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.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Twelve Triangles Portobello

300 Portobello High St
EH15 2AS
Open every day
Coffee: Steampunk
Also: Bakery items
Coolness: Amazing filled doughnuts, pies, cake, breads

Twelve Triangles Portobello (4♥) is a bakery cafe on Portobello High Street near the corner of Bellfield Street.

Consistent with their sister shop in Leith, they do a great job with North Berwick-based Steampunk coffee. Available in take-away cups, their coffee is jam-packed with the layers of gutsy flavours we've grown to love from Steampunk.

Twelve Triangles have a justly deserved reputation for turning out high quality and creative bakery items. They started off being most famous for their filled doughnuts - before anyone else was really doing them in Edinburgh - with fillings such as maple pecan custard, chocolate peanut butter and apple and cinnamon.

They've gone on to expand their fame for creative, crusty breads (that subscribe to the Real Bread Campaign's 'no artificial additives' ethos), pies ('hand pies' with fillings such as lentil and feta, potato and cheese), focaccia with savoury herbs and toppings and a wide range of pastries, brioches, scones and buns.

This is primarily a shop where you pick up your delectable breads and coffee and wander out again clutching as much as you can carry. There's no sit-down seating provided.

Go visit. If you don't live in the area you'll wish it was your local bakery and coffee shop!


Friday, 7 October 2016


105 Fountainbridge
Every day
Coffee: Steampunk
Also: Cakes, biscuits
Coolness: Many choices of indulgent sweet treats

Fieldwork (3♥) is charming and cosy cafe on Fountainbridge that offers a wide range of home-made baked cakey things.

They're serving North-Berwick based Steampunk coffee, Anteaques loose leaf teas and Roots' sodas in a calming and elegant space that blends exposed stone with natural wood and soft lighting. The decor has a hipster feel and features a light smattering of artwork on the walls.

While Fieldwork essentially offers "drinks and cakes", the cakes are wide-ranging and impressive. Some of the difficult choices you'll need to make may include sour cherry and walnut brownies, cinnamon buns, gluten free individual carrot cakes, wholemeal apple cake, red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate icing, rose pistachio and white chocolate cake, vegan chocolate and coffee cakes and salted chocolate gluten free cookies. And there's more...

You may need more than one coffee as you'll find it hard to resist trying multiple cakes!


Thursday, 6 October 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.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Edinburgh Coffee Festival - Demonstration Room

As part of a bigger and better Edinburgh Coffee Festival, this year we’re hosting a Demonstration Room featuring expert baristas and roasters who'll share their technical expertise and knowledge about coffee beans and brewing styles.

Some questions you may get answered:

Keen to know tips and tricks for steaming smooth and velvety milk for your flatwhites or lattes? Ali McFarlane from The Counter, Niall Langlands from Century General Store Abbeyhill and Eskil Ingvarsson from Swedish roaster Johan & Nystrom will give you some smooth milk tips.

Want to brew at home but not sure what kit to buy?
Come along and see some brew methods in action. Espresso, batch brew, kalita wave, pour-over – hear what they’re all about and try some samples so you can make informed decision. Our experts include folk from Union Hand Roasted, Baba Budan, Cairngorm and William & Johnson.

Hearing about coffee flavours and origins and want to know more?
Each of our demonstrators will talk a bit about the coffee they’re using, where it comes from, how it’s roasted – all attributes that contribute to the flavours you’ll pick up. Local specialty coffee trainers Brew Lab will run a longer, detailed session as part of the programme.

Love your lattes but can’t manage dairy? Oatly have teamed up with Eskil Ingvarsson (World Brewers Cup finalist and Swedish roaster Johan & Nystrom’s Education Manager) to demonstrate their non-diary alternative that still gives you that lovely dense texture that leads to super latte art.

Want to learn about coffee and cocktails?
Burr & Co will lead a masterclass on just this very topic!

Pitch up at the door to the Histology Room in Summerhall at the following times to join in a session.



Ali McFarlane - The Counter Police Boxes and Canal Boat coffee shops – touches on his bespoke Mr Eion beans and how he makes great espresso-based drinks rain, hail and shine.
Ali’s running two sessions, one starting at 10:30 and one at 11:00am.

11.30 – 11:50 See Swedish roaster Johan & Nystrom’s Eskil Ingvarsson do amazing latte art using Oatly Foamable – a clever milk-alternative.

12.00 – 12:20 The folks from Baba Budan – Coffee, Tea, Donuterie – will talk about batch brewing and give you a taster. This brewing method is a great alternative to espresso in some of our best coffee shops.

12.30 – 12:50 Union Hand Roasted Coffee – who also have a stall at the Festival – will talk about their beans and brew up some Aeropress coffee. Loads to hear about here!

13.00 – 13:20 Niall Langlands - Century General Store Abbeyhill – will touch on London’s Assembly Roast beans and top tips for making great espresso-based coffees

13.30 – 13:50 Robi Lambie from Cairngorm Coffee will talk about his Sanremo Opera espresso machine and how he uses this high tech gear to make a perfect cup every time.

14.00 – 14:20 Edinburgh roasters William & Johnson will talk about their coffee, where they source it from and how they choose beans with juicy flavours. They’ll demonstrate the pour-over method and hand out tasters.

14.30 - 14:50 Union Hand Roasted Coffee – who also have a stall at the Festival – will talk about their beans and brew up some Aeropress coffee. Loads to hear about here!

15.00 - 15:45 John Gibson from Brew Lab will host an interactive tasting focusing on how different waters play a big part in coffee brewing. Find out why Edinburgh water is so great for brewing, and why London water isn’t.

16.00 – 16:45 Festival sponsors Burr & Co will demonstrate how to make coffee cocktails via a masterclass – ideal for budding cocktail mixologists who also love the flavour of coffee!

Buy tickets from the Edinburgh Coffee Festival online or at the door on 1 October at Summerhall!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ian Steel - J. Atkinson & Co

We caught up with Ian Steel (left) from Lancaster-based J Atkinson & Co who'll be speaking, and setting up a stall, at Edinburgh Coffee Festival, Summerhall on 1 October.

Image J Atkinson Coffee

>>  J Atkinson and Co. started business in 1837 and is part of Britain's rich tea and coffee history, how would you describe your coffee to today's customers?  <<

When Thomas Atkinson set up the Grasshopper Tea Warehouse in 1837 there were six other tea merchants in town, an indication of Lancaster's status as a once bustling West-facing port. As  the last survivor of that era we see our role today as a Talisman Business for the city, in these challenging times on the High St., buoyed up as we are by the seemingly insatiable public thirst for good coffee.

All our coffee is the top Speciality grade, most of it exclusive to us, through various schemes & farms that we work with, what you might call relationship coffee. Most of all we try to choose the most delicious coffees we can find that showcase the best of a particular terroir.

So rather than describe our different coffees with baffling Flavour Wheel descriptors we often try to bring them into familiar frames of reference, like the new Costa Rican Finca La Casa which my shorthand tasting notes refer to as being like Caramac & Hot Vimto!

>>  By watching your Facebook and Twitter it looks like music plays a big role in your lives - what's the connection?  <<

Like many who've come into the Coffee World as Career Epihanists, my wife and I had previous careers in the creative industries, as a TV Producer & a Textile Designer, so using our two cafés as creative hubs just seems a natural way to provide a focus for artistic endeavour. Lancaster is blessed with both a Jazz Festival & a Music Festival & we're more than happy to provide the venues, as well as a year round programme of our own events, ably aided and abetted by our wonderful crew of baristas, most of whom seem to have some kind of creative bent.

>>  You're speaking at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival - what's your topic? <<

Small is not only beautiful but can also have an impact all along what we increasingly refer to as the Value Chain. The Independent Coffee Shop is one of the greatest opportunities to see local specialisation tapping into a global product and being able to make a real difference in influencing policies on a wider stage. It will be sprinkled with lots of coffee stories that illustrate practical ways we can use narrative retailing to enhance our offering.

>>  We're passionate about supporting the smaller independent shops and roasters, what three things would you say to the good people of Edinburgh about why it's important to support the little guys?  <<

Number 1 would have to be Localism. We provide local jobs and invest back into the community, not just in keeping the money circulating locally but also as an informal meeting place for all sorts of activities. I'm always staggered looking around our cafés at the wide demographic we attract.

Number 2 is Diversity. The individual character of the Indy Café adds local colour to the High St. It reflects the character of its constituents. We only exist as long as our customers choose to spend their time and money with us! We may not be able to afford the exorbitant rents of the main shopping drag but we can breathe new life into the areas on the periphery.

Number 3 is Sustainability in all its many forms. You'll find local café owners to be much more dedicated stakeholders and stewards of their local environment than the faceless chains. We also tend to espouse greener initiatives and social issues with genuine enthusiasm, even though the Corporate Social Responsibility of the chains is to be applauded.

>>  Why do you think specialty coffee is a growing market and interest in the UK?  <<

The chains have done wonderful work for us as recruiting sergeants introducing people to coffee and it's only natural that consumers want to move up to the next level of quality and service that they can find in their local indy speciality shop.

>>  What's your favourite bean at the moment and why?  <<

Costa Rican Finca La Casa Red Honey Villa Sarchi because it represents something I've been looking for for a while and I think we've found it and I get to use the tasting notes of Caramac & Hot Vimto!

>>  Any tips for home brewing and generally being a specialty coffee enthusiast?  <<

Invest in a good grinder. Stick to manual brewing. Try to ascertain the roasted-on date of the beans and use them from 2 days to 2 weeks after roast.  Use scales. Enjoy yourselves!

Hear more from Ian at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 1 October at Summerhall, Edinburgh.

Image J Atkinson & Co.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Machina Espresso Southside

80 Nicholson St
Open every day
Espresso, batch brew
Coffee: Machina Espresso
Also: Meals, pastries
Coolness: Spaciously zen metal and timber fit out 

Machina Espresso Southside is the sister to their long-established coffee shop in Tollcross - near The Meadows.

Visitors can enjoy their seasonally changing Machina Espresso White Label blend (60% Colombia - 40% El Salvador), as well as their own single origin roasts, as espresso-based and batch brew drinks. The baristas are excellent and the quality of the coffee served is consistently amongst Edinburgh's best.

While this shop is very much focused on the cafe side of their business, Machina have a raft of experience because they also sell wholesale and retail coffee making equipment and provide advice to other coffee shops as well as consumers.

The shop is spacious with high ceilings, loads of light and clean lines of light-coloured timber, thin cubic steel and copper pendant lighting. Seating is a mix of wooden chairs, tables, stools and benches.

Food includes meals, cakes and pastries.