Tuesday, 19 September 2017

What’s on at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival

The next annual Edinburgh Coffee Festival is at the Corn Exchange on 14 October.

This third Festival will give coffee lovers loads of opportunities to taste different coffees, learn how to brew from experts, and get to know our coffee roasters and tea merchants – plus eat great cake and street food and buy great coffee making gear.

Some exhibitors and programme details are yet to be finalised, but here’s an update on plans so far...

But wait... before starting, coffee lovers should definitely consider signing up for the SCA ‘Introduction to Coffee’ course that I’ve already written about. The cost of the Festival ticket is included in the £60 fee and it’s an opportunity to spend three hours learning from accredited professional coffee trainers for half the price of the usual course. And also, while we’re talking bargains, you can buy a festival-ticket-Frank-Green-cup-combo that means you’ll get a Smart Cup for 40% off and be both stylish and environmentally heroic ongoing.

Now, on to the Festival update, here’s what you get for your money...

The Corn Exchange will be converted into an exhibition space for over 40 stall-holders. While the majority are coffee-related (the hint is in the name of the Festival), there’s a healthy smattering of tea, cake, doughnut and food stalls to help you regulate your caffeine levels and other cool stalls such as coffee equipment suppliers who’ll help you brew with the best.

Coffee and tea stall-holders will offer tasters and talk about their sourcing, flavours and how to brew best. They’re a friendly and passionate bunch who like nothing more than sharing their knowledge and answering questions. They’ll also have bags of coffee and tea to buy and take home.
Stall-holders you’ll meet include:

There’ll also be two areas dedicated to talks & demonstrations and one to cupping that you can opt into on the day. They’ll be low-key, small group sessions and the full programme will be publicised closer to the event. Some sessions on the programme include:
  • Speciality Coffee Association talking about how to run a coffee shop
  • Roasters Machina and Carvetii and leaf tea experts Eteaket sharing their knowledge about sourcing and brewing
  • Environmentally responsible packaging company Vegware talking about sustainability
  • Lisa Cathrow from Zest talking about how to support people facing barriers to employment through working at coffee shops
  • Falcon Coffees and Schulter (Green coffee companies) and Brazilian coffee co-op Minasul will be amongst those running cupping sessions so you can taste and compare coffee aromas and flavours. (Cupping is the technique that professionals all over the world use to rate coffee and that involves standardised steps, ratios of water to coffee, timings and slurping).
Environmental sustainability is a big theme of the event which, with Vegware’s help, will be a zero waste event. The vast majority of the millions of disposable coffee cups dished out every day in the UK are an environmental disaster because they’re not compostable and they can’t currently be effectively recycled.

Not using a disposable cup at all is the best option - either sitting in and enjoying the ambience or bringing your own transportable cup and snagging a discount on your coffee in many of Edinburgh’s finest coffee shops. I’ll be making this discount clearer on my blog and app soon to help you choose where to drink great coffee!

I’ll update you again closer to 14 October but in the meantime you can buy your tickets and find out more on the Edinburgh Coffee Festival website.

A shot from last year's Coffee Festival

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Coffee Stories - Matt Clark from Cloud Coffee

In the lead up to this year's Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October, we're publishing regular stories about some of the people that are involved, and that make our specialty coffee scene great. They're a passionate and varied bunch!

Today's 'Coffee Story' features Matt Clark, co-owner of specialty coffee subscription service Cloud Coffee.

Photo: Cloud Coffee
Intro: Cloud Coffee a multi-roaster coffee subscription service that has been operating since the start of 2017. Each month Cloud Coffee selects a different roaster from around the UK and Europe and sends subscribers their single origin coffee along with information about the roaster. Additionally, Cloud Coffee sells a range of coffee equipment from their website, and offers brew guides to help you get the best out of your beans at home.

When did you get into the specialty coffee industry and what attracted you to setting up a coffee-related business? We started working with Swedish speciality roaster, Johan & Nystrom, around 3 years ago - importing their coffee for several cafes, restaurants and hotels around Scotland. They really opened my eyes to the speciality coffee scene and have provided incredible training and education. We came up with the idea for Cloud Coffee because we were frustrated by the existing coffee subscription services that were mostly catering for people already in the industry. They generally didn't feel accessible for people just getting into the speciality coffee world and none were educational.

What do you love most about being in specialty coffee? The culture. Coffee culture feels so different from any other industry. There’s a huge willingness to share information and collaborate.

Photo: Cloud Coffee
What tips would you give coffee lovers? Geek out on coffee! Coffee is complex, and it really pays off to do read as much as possible and experiment with it to ensure you get the best out of the coffee. There’s so much information out there that it can be a bit overwhelming, but once you get basic knowledge of how coffee extraction works and why measuring everything is so important, you’ll be making brews that your friends and family will rave about.

What tips would you give people considering a career in the coffee industry? Try and find your niche. There’s a lot going on in the coffee world, you’ll need to work hard and find a new approach to stand out in the crowd.

Any other pearls of wisdom? Start every day with a great coffee, it’ll improve your life immeasurably!

Cloud Coffee will be taking a stand at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Quay Commons

92 Commercial St
Open every day
Coffee: Williams & Johnson
Also: Meals, cake, wine

Quay Commons (4♥) is a friendly combination of bakery, cafe, restaurant, bar and wine shop located in a historic industrial warehouse a stone's throw from Leith's Custom House and The Shore. You can walk in off Commercial Street through the stone-arch and past bulk bags of fresh veggies or via the rear of the row of warehouses and their large outdoor area - amongst the rail track and water ways of times gone by.

Owned by the same folk as restaurant Gardener's Cottage, Quay Commons have chosen hyper local coffee roasters Williams & Johnson - who are a few doors away in Customs Lane.

Quay Commons do a fine job serving espresso-based coffees using W&J's seasonal espresso blend of single origin beans. We're big fans of W&J coffees because they're juicy, interesting and change regularly so drinkers get to explore origins as the seasons change. (We also thought Quay Commons' cups were rather nice).

That said, the food and wine are the main act here with breakfast, lunch, dinner and cakes aplenty. They're passionate foodies with proven form - pun intended - as their sop notch bakery is a big part of their offering. Their breads are cracking in their own right, but also perfect for showcasing some of Scotland's finest produce including cheeses, charcuterie, eggs, smoked fish, roasted veggies, salads and olives. And their cakes, biscuits and puddings are delightful and varied.

These are early days and Quay Commons are working through their dinner menu ideas. You can enjoy sharing platters and hearty meals - including vegetarian-friendly options - at communal tables, accompanied by quality wines. Quay Commons also operates as a wine shop so you can buy a bottle at off-licence prices, pay a corkage fee, and take home any you don't manage to finish.

We definitely need to return to try more of their fantastic menu and see how things continue to evolve. We envy the people who live nearby Quay Commons and can drop in any time!

More: facebook.com/quaycommons/

Saturday, 2 September 2017

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)yahoo.co.uk) 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.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Coffee Stories - SCA Course - Introduction to Coffee

Photo: SCA
For the first time, the Edinburgh Coffee Festival is partnering with the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) to run their Introduction to coffee course, at the Corn Exchange, as part of the day. And there's a very sound rationale.

The increasing number of people seeking out speciality coffee is not looking like slowing down any time soon. Around 2.3 billion coffees are bought in shops across the UK each year, and we're seeing more high quality coffee shops opening across Scotland all the time. So a career in the coffee industry is sought after by many and finding and keeping talented staff, critical to the success of our coffee shops.

And coffee drinkers aren't just getting choosier about their coffee shops, they're also getting more discerning and adventurous with the coffee they're making at home.

The cost of home coffee equipment is getting more affordable as technology improves. And manual brewing is even less expensive using kit such as V60, Chemex, Kalita Wave and Aeropress. Home brewers are turning their attention (and their money) toward trying different roasters, origins and flavour profiles as they tinker with their grind size and timing, seeking the perfect extraction.

Jim Watson - SCA Trainer
So if you want to polish up your skills and knowledge, here's the run down:
  • There are 60 positions available for the half-day course - 30 in the morning, and 30 in the afternoon
  • It's a bargain at £60! Normally this course is around twice the cost 
  • Two extremely knowledgeable coffee professionals who are also SCA qualified trainers will lead the sessions - Jim Watson who heads up The Scottish Barista Academy and Alex Passmore Head Trainer at Origin Coffee Roasters
  • A ticket to the Coffee Festival is included in the cost of the course
  • You'll learn about how coffee has evolved from its origins in Ethiopia to the major commodity it is today
  • And understand the process from picking the coffee cherries through drying, roasting, brewing and finally drinking
  • The course includes a coffee 'cupping' so you'll experience how professionals distinguish flavour and aroma. 
  • The Introduction to Coffee course is a first step on SCA Coffee Diploma System certification 

Find out more about the SCA Introduction to Coffee Course.

Book a place at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October before they sell out!
Alex Passmore - SCA Trainer
Photo: Sprudge
Photo: SCA

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Coffee Stories - Gareth & Angharad from Carvetii Coffee

In the lead up to this year's Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October, we're publishing regular stories about some of the people that are involved, and that make our specialty coffee scene great. They're a passionate and varied bunch!

Today's 'Coffee Story' features Angharad MacDonald & Gareth Kemble, owners and founders of Carvetii Coffee located in Keswick.

Photo: Westmoreland Gazette
Intro: We are speciality coffee roasters, though our business now includes the supply, maintenance and repair of espresso machines and associated equipment. We provide a range of training courses to both wholesale and home customers and have more recently started dabbling in loose leaf tea. Increasingly we are providing consultancy support for new start-ups.

What year did you switch on to specialty coffee? We've always been speciality coffee roasters. In fact we adhere so closely to the ethos of speciality coffee that in six years of trading, we have yet to sell a bag of ground coffee.

What attracted you to the specialty coffee business? We roast the coffee we enjoy drinking, in a way that suits our preference. It just happens that we enjoy speciality coffee. We don't try to be all things to all people. If we don't enjoy a coffee then we won't sell it. We also felt that the speciality sector provides a sustainable future for the industry.

What do you love most about it now? It's what we don't like that drives us on. So many in the industry seem to want to out-do others, and in doing so I fear a large part of our sector is distancing itself   from the majority of coffee drinkers. We are a coffee drinkers' speciality roaster - no pretension, just well developed, accessible coffee which reflects the origin from where it was sourced.

What tips would you give coffee lovers? It's been said so many times, but it is probably the best tip we can offer - invest in the best grinder you can afford. Also stick to hand brewed coffee for home use and leave espresso to your favourite coffee shop.

What tips would you give people considering a career in coffee? Work your way through the ranks and don't try to run before you can walk! Get as much experience as possible across the whole spectrum of the industry. We spent a year working for a coffee chain before opening our business. Ok, the coffee wasn't great but we learnt so much about systems, workflow and marketing from that period.

Any other pearls of wisdom? It's not just about the roaster. When we started our business the industry seemed to   be excited about the origin. Farmers were at last elevated to their rightful place and we recognised how the flavour of the coffee was influenced at origin. While the growth in micro roasters is no doubt a good thing for our industry, there seems to be too much attention given to this aspect of the coffee chain. If you love coffee start exploring origin characteristics more - try different processing methods, or why not compare an AA Kenyan to an AB Kenyan?

The Carvetii team will be taking a stand at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Coffee Stories - Louise from Tasty Buns Bakery

In the lead up to this year's Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October, we're going to publish regular stories about some of the people that are involved, and make our specialty coffee scene great. They're a passionate and varied bunch!

Our first 'Coffee Story' features Louise Campbell, owner, barista and baker extraordinaire of Tasty Buns Bakery - 67 Bread Street, Edinburgh.

Intro: We are a small coffee shop using a blend roasted by Mr Eion and we do all our own baking onsite.

When did you switch on to specialty coffee? Personally, probably when I moved to Edinburgh in 2011. I was never a huge coffee drinker myself until I hit University and the choice of great little spots in Edinburgh opens up your mind to a whole new side of coffee - or at least that's what I found!? Maybe I just matured with age! When we got the keys for our shop on Bread Street, the first thing we did was a tasting with Mr Eion - I was up for using someone local and passionate and he fitted the bill!

What attracted you to opening a coffee shop? I originally moved to Edinburgh to study for a Masters in Forensic Anthropology - which I was enjoying - but that was when I started baking and using it as a *slight* distraction from essays and coursework. When I figured I was pretty good at it, and that people actually really liked eating it, I finished my course early and started working in some cafes around Edinburgh whilst looking for the right space for us to start in. I had always wanted to work with food but my mother was a Chef and she always said 'No - it's rubbish hours and not great pay. Do something with your Science!'

What do you like most about it now? I love it. But the best bit has to be our customers. We have only been open just over a year now but we already have a wonderful bunch of regulars (even ones who have helped us carry a big new mixer that arrived for us from sitting outside the shop to our kitchen downstairs). I also love getting out and doing events such as the Edinburgh Coffee Festival. It's a nice change of scenery and pace and it gives us the opportunity to talk about what we love most - baked goodies!

What tips would you give people considering a career in coffee and cake? I would say that without a doubt opening Tasty Buns Bakery is the best and the hardest thing I have ever done. There is always going to be comparisons to other coffee shops and cafes so I think the most important thing is to have faith - believe in the product you make and sell. Keep experimenting - that's what keeps the love for what you do alive. And...... I would say always keep an eye on what's going on with the Coffee and Food scene in Edinburgh - it is always changing and evolving and that is a WONDERFUL thing!

Any other pearls of wisdom? Get an Aeropress. Best thing I ever bought. Delicious coffee at home, but also anywhere else your heart desires!? It's genius. And always *slightly* under-bake your Brownies and then leave them overnight to set before cutting them!

Louise and Tasty Buns Bakery will be taking a stand at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival on 14 October.

Photos: Louise Campbell