Brew Lab: Update

The (initially) bewildering coffee menu at Brew Lab. It all seems so simple now...Continuing from last week’s update on Wild & Wood Coffee, I present another of my Wednesday/ Saturday Supplement Updates, this time from my recent trip to Edinburgh. I first visited Brew Lab during my Coffee Spot tour of Edinburgh in December 2012. Back then, Brew Lab had just opened and it had a real impact on me. With its emphasis on filter coffee and various brew methods, each chosen for a specific bean, I felt the sort of sense of confusion when looking at the menu that someone who wants a “white coffee” must experience in a modern coffee shop…

When I returned at the end of April, a mere 16 months later, I was keen to see what had, and hadn’t, changed at Brew Lab. Well, the answer, much as it had been with Wild & Wood, was “very little”. The Slayer was still there, looking very sexy on the counter (although it’s since been replaced by a Black Eagle), Brew Lab was as busy as ever, and the interior still looked as if the decorators had downed tools and walked off mid-job…

However, there have been a couple of significant changes and one of them is quite important…

You can see exactly what’s changed after the gallery.

  • Brew Lab, on Edinburgh's South College Street, now sans scaffolding.
  • Going inside, I cunningly managed to get a photo that just missed the simplified bit of the menu! Nice to see the Slayer again though.
  • Beyond the Slayer you'll find the reasons for the change: the Kalita wave filters...
  • However, I started with something from the Slayer, plus cake, of course!
  • My espresso, a Brazilian Fazenda Passeio, eyes up the grinders.
  • Onto the new stuff. My pour-over, through the Kalita Wave, was excellent.
Brew Lab, on Edinburgh's South College Street, now sans scaffolding.1 Going inside, I cunningly managed to get a photo that just missed the simplified bit of the menu! Nice to see the Slayer again though.2 Beyond the Slayer you'll find the reasons for the change: the Kalita wave filters...3 However, I started with something from the Slayer, plus cake, of course!4 My espresso, a Brazilian Fazenda Passeio, eyes up the grinders.5 Onto the new stuff. My pour-over, through the Kalita Wave, was excellent.6
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So, what has actually changed? Well, for one thing, the scaffolding that masked the front of the building has gone, although that’s hardly new news since it came down not long after my first visit. It did, however, allow me to get a decent shot of the front of Brew Lab for the first time ever.

The real change, however, is with the coffee. The Slayer is still there (although since my visit it’s been replaced by one of the UK’s first Black Eagle espresso machines), and, having missed out on it the first time, I couldn’t resist and started off with an espresso, made with a Brazilian Fazenda Passeio bean. Since all Brew Lab’s coffee comes from Has Bean, with whom I’ve had a bit of a hit-and-miss relationship in the past, I approached it with some trepidation, but I needn’t have worried. It was a lovely cup of coffee, quite complex, with a bit of body, but nothing too challenging for my palette.

I paired this with a peanut-butter millionaires shortbread which was every bit as good as it sounds. I was then joined by my friend Steve and we went for the pour-over, which is where I discovered the major change that’s taken place at Brew Lab. The V60 and Clever Drippers have been replaced with Kalita Wave filters.

I had a chat with the baristas about this and discovered it’s a fairly recent switch, resulting from Brew Lab’s Mark Williamson entering the UK Brewer’s Cup, which took place earlier that month. While practicing, the staff concluded that the Kalita Wave produced consistently better results than the other brew methods that they were using, so the switch was made.

This also had the beneficial side effect of slightly reducing the complexity of Brew Lab’s bewildering (to the uninitiated) menu. Now, instead of worrying about the brew method, you just choose from two single-origin beans. It’s also reduced the complexity for the staff, since they only have one brew method to concentrate on, which is important in a shop that’s as busy as Brew Lab. The general consensus among the baristas (both present and ex-Brew Lab staff) that I spoke to was that this was a good thing, since trying to keep on top of two brew methods when the shop was busy was hard work.

However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the proof of the coffee is in the drinking. The good news is that the pour-over that I had (a Bolivian) and that of my friend Steve, were both excellent, maintaining Brew Lab’s high standards.

Don’t forget the original Brew Lab Coffee Spot, which includes the complete write-up and an updated gallery.

 6-8 SOUTH COLLEGE STREET • EDINBURGH • EH8 9AA
www.brewlabcoffee.co.uk +44 (0) 131 662 8963
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Has Bean (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Sofas, Bar
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Pastries, Cake, Lunch
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa (£0.30 charge)
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free with code
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits Original: 11th December 2012
Update: 26th April 2014

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Edinburgh for more great Coffee Spots.


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9 thoughts on “Brew Lab: Update

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  2. Brew Lab is one of the best coffee shops in a city that has many excellent venues. Great atmosphere with its student population and people are relaxed enough to read the daily newspapers provided, catch up with university work or just chat. Also has a great buzz at festival time and the staff are certainly passionate about their product.

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