Sunday, 30 September 2018

Edinburgh Coffee Festival 6 October includes the annual Scottish Aeropress Championships

This Saturday, Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange will transform into a haven for coffee lovers, as well as featuring some fine purveyors of tea, drinking chocolate and tasty bites.

Building on the successful format of friendly stallholders, informative talks, demonstrations, skills training sessions and cuppings, this year the annual Scottish Aeropress Championships is also part of the event.

So, what delights are we all in for?

Starting with the Scottish Aeropress Championships - the most chilled of coffee competitions...

Elimination heats run from 10.30am to 1pm. At 1.30pm the audience is invited in to cheer on competitors in the two semi-finals (2pm and 3.30pm) before the final showdown at 5pm.

This year's judges Leo Belcher - Kaf Coffee, Claire Wallace - Assembly Coffee and 3rd placer in last year’s Champs and Robi Lambie - Cairngorm Coffee will literally point their fingers, paper-scissors-rock style, at their preferred brew in every heat, after blind tasting via the traditional slurp method. The one and only judging criteria is “which brew would I like to drink all of” and the judges don’t confer with each other before deciding.

Competitors have 8 minutes to prepare their Aeropress brew using only the ingredients of water and coffee. An MC will chat everyone through the event, usually with a fair amount of banter and chit chat, before holding up the arm of the crowned champion who wins travel and accommodation (thanks to iZettle) to Sydney for the World Aeropress Championships – and the adoration of their friends and ‘enemies’.

Spectating is thoroughly encouraged from 1.30pm and beer is often an important part of the event during the latter hours (for spectators) and afterwards (for judges and competitors too). There'll also be a DJ on site turning out the soundtrack.

Jumping to stallholders, this year promises another great line up. Anyone who has been to previous events will tell you they are a friendly bunch. So far onboard are:

  • These coffee roasters love talking about their coffee – where it’s from, how it’s processed, flavour profiles and home brewing. You’ll meet the friendly faces from Cairngorm, Carvetii, Dear Green, Django, Fortitude, Gather & Gather (who also offer training), Gordon Street, Obadiah, Stirling, Union and Unorthodox. Glasgow’s Thomson’s Coffee will also feature lovely shiny Victoria Arduino espresso machines and grinders.
  • Café and training facility Brew Lab are stallholders, and are also heavily involved in masterminding the Aeropress Championships.
  • Gourmands Cakesmith, Crystal Shortbread, Herbivore and Leaf & Bean will help keep your caffeine levels balanced and taste buds tantalised with mouth-watering cakes and baked items including gluten-free and vegan
  • Tea providores Eteaket and Rosevear Tea will delight you with a wide range and innovative flavours. These folk will re-inspire you to get beyond the supermarket tea bag and savour the joys of loose leaf tea and all that goes with it
  • Liquid Sunshine puts the turmeric into turmeric latte, and other health-giving drinks
  • Chocolate producers Ombar Chocolate will bring their range of dairy and sugar free raw and ethically created Ecuadorian chocolates and The Real Hot Chocolate Company will offer Madagascan drinking chocolate plus truffles and other goodies.
  • U-Roast will show you how their micro roasters enables you to roast your own coffee and also offer a variety of green coffee beans
  • Hidden Stag Design - Edinburgh based product design company who knock out stylish and ethically produced clothing, home accessories and items for coffee shops including customised coffee machines
On the learning and demonstrations front:

The Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) are running hour-long sessions on sensory (smell, taste, sight type of senses), brewing, barista and roasting. These folk are the official accreditors within the coffee industry and will give you a speedy knowledge upload at 10.15am, 11.35am, 1.30pm and 2.50pm.

Talks include Manumit Coffee How coffee helps reduce slavery (this Cardiff-based roastery trains and employs people who have suffered modern slavery), Eteaket Tea Brewing Masterclass, Brewlab Aeropress Masterclass and SCA The Importance of Coffee Education – From Seed to Cup among others.

Cuppings (how professionals taste, grade and choose coffee) from Olam Speciality Coffee (formerly Schluter) , Thomsons, Minasul and Gather & Gather (Artisan Roast).

And last, but definitely not least, the Coffee Festival is continuing to be a zero-waste event, facilitated with partners Vegware and the Corn Exchange. The Edinburgh Coffee Festival led the way last year on this front, proving it’s possible to avoid the vast environmental destruction caused by take-away coffee cups and containers. (More than 99.75% of over 2.5bn cups used annually in the UK aren't recycled and the plastic lining is particularly bad for the environment.)

The Festival is a fantastic opportunity to try different coffees, learn from friendly knowledgeable people, buy some cracking beans to brew and home and now also watch the fun and games of the Scottish Aeropress Championships.

You can organise your ticket here > Edinburgh Coffee Festival - £9 per  adult if you buy before 5 October, £10 at the door.

Friday, 28 September 2018

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.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Bearded Barista - Leith Market

Dock Place
Regular Saturdays - check his Twitter for details
Coffee: Williams & Johnson
Also: A sweet brownie type thing
Coolness: Grab a great coffee while you do your market shopping

The Bearded Barista (5♥) is Lewis - who makes excellently prepared Williams & Johnson coffee from his bicycle-based stall at the Leith Markets.

Apart from great coffee, you can also expect a very friendly and down-to-earth experience with Lewis who is very attentive and happy to chat. As are other stall-holders at the Leith Market which is a sister market to the Stockbridge and Grassmarket Markets, and an excellent addition to Leith's Saturday scene. You can pick up your fresh veggies, cheeses, fish, meat, food to eat on the spot and other produce and hand-made products. All while listening to live music and supporting your local indy producers and artisans.

While Lewis offers all the usual flat whites, lattes and long blacks, we did ask for an explanation of a 'shlongo'. It's a small long black. All his coffees have two shots of espresso unless you request otherwise and you can also pick up a tea or hot chocolate.

Williams & Johnson and Lewis regularly change their beans. You could find yourself drinking Brazilian, Costa Rican, Ethiopian or Kenyan - or something else again based on seasonality and what's tasting great at that time.

Go and grab a coffee from Lewis - it's extremely nice!

More: Bearded Barista Twitter

Friday, 21 September 2018

Loft Cafe & Bakery

Peffers Place
EH41 3DR
Espresso, Chemex
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, 16 September 2018

Daily Grind Speciality Coffee Bar

18 Exchange St
Coffee: Sacred Grounds
Also: Beans, milkshakes, baked treats
Coolness:  Tattoo-inspiration meets an ethos that would make your mum feel welcome

Daily Grind is in amongst the narrow arteries of Dundee's old city, two streets back from the river Tay.

Contrasting with the grand stone buildings of Dundee's industrial past, the glass-fronted Daily Grind takes up a sizeable piece of real estate in combination with sister business Hard Grind barber shop.

As you pass the Stoormtrooper mannequin at the door, the coffee bar and friendly baristas in the centre of the room beckon you to have a chat and place your order. You'll enjoy seasonally changing coffees from Arbroath-based Sacred Grounds and they also sell retail bags of beans for home brewing. You can get a take-away or take your time at a table along the right hand wall.

Even before you've had your coffee you may experience a bit of sensory overload when you first visit Daily Grind.

The decor is motivated by tattoo art with a retro twist. Built on a backdrop of gleaming white, your eyes are pulled from one chunky black and brightly coloured design to the next, before you notice walls filled with quirky line art of ships, hearts, skulls and other classic tattoo stalwarts. The whole left of the coffee shop is dedicated to a large range of graphic-led apparel - both their own and from Dundee brand Abandon Ship - all of which has something to say.

The best thing, though, is that this is a very welcoming place that goes out of it's way to be inclusive. As well as coffee, the team are clearly passionate about tattoos, design and barbering that's positively sculptural, but they also celebrate difference. From LGBT Pride pins at the till, to Abandon Ship's 'not everything sucks' slogan adorning the coffee machine to welcoming and interested staff, the Daily Grind offers a very friendly port to anyone, in any storm.


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Lovecrumbs Stockbridge

22 St Stephen's St
Coffee: Steampunk
Also: Cake, homewares
Coolness: Holding their own with their funky designer neighbours

Lovecrumbs (4♥) has been providing Edinburgh with top notch cakes, coffee and other goodies for some years from their shop in Westport. And now to the delight of Stockbridge locals, they've opened up in St Stephen's Street.

Located down a few steps and nestled amongst the signature elegant and often quirky home wares, fashion, restaurants and hair dressers, Lovecrumbs is holding its own.

The front and rear parts of the shop are primarily dedicated to coffee and cakes with seating, tables and stools. The middle features a range of stylish and useful kitchenalia, textiles, magazines, greeting cards, stationery and other must-haves from long time collaborators Century General Store.

With it's inviting friendliness and scrumptious cakes and coffee, we love this Lovecrumbs!


Monday, 13 August 2018

Bearded Barista - Stockbridge Market

Dock Place
Regular Saturdays - check his Twitter for details
Coffee: Williams & Johnson
Also: A sweet brownie type thing
Coolness: Grab a great coffee while you do your market shopping

The Bearded Barista (5♥) is Lewis uses Williams & Johnson coffee at his Stockbridge Markets stall on some Sundays - check Lewis' twitter feed for details.

Apart from great coffee, you can also expect a very friendly and down-to-earth experience with Lewis who is very attentive and happy to chat.

Other stalls at the Stockbridge Market (which is a sister market to the Leith and Grassmarket Markets) offer fresh veggies, seafood, poultry, meats cheeses, tasty take-away street foods and hand-made products. Many a local does their weekly fresh food shop at these markets, supporting smaller local producers which we are big fans of.

Williams & Johnson and Lewis regularly change their beans. You could find yourself drinking Brazilian, Costa Rican, Ethiopian or Kenyan - or something else depending on the season.

Grabbing a coffee and wandering around the markets is a very nice way to spend time!

More: Bearded Barista Twitter