Dear Green Coffee

The Dear Green logo, taken from one of the bags of coffee.Today’s Saturday Supplement is another in the occasional Meet the Roaster series. Continuing with the Glasgow/Commonwealth Games theme, we’re at Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee, roasting high-quality coffee in the heart of the city since 2011. Dear Green roasts two main espresso blends, Goosedubbs and Treron (a seasonal blend), various bespoke blends and 16 single-origin beans. These are mostly for filter, which forms an ever-increasing percentage of Dear Green’s growing output.

I first discovered Dear Green Coffee when I visited the much-missed Razzo Coffee in Edinburgh. I met Dear Green’s founder and head roaster, Lisa Lawson, at the London Coffee Festival in 2013, when, against all the odds, she persuaded me to try her take on the traditional Italian caffè corretto. This was a single shot of the Treron blend, taken with a drop of whisky and honey. To my even greater surprise, I really liked it! Given that I can’t stand whisky and hate having sugar in my coffee, it’s high praise indeed!

I met up with Lisa again at this year’s London Coffee Festival, when we arranged for me to visit the Dear Green roastery as part of my trip to Glasgow on behalf of Caffeine Magazine.

November 2015: Dear Green has moved to a new, much larger roastery near the Barrowland Ballroom. Unfortunately I’ve not had time to check out the new roastery on my last two trips to Glasgow.

You can see what I found out after the gallery.

  • As well as a play on Glasgow's name, Dear Green could be a reference to the raw material!
  • Of course, green beans need roasting... But where's the roaster...? Looks a bit small...
  • ... OK, this is what I'm looking for, the 12kg Probat. The little 'un was the sample roaster!
  • Step 1: fill the big funnel at the top with green beans using the hi-tech bucket method!
  • When full, Lisa pulls a lever and away we go...
  • ... Or more precisely away they go! Going...
  • ... Going...
  • ... Gone!
  • I've never seen a roaster from this angle before.
  • The beating (rotating?) heart of the Probat (before the beans were added).
  • It quickly gets up to roasting temperature: you could bake potatoes in that!
  • You can just see the beans through the little observation window.
  • But for a closer look, there's the sample scoop.
  • Lisa declares that they are almost done.
  • Two minutes later, out they come!
  • They're still pouring out...
  • ... almost done now.
  • And that's it!
  • Lisa closes the hatch and the beans are set to cool as quickly as possible.
  • I love watching the beans going round and round in the roasting pan.
  • I've not met a roaster who is quite as hands on as Lisa.
  • I mean that both metaphorically and literally!
  • She likes nothing better than to get the beans in her hands.
  • Here's another handful...
  • Don't they look lovely?
  • Back they go.
  • As soon as the beans are cool enough, they're fed out into the bucket.
  • This is another process I can watch for ages.
  • The rotating arms sweep the beans around the pan...
  • ... and when they reach the front, out they come in a rush!
  • Almost done now.
  • Once the beans have been roasted, they need to be bagged up (and sometimes ground).
  • Here's some of the previous day's output ready to go.
  • Dear Green ships all over the country...
  • Of course, I've never met a roaster who doesn't offer you coffee... Here are beans...
  • They are pre-weighed in little tins, ready for grinding.
  • And off we go. I'm glad I'm not the only one who puts things under the cups.
  • Looking good!
  • It tasted every bit as good as it looked: a Bolivian single-origin espresso.
  • Next up, espresso in a glass! I love the way you can see the crema developing.
  • Nice tamper :-)
  • It's not just espresso. There's latte art too!
  • Looking good!
  • Here we go...
  • Lovely latte-art, terrible picture!
  • Here's one they prepared earlier... Fortunately, I did a better job photographing this one!
  • Next up, cold brew! At this point, I decided that Lisa was try to kill me with caffeine!
  • It wasn't just at the roastery that I found Dear Green. Here it is in Fortitude in Edinburgh.
  • I also got some beans to take home with me... Here's a bag of Ethiopian & El Salvadorian.
  • The El Salvadorian went really through my cafetiere first thing in the morning.
  • I also had some Kenya, here putting my Aeropress through its paces...
  • There is no escape! David Robson at Sharps gave me this bag of Nicaraguan.
  • ... while also went well through my cafetiere.
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Dear Green’s right in the heart of Glasgow, in a small unit just north of the Clyde and minutes away from the main stations. A few steps to the east is Glasgow Green, for many centuries the city’s only green public space. Although Lisa caught the coffee bug when she was working in Australia, packing coffee for a then little-known operation which went on to become Toby’s Estate, she’s a Glasgow girl and Glasgow runs through the heart of Dear Green and everything it does. Dear Green’s name is a play on Glasgow, which means “Dear Green Place” in Gaelic, while the Goosedubbs blend is named after Goosedubbs Lane, just around the corner from the roastery.

Lisa’s a great ambassador for speciality coffee in Glasgow and beyond. During my visit for Caffeine Magazine, I was indebted to Lisa, who took time out of her busy schedule to ferry me around various Glasgow coffee shops, introducing me to several places that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought to try. Throughout my two-day visit, it was clear that Lisa (and Dear Green) are held in very high regard in Glasgow. I was also struck by her boundless energy and enthusiasm for speciality coffee. In that respect, she could be said to be Glasgow’s equivalent of the subject of last week’s Saturday Supplement, Edy Piro.

I don’t think that Dear Green has a mission statement, but if it did, it might well focus on bringing speciality coffee to the non-specialist market. This is something I’ve seen in quite a few speciality roasters, a desire not just to supply the best speciality coffee shops, who show your beans off to their fullest potential, but to supply the next tier down. Here you find cafes, bars and restaurants where you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find great quality coffee, but why shouldn’t they have great coffee too?

Dear Green supplies some of the best Coffee Shops in Glasgow, including the likes of Riverhill Coffee Bar and Laboratorio Espresso. However, what impressed me was all the non-speciality places that Dear Green supplies, which Lisa kept pointing out as she drove me around. A great example is the fantastic Veldt Deli, which Dear Green supplies with its own bespoke African espresso blend.

Of course, it’s more than just supplying the beans: Dear Green’s commitment goes beyond that. There’s training, of course, plus equipment supply (Dear Green is partnered with La Marzocco). Naturally enough, this is an on-going commitment: there’s little point in training the staff when you first start supplying the beans or install a machine, forgetting about them after that. I was struck by the commitment of Lisa and her staff to get out of the roastery on a regular basis to meet with their customers. As with most businesses, it’s the personal relationships that really count.

Talking of which brings me to another of Lisa’s passions: ethical sourcing. Lisa makes regular sourcing trips to various coffee growing-regions to forge direct relationships with the small farms supplying Dear Green’s coffee. On her latest trip to Guatemala, she brought back some coffee cherry jam from Finca Filadelphia in Antigua which we had on some (Coffee Spot) scones. I had no idea you could make jam from coffee cherries (otherwise a waste product) but you can and it’s delicious!

5 AIRDS LANE • GLASGOW • G1 5HU +44 (0) 7581 114610
Monday By Appointment Seating N/A
Tuesday By Appointment Food N/A
Wednesday By Appointment Service N/A
Thursday By Appointment Cards N/A
Friday By Appointment Wifi N/A
Saturday CLOSED Power N/A
Sunday CLOSED Mobile N/A
Chain No Visits 25th April 2014

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

If you’d like to know more about Lisa, the founder of Dear Green, then try this interview, part of an awesome series by Scotland Coffee Lovers on women in speciality coffee in Scotland. For more about Dear Green itself, there’s this article on Dear Green and the circular economy.

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