Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Coffee and cycling in Scotland - Our survey

Every day, especially on weekends, thousands of cyclists across Scotland don their gear and get out on the road (or off-road) for the pure joy of it.

It's commonly accepted that cyclists are quite partial to coffee.

After talking about it with fellow coffee enthusiast Professor Chris Oliver, University of Edinburgh Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, we decided we wanted to know more about the role coffee plays in Scottish cycling culture.

So we've put together this survey and want as many people who cycle, or have cycled, in Scotland to complete it as possible.

The data will help us to:

  • Better understand the relationship between cyclists, coffee and coffee shops across Scotland
  • Share and promote the independent coffee shops that cyclists recommend, which benefits small businesses as well as fellow-cyclists
  • Share the much-loved routes of cyclists across Scotland.
We'll share the results via our app, this blog, twitter, our facebook page and other media - pretty much every way we can.

Thanks in advance for getting involved by completing the survey or sharing it with your cycling buddies or cycle-friendly coffee shops.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Leo and Ted

36 Leven St
Open every day
Coffee: Nude Espresso & guests
Also: Cakes and soup
Coolness: Large array of cakes including gluten-free

Leo & Ted is a coffee shop and bakery, near Tollcross, just along from The King's Theatre as you head toward Bruntsfield.

They offer very well made London-based Nude Espresso's 'East' blend alongside guest beans. Their coffee plays a central role in this small and welcoming shop. We can expect to be treated to lesser-known and carefully chosen beams.

Leo & Ted is owned by the same folk as Leo's Beanery in the New Town and has completely different feel. It's got plenty of it's own personality with polished black stone high table tops on ornate yellow ironwork legs and exposed brick. The pendant lights and wooden benches and fittings provide warmth and softness to the space, giving it a bit of an old world atmosphere.

Leo's are somewhat famed for their cakes and traybakes so you're bound to find something tempting. They've also honed their gluten-free options and offer soups.

The shop itself is fairly small and cosy with big front windows, high ceilings and friendly service. I wish this one was around the corner from my place.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

PostRoast - latest bean provider in the burgh

Adam Bennett, founder of
We caught up with Adam Bennett, founder of Edinburgh's recently established roasting subscription service PostRoast, to find out what they offer coffee lovers.

We've been keeping our eye on the ever-increasing number of beans Edinburghers can now get their hands on easily. As we outlined in our previous article, we've got local roasters Artisan Roast and Mr Eion plus a wide range of other roasters' beans on offer from the majority of our best indy coffee shops. And then there are new coffee subscription services popping up frequently that deliver beans, whole or ground, to your home on a regular basis. With PostRoast being Edinburgh-based, we wanted to find out more.

So what's the PostRoast story? 
In a nutshell, at this time, their points of differentiation are inexpensive price, only delivering the exact quantity you require every 7 days and super simple product descriptions that purposely avoid jargon or detailed coffee origin and processing information or tasting notes.

To give you an indication of pricing, at the time of writing this story, "7 cups of the freshest, top quality coffee (which cannot be found in any supermarket), delivered right to your doorstep every single week is £3.49." 14 cups a week is £5.09 and 21 cups is £6.59 and so on. Adam calculates "14g per 250 ml and have ensured our simple brewing methods are optimised for this."

We had a few specific questions for Adam and this is what he had to say about his newly launched business:
  • PostRoast is one of kind. We post the exact amount of coffee you need for your week on the day that its roasted, that is exceptional coffee without the artisan jargon which is why many are scared of the coffee world. We want to let the UK public easily drink, exceptional coffee, inexpensively. No where else can you buy coffee as fresh for such a good price, and we all know freshness is absolutely key to a good brew.
  • PostRoast is an innovative distribution system, we work closely with our partner roaster to select and blend our own two blends “strong & punchy” and “smooth and velvety”. We provide an artisan product without the artisan label (or price), we found that is what many people want, a description that is exactly what it says on the tin. Also, all our coffee is bought at higher than fair-trade prices. 
  • Benefits: The freshest possible exceptional coffee; an amazing price; absolute ease and control; coffee packed for your needs so no waste stale coffee at the end of the week; accessible coffee without the jargon. 
  • Differentiations from other subscription services: Your coffee will always be posted within 24 hours of roasting; We work out the exact amount of coffee you need for the week and post this amount every 7 days; The best pricing available. 
We also asked Adam a little about himself:
  • Even before coming to University I wanted to set up my own business. I used to work as a barista, back in the day before coffee subscriptions, and as I was pulling shots customers were talking about and I had a lightbulb moment that coffee would be perfect for the mail delivery model. From there I began developing the business in any spare time I had, after raising funds and winning the University of Edinburgh enterprise award I am finally there!
  • I love Edinburgh's coffee scene, living around the Newington area I have had many a coffee in Kili (who use square mile fantastically), Brew lab, Artisan Roast... and now Filament are on the scene. The offering is huge and I know many students are even turning to local establishments as opposed to large chains. 
Go to PostRoast to find out more.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Find the best coffee in Edinburgh with our App

 Download on the App Store
Our App will help you find the best independent coffee shops in beautiful Edinburgh - quickly and easily, whether you're online or offline. Your location will show up on our city map alongside the the best coffee shops. You can choose the coffee shop that suits your style and mood based on the rating, review and photo.

If you have an iPhone you can download the App from the App Store or you can find out more from iTunes.

Why an App?
We're passionate about our city's independent coffee shops. We want to support our great coffee shops by driving customers through their doors, and we want consumers to experience Edinburgh's great coffee scene. With location services, the App makes it easy for you to find your chosen coffee shop.

For £0.79p you'll stay up to date with the best coffee shops in Edinburgh - your App will be updated regularly.

We'll continue to refine our iPhone App and are now working on developing our App for Android.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Choosing your roaster - tips & guidance

Over the moon as I am that we have an-ever-growing choice of independent and passionate specialty coffee roasters from which to buy our beans, I had one burning question as a coffee lover: How do we know which of these specialty roasters are good?

I’d made some decisions myself. Buying beans used in my favourite coffee shops was a safe bet. And relying on detailed descriptions provided by roasters that confirmed the origins of beans was another but I wondered if there was more I should know.

I caught up with Lloyd Burgess, long-time coffee lover and owner of to pick his brains. Lloyd’s site offers online purchase of over 100 specialty coffees from 18 artisanal roasters on a subscription or one-off basis. His site also sports the definitive BIG list of UK roasters, currently sitting at around 330.

So, are we safe to buy from any of the burgeoning number of passionate (and often bearded) coffee roasters delightfully cropping up all over the UK? A resounding “yes” is the answer and instead we should be asking another question.

Lloyds’s default position is that “most roasters are really good...they’re mostly pretty small: one person and their dog (and often don’t even have the dog), but they’re passionate and friendly and want to talk all day and night about how they roast and where their beans come from. That’s the great part of it.” Lloyd reinforced often in our conversation that it all comes down to personal taste. As everyone likes different things, there’s no right or wrong about which roaster to use.

The question we should be asking instead is: ”what profile beans should I buy to suit my needs?”. Lloyd’s talking about whether the roast is light, medium or dark alongside the type of bean that suits some brew methods more than others.

Profile (in very simplistic terms) results from the length of time beans are roasted, the temperature and the bean type. As beans roast they lose moisture and the chemicals in the beans change, affecting the sweetness, acidity and bitterness. Lloyd explains that the profile is how beans are roasted for a particular brew method. Roasting for espresso is quite different to how you roast for a filter and the roaster has a taste in mind when they roast.

That said, Lloyd’s advice is to visit the roasters yourself to see how they roast their coffee. Talk to them to understand how they’ve roasted their beans and which ones suit your preferred brew method. “This is what switched it on for me, when I saw how it was all done”. He says “while it’s incredibly easy to roast coffee, it’s really difficult to get it right and how roasters adjust the profile based on small changes in the bean through the roasting process is really specialist”.

I asked Lloyd specifically about ‘old style’ and ‘new style’ coffee roasters, given the UK has a very long history of importing and roasting coffee. Many an historic old town across the UK has a tea and coffee merchant nestled next to the ‘sweetie shop’ that has been continuously operating “since 1800-something-or-other”. Even the smell of the coffee in these shops is different to what I’ve experienced in my local ‘new style; roasters and is not to my taste. If you’re like me and prefer a lighter coffee and plenty of variety, Lloyd provided the following guidance.

New style roasters:
  • are passionate and knowledgeable about the traceability of the coffee (about the farm or cooperative that grew the coffee and the way the beans have been processed)
  • frequently stock new types of beans including micro-lots (small batches of extra special beans from a single hill, plot or farm)
  • tend to roast lighter - although not always the case
  • are very focussed on different brew methods and recipes - e.g. might say 'for this bean as an espresso use 20g, 25 seconds extraction to produce 30ml of coffee’.
So if you want to verify that you’re buying the coffee you like, you could ask the roaster what brew method and recipe they recommend for a particular coffee.  If they can't provide a clear answer, you might not walk away with what you like.

Some roasters visit coffee-growing countries to choose which coffee they’ll buy. Does this make them better? “Small roasters can’t afford to go tripping around but that doesn’t discredit their passion or ability to roast coffee” says Lloyd. “It’s great that larger roasters do this but they’re all different. A lot of roasters get their coffee from big UK and European suppliers and every single one I’ve met is passionate about what they do” Lloyd adds

He says there’s no way to generalise about which roaster to go to but warns about thinking fancy branding is better. “A lot of new companies will spend a lot on fancy logos but that doesn’t mean they’re better than someone who hasn’t”. Lloyd mentions one of the best Kenyan coffees he has had for a while.  It was from South East London’s Dark Fluid Coffee who has minimal branding, sells their beans in brown bags that have the bean type written on the bags with pen.

Lloyd put his site together to give people a choice and it’s been going for just over a year, growing to 18 roasters with others approaching him all the time. His focus is on offering coffee variety, not just roaster variety. Avoiding duplication is key in his decision making and his coffees change quite frequently. Some of the roasters tiny micro lots come and go very quickly, while others have stocked the same coffee since he started. And just by the way, Lloyd’s preferred brew method is Aeropress: “it’s simple and makes great coffee”.

Local specialty roasters in Edinburgh that I’ve visited and chatted with are Artisan RoastMr Eion. Steampunk and Norther Edge. Additionally there’s a growing range of roasters online you can buy from, including Lloyd’s of course.

Monday, 26 October 2015


3 Bristo Pl
Open every day
Coffee: Roundsquare Roastery
Also: Meals, alcohol
Coolness: Big, funky, welcoming space and decor

Checkpoint (3♥) is located in the Old Town, on the left as you leave George IV bridge behind you and head toward Bristo Square. Open from 9.30am to midnight, they've set up their menu and space to have wide appeal as your day progresses.

Checkpoint is using Scotland's Roundsquare Roastery House Blend, and succeed in delivering a gutsy brew that we think tips its hat gently toward a traditional Italian style. As it's early days we'll continue to check in, as it were, to see how their coffee evolves.

The restaurant is large and airy and there's plenty of space between wooden tables. The traditional and massive windows front and back are great features and a nice counterpoint to the industrial decor, reinforced by the large orange shipping container in one corner.

Open from morning to midnight, the menu offers a wide and inventive choice, drawing on inspiration from around the world. You can start your day with Arbroath smokies or caponata with eggs and move on to salads and Po Boys (Louisiana sandwiches) or tuck into a main of steak, pigeon or the catch of the day.

The staff are welcoming and attentive, helping to set the relaxed atmosphere and we look forward to dropping into Checkpoint regularly.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Poddington's Coffee House

14 Straiton Mains
EH20 9PW
Open every day
Coffee: Mr Eion bespoke blend
Also: Meals, cakes
Coolness: An indy coffee break from big brand retail therapy

Poddington's Coffee House (3♥) is located within Straiton Retail Park and offers real coffee, cake, breakfast and lunch, alongside friendly service.

Poddington's use a bespoke blend by local roaster Mr Eion and take care with how they prepare it. Owner Gavin Dove has gone out of his way to source their produce as close to his shop as possible with the aim of both supporting the local community and minimising the environmental impact of food miles.

The shop is modern glass and steel, in keeping with the rest of the retail park and shares the space with a wide range of major brands including clothing, homewares, electricals and furnishing. Needless to say there's plenty of parking.

Once you step into the shop, you're greeted by friendly staff as you place your order and pay at the counter. Then take a seat and your order will be brought to you.

On the food side there's a wide array of cakes, including gluten free, as well as breakfast options of cereal, toast and waffles and lunch of soup, stromboli or toasties.

We've got big respect for Gavin and his crew who are an indy coffee outpost, relatively speaking. Bravo!