Artisan Roast, Glasgow

A drawing on the wall of Artisan Roast's Gibson Street branch showing the location of the Toper Roaster, Fatima, which was removed in April 2013.Artisan Roast is a chain of three coffee shops, two in its home town of Edinburgh (Broughton Street and Bruntsfield Place) and this one, on Gibson Street in Glasgow’s West End. Compared to the other branches, it’s massive, although that’s not too much of an achievement, since both of Edinburgh’s Artisan Roasts are fairly compact. Nevertheless, the sense of space afforded by Gibson Street was refreshing.

Despite its size, it manages to have the same sense of intimacy, largely due to a clever partitioning of the store into multiple, smaller spaces, which includes a mezzanine. Generous windows, running from almost the floor to the (very high) ceiling, make the front of the store a very bright space, helped by a large mirror over the bench opposite the counter. This is in stark contrast to the back, where the lighting is (deliberately) subdued, adding to its sense of intimacy.

Until April 2013, Gibson Street roasted all its own coffee in a Toper called Fatima which sat at the far end of the counter. Then Artisan Roast centralised its roasting in Edinburgh, freeing up space for Gibson Street to do more food. It now has the best food offering of the three.

November 2015: Artisan Roast is now a chain of four, with a third Edinburgh shop opening in Stockbridge in March.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Artisan Roast on Glasgow's Gibson Street.
  • A panoramic view from inside the door.
  • A slightly different look, showing the mezzanine level at the back.
  • And a view of the downstairs counter area looking towards the front of the store.
  • There's plenty of seating to choose from, including this window bar...
  • ... or these high tables opposite the counter.
  • Some of the cosy seating options under the mezzanine.
  • There's a little bar by the stairs...
  • ... or this old door pressed into service as a table at the back.
  • I really liked the fireplace.
  • There's more cosy seating on the opposite side of the stairs.
  • Talking of which... the stairs to the mezanine...
  • ... and the mezzanine itself.
  • The view from the top of the stairs.
  • If you want to sit all by yourself, there's a table for one right at the back.
  • There's also seating to the left of the stairs...
  • ... and seating to the right.
  • I ended up on the left, right at the far end...
  • ... where there was an excellent view down onto the brew bar and counter area.
  • You could also sit further back if you like...
  • ... by this lovely stained-glass window.
  • There are lots of neat features, such as this old font pressed into use as a water fountain.
  • And this fabulous till which is one of the oldest I've seen!
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • So, to business. The menu is chalked above the counter.
  • The drinks side of the menu.
  • I would have liked something from the brew bar, but the grinder was broken.
  • Instead it was back to the espresso machine and its three grinders...
  • ... from left to right: decaf, single-origin or house blend (Janszoon).
  • There is also food...
  • Some of the baked goods.
  • The counter is a hive of activity...
  • ... even when seen through a mirror!
  • The result: my piccolo and banana & walnut cake. Both slightly out of focus...
  • My piccolo, in focus this time. Beautiful latte art in a small space.
  • My truly excellent banana and walnut cake, close-up and personal.
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Stepping inside Artisan Roast, it actually feels quite small, seemingly not much bigger than either Broughton Street or Bruntsfield Place. However, like them, it’s a space that encourages exploring. In place of the Mooches (the back rooms in the Edinburgh branches) Gibson Street has a mezzanine level, with the added advantage that this creates another intimate space beneath it. The stairs to the mezzanine are in the centre, further dividing upstairs and downstairs in two, which is particularly noticeable downstairs.

Outside on the pavement there are benches either side of the glass double-doors, mirrored inside by window-bars. To your right and ahead of you is a large, open-plan, L-shaped counter, effectively funnelling you to the centre of the store where you order your coffee. Opposite the counter is a wooden bench with a pair of high tables, while the right hand-end of the counter, opposite the window, has a row of stools.

The espresso machine, business-end facing the customers, is behind the counter to your right, while the bottom of the L, now to your left, holds a comprehensive brew-bar, complete with massed ranks of bags of coffee for sale. Venturing past the brew-bar, you find the rest of the seating. There’s an open area behind the brew bar, plus a small extension to the main counter which is the food preparation area. You can perch here on one of three stools if you like, watching either the food or the brew bar, whichever takes your fancy.

Beyond that you have a choice of the mezzanine or the intimate spaces below it on either side of the stairs. Downstairs has an eclectic range of tables of various sizes, with a selection of chairs and stools arranged in a vague horseshoe around the stairs. Upstairs, the layout is similar, with an equally eclectic (but different) set of tables and chairs, including padded benches and a sofa.

Regular readers will already know where I ended up. I liked all of the spaces, but nothing quite beats sitting at the front of the mezzanine, the rest of the coffee shop laid out below you. I started on a bench with a packing crate as a table, but I kept banging my knees on it, so I switched allegiance to the more conventional tables on the other side.

In keeping with the other two branches, wood features heavily throughout. All the furniture is wood, as is the counter, floorboards and stairs up to the mezzanine. This is coupled with the judicious use of coffee sacks for decoration.

Artisan Roast has a range of coffee beans for sale. I wanted to try one as a filter coffee (through V60, cafetiere, Aeropress or Chemex), but the grinder was playing up on the day I visited. Instead I had a piccolo with the guest espresso, a Sumatran single-origin. This went well with the milk (as the barista had suggested it would). It was quite a strong coffee, resulting in a slightly bitter, dry drink that I really enjoyed.

I paired it with a slice of banana and walnut cake that was truly excellent. The cake had a wonderful consistency, not too dense, but not too fluffy either, while the buttercream icing added just the right amount of sweetness which combined well with the walnuts and banana.

15-17 GIBSON STREET • GLASGOW • G12 8NU +44 (0) 7776 428409
Monday 08:00 – 19:30 Roaster Artisan Roast (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 19:30 Seating Benches, Sofas, Tables, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 19:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 19:30 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 19:30 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 18:30 Power Limited
Chain Regional Visits 24th 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 Artisan Roast, then try this interview with Maria Szeklicka, Artisan Roast’s Operations Manager, part of an awesome series by Scotland Coffee Lovers on women in speciality coffee in Scotland.

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