Machina Espresso might just be the perfect coffee shop. Set a little back on a wide pavement on Brougham Place in Edinburgh’s west end, it’s not a huge place, with just enough room for a few tables, a counter and multiple displays for coffee equipment. However, there’s an atmosphere about the place that just feels right, a certain calm that even an intransigent toddler (who was swiftly taken home by an indignant parent) couldn’t ruin.
Machina Espresso started life in Lock-up Coffee, a city-centre, weekend pop-up run by Ben Wylie, a barista at the late, much lamented Freemans Coffee. Back then, Machina Espresso was just an equipment supplier, but in November last year it moved into its current premises to become a fully-fledged coffee shop. The equipment is still here: (very) shiny espresso machines from Rocket and Expobar; compact grinders, great cups, tampers, pouring kettles… Everything, in fact, that you need to make great coffee at home.
However, if you can’t wait, Machina Espresso will happily serve you coffee (and cake). During my visit, the espresso was from nearby Steampunk Coffee and London’s Nude Espresso, with three single-origins on filter (all made through the Chemex). Spoilt for choice!
May 2017: Machina Espresso, as well as having a second shop (which I’ve not visited) is now roasting its own coffee!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The brainchild of Steve Glencross, working closing with Michael McCracken of Glasgow-based Fun In A Cup, Machina Espresso, which was launched this time last year, has quickly gone from on-line retailer to coffee shop. And what a lovely coffee shop it is!
Set slightly back from the road, there are a couple of tables outside, tucked away under the protection of a conveniently-placed hedge. However, more delights await when you step inside. Machina Espresso has a simple design, whitewashed walls and ceiling, complementing the plain grey floor and paintwork. The interior’s almost square, door on the left, window bar immediately to your right as you come in. The counter, a lovely, tiled affair, complete with wooden top, sits at the back with five 2-3 person tables arrayed between it and the window.
The left-hand wall holds the espresso machines and grinders, with cups and kettles above, all betraying Machina Espresso’s origins as an equipment retailer. Don’t worry, Machina Espresso hasn’t forgotten its roots: if you want to get geeky over a home espresso machine and grinder (and potentially walk out with one under each arm) then you can!
Next comes an interesting selection of pastries, which continues onto the main counter itself. There is more coffee-making kit (and coffee) for sale behind the counter and in a shelving unit by the window.
So, what of the coffee? Machina Espresso has two espressos, Nude Espresso’s East Blend, and the Tiger Espresso blend from Steampunk of North Berwick (which I believe is the house-blend). Since I can get Nude from a variety of outlets in London, it seemed silly to come all this way just to have it, so I went for the Tiger Espresso.
What a choice! This was a very fine espresso indeed: smooth, full-bodied, and with no bitterness, it had a great mouth feel, with none of the sharpness that I find can add a slightly unpleasant edge. It was one of the best espressos I’ve had in a very long time. I was so impressed that I bought a bag to take home and, while Silvia hasn’t been able to reach quite the same heights (I blame the barista, ie me), it’s been providing consistent espresso shots and goes really well with milk too.
If espresso’s not your thing, there are filter options. While I was there, these were a Peru Tunki, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Kenya Ndimaini (all from Steampunk). You can buy all the beans and more!
I was well looked after by my baristas, Kiwi Mel and Kelly from Maryland. To accompany my espresso, I had a hazelnut and chocolate chip brownie because, as I came in, Mel brought them through from the back and told me that she’d baked them especially for me. Well, it would have been rude not to have one. It was a lovely brownie: gooey in the centre, crunchy on top and very chocolaty, which was nicely offset by the nuts.
I wanted to buy one of the (very shiny) espresso machines and was very taken by the compact grinders. However, having already got a perfectly good espresso-grinder combo, I settled for one of the awesome Inker cups (the tulip espresso cup in blue). Not that I don’t already have lots of espresso cups too, but it was more portable!
November 2014: On my next visit to Edinburgh, I popped back into Machina Espresso with my friend Kate. This time I finally managed to meet Steve, plus two very friendly dogs, Fred, the shop dog, who is a greyhound, and Coco, a miniature dachshund, who is a regular visitor.For those who are interested, I’ve updated the gallery with their pictures.
I was there for lunch, and got to sample the lentil soup, plus an Isle of Mull cheddar, lettuce, tomato, apple and chutney sandwich, both of which were excellent. I also had a very mellow, laid-back Sidamo from Bonanza through the Chemex, the perfect afternoon coffee. I also met Andrew, from Brooklyn, who popped in as part of his UK coffee pilgrimage.
|2 BROUGHAM PLACE • EDINBURGH • EH3 9JU|
|www.machina-espresso.co.uk||+44 (0) 131 229 3495|
|Monday||08:30 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 18:00||Food||Cake, Soup, Sandwiches|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 18:00||Service||Order at counter|
|Thursday||08:30 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||08:30 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||10:00 – 18:00||Power||Limited|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||27th 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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