Loft's lead barista Jake does a cracking job at the espresso machine with Edinburgh's Artisan Roast Janszoon beans, their signature Sumatran/Brazilian blend. It's great to see his passion and focus being appreciated by his regulars and visitors alike with well-extracted (and regularly calibrated) shots brought together with expertly stretched milk. At this stage the Loft is one of Scotland's 'coffee oases' - in that you'll need to go a long way in any direction before you'll find coffee as good as The Loft's!

Coffee lovers can also buy take-home bags of Artisan Roast beans and aeropress machines. Jake has hopes to be able to offer more brewing equipment soon, as well as potentially offering filter coffee. Pekoe Teas are on the menu and a range of Coco, Ailey Mae and Chocolate Tree hot chocolates, which we were impressed with.

The food is equally enjoyable with a variety of gourmand preserves, oils, smoked fish, free range eggs and more. Breakfasts on the menu - available until 11.30am - include bacon and egg rolls, scrambled eggs, pancakes and granola. Lunches are wide and varied including mezze plates, toasties, sausage rolls, quiches, ploughman's, pulled pork rolls, smoked fish pate with soda bread, home-made soups and inventive salads.

The hint's in the name of this establishment that breads and cakes are a major feature. They source their ingredients locally including bread from Dunbar Bakery (who use no artificial ingredients) and Khleb Bakery in Pencaitland for stone-baked sourdough breads.  All their own baking and cooking uses Mungoswells flour which is made entirely from wheat grown on their farm in East Lothian. All manner of sweet treats also await you such as brownies, tartlets, traybakes and cake, laid out on the front bench for you to choose from.

As well as the large and spacious upstairs dining area, spread over an L-shaped space and furnished with light timber tables, chairs and the occasional sofa, The Loft also has a sheltered courtyard with outdoor seating. Due to their popularity, owners Charlotte and Anita, have also installed a take-away shop downstairs for coffee, cold drinks, sandwiches and other goodies for those on the move.


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Red Kite Cafe

7-8 Cadzow Pl
Open every day
Coffee: Artisan Roast
Also: Meals, cakes
Coolness: Brunches fit for your favourite current or previous monarch!

Red Kite Cafe (3♥) is a big open cafe on busy Cadzow Place, otherwise known as London Road, near Abbeyhill.

They're serving up Artisan Roast espresso-based coffees, in tune with their ethos of using great quality ingredients. You'll pick up all your coffee favourites plus hot chocolate and a range of Anteaques teas.

Red Kite is definitely a foodie haven. They take sourcing seriously, prioritising and naming the local producers who supply their ingredients. Brunch is a major highlight with plenty to choose from. They may include home made granola with yoghurt and compote, big breakfasts (for meat-lovers and vegetarians), shakshuka (eggs baked in tomato and peppers with lime yoghurt) and sausage rolls with onion marmalade.

There are also hearty lunches, soups, salads, tortillas, and the front counter is covered with an array of sweet sticky cakes and pastries.

There's plenty of tables and chairs and attentive friendly table service. The atmosphere is relaxed and everyone is made to feel welcome - with high chairs for little people and a bench with stools across the wide glass frontage if you're in the mood for watching the world go by.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Life Story

53 London St
Open every day except Tues & Wed
Coffee: Guests
Also: Homewares, jewellery, and lots more
Coolness: Wide array of must-haves for your home and person

Life Story (4♥) is a Scandi-inspired homewares store, completely at home on Edinburgh's creative Broughton Street. (The address is London Street but the shop faces Broughton Street)

While spending time pouring over all manner of lovely goods is already an enjoyable experience, it is of course enhanced by having a nice coffee - either sit-in or in a take-away cup while you wander about the store.

The Life Story folks are using guests including Edinburgh's Artisan Roast beans (one of their coffee shops is a one minute walk up Broughton Street), The Roasting Shed and Johan & Nystrom and doing a fine job with them. If you'd like to sit down to enjoy your espresso-based coffee, and perhaps a little bit of accompanying gluten free and/or vegan cake from Grams near Haymarket, there's a spot made just for you at the rear of the store near the window that looks on to a leafy patch of green. You'll feel very serene - surrounded by lovely designer furnishings.

The main act is definitely the large range of goodies that you didn't realise you really need until you see them. It's worth taking your time to have a good poke around in Life Story because the more you look the more you find. Greeting cards, note pads, clips, stationery, shelving, crockery, cutlery, books, cushions, furniture, artworks, lighting, candles, jewellery, waste paper baskets and the list goes on. All of a complimentary clean lines, meets clever design, meets practically useful kind of styling.