Glasgow Coffee Festival 2015 Part II

The poster for the 2015 Glasgow Coffee FestivalLast week, I brought you Part I of my round-up of this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival. Although the Glasgow Coffee Festival by name (it’s held in Glasgow, after all), it’s more a celebration of Scotland’s growing specialty coffee scene, with plenty of contributions from further afield. It’s a lovely, one-day festival, held this year on 17th October. Small, laidback and friendly, there was plenty of time to talk and socialise, an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

In the imaginatively entitled Part I, I talked about the venue itself, the magnificent Briggait, looked at the vintage espresso machines and up-to-date hand-grinders that were on display, ran through all the coffee that I drank and reported back on my attempts to pull a shot on a Slayer.

In the even more imaginatively entitled Part II, I’ll run through all the Scottish roasters that I met, round up all the other roasters that I chatted to, and round-up everything else I found at the festival. However, before that, let me introduce you to Wil Freeborn…

You can see meet Wil after the gallery.

  • Wil Freeborn's stall, in the centre, as seen from above, next to the Knock stall.
  • Wil was using it to display some of his prints...
  • ... seen here in more detail. The ones on the left are from last year's calendar.
  • There were more on the right-hand wall...
  • ... while on the back wall, hand-illustrated takeaway coffee cups.
  • Wil was selling prints of his work, as well as these interesting mugs.
  • However, to tempt you in, he was also selling chocolate infused with Steampunk coffee...
  • ... and cake. He's a very clever man, you know.
  • As a special treat, I got to see inside Wil's sketch book! I feel very honoured.
  • While we're on the subject of art, I also popped down to the Meadow Road stall.
  • Although there was coffee & cake, it was these amazing cups that caught my eye.
  • They're worth a second look, don't you think?
  • They're by the talented John Maguire. I was sorely tempted to buy one... or two!
  • Before we go, say hello to All The Young Nudes, who held some life-drawing sessions...
Wil Freeborn's stall, in the centre, as seen from above, next to the Knock stall.1 Wil was using it to display some of his prints...2 ... seen here in more detail. The ones on the left are from last year's calendar.3 There were more on the right-hand wall...4 ... while on the back wall, hand-illustrated takeaway coffee cups.5 Wil was selling prints of his work, as well as these interesting mugs.6 However, to tempt you in, he was also selling chocolate infused with Steampunk coffee...7 ... and cake. He's a very clever man, you know.8 As a special treat, I got to see inside Wil's sketch book! I feel very honoured.9 While we're on the subject of art, I also popped down to the Meadow Road stall.10 Although there was coffee & cake, it was these amazing cups that caught my eye.11 They're worth a second look, don't you think?12 They're by the talented John Maguire. I was sorely tempted to buy one... or two!13 Before we go, say hello to All The Young Nudes, who held some life-drawing sessions...14
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Wil Freeborn is a very talented artist who, last year, produced a calendar featuring drawings of some of my favourite speciality coffee shops in Edinburgh and Glasgow. We’d not met, but I’d bought Wil’s calendar last year and was following him on social media, so when the opportunity arose to meet him, I jumped at it.

Wil was exhibiting prints of his drawings, plus some amazing hand-illustrated coffee cups, each one themed on a particular speciality coffee shop. The pictures in the gallery don’t do them justice: they really do have to be seen to be believed. Sadly Wil’s not producing another calendar this year; he’d been doing the research and preliminary sketches, but ran out of time. Instead, I believe that he’s reprinting last year’s calendar (check his web site) and a new calendar should be out this time next year.

Wil wasn’t the only artist at the festival. I popped down to the Meadow Road Coffee stall, where I found some amazing cups from John Maguire. These came in an interesting range of sizes, all in a striking black-and-white design, but in irregular shapes; some with bulging handles, others with wavy rims. I was very tempted to buy one or two, but wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get them back home with me.

Finally, in the artist category, a group called All The Young Nudes was there, running drop-in life-drawing sessions. I can’t draw for toffee (although I’m told this is not necessarily an impediment), and managed to completely miss the sessions anyway. If you want to try them out, All The Young Nudes run regular weekly sessions in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and now London. See the website for details.

Coming back to Wil, as a special treat, Wil let me have a peek inside his sketch book, which is full of pictures of cafés and roasters from across Scotland. We talked about how the speciality coffee scene has taken off across Scotland, with coffee shops and roasters popping up in the most unlikely places. If I can, next year I’m going to do a tour of Scotland and see if I can’t track them all down. In the meantime, quite a few of them had come to me instead.

You can see who I met after the gallery.

  • Let's start our round-up of Scottish Roasters with this one, Luckie beans...
  • ... all the way from... Berwick-upon-Tweed. In England. Oops.
  • In my defence, Jamie McLuckie (the roaster) is Scottish. And he's got a syphon! How exciting! (First rule of blogging: if in doubt, distract the readers with shiny bits of kit.)
  • A quick lesson in using the syphon: step one, as always, grind your beans.
  • The syphon comes in two parts: this bowl, which holds the water & is heated...
  • ... and this glass bit at the top. Step two: add the ground beans to top of syphon.
  • A vacuum is formed, which draws the heated water into the top chamber. Give it a quick stir.
  • Then leave to brew.
  • Almost done. Sadly this was for another visitor, so I can't tell you how it tasted!
  • Next, Oven Bird, from Stirling, definitely in Scotland (never mind that the roaster's Italian!).
  • Oven Bird had brought along the cutest sample roaster I've ever seen...
  • ... and some green beans from Rwanda. I was so tempted to buy some.
  • Talking of cute, how about this for a neat, one-group espresso machine?
  • Having missed out at Luckie Beans, it's time to have some coffee.
  • Raising a glass (Keep Cup) to the roaster. Your good health, sir.
  • Next up, this amazing stall, which caught the eye as I came in (so I left it until almost last!).
  • It's Glen Lyon, from Glen Lyon. In the Highlands. Scotland. With a Scottish roaster. I win!
  • Amongst the neat things on the stand, Glen Lyon had this fold-up coffee filter. Nice.
  • But what of the coffee?
  • The Red Stag Espresso, Glen Lyon's house-espresso blend, plus a mystery guest...
  • ... which is none other than the single-origin from Vietnam. Don't see much of that!
  • Mirror, mirror on the espresso machine, who's the best coffee of all?
  • I also popped into see Roundsquare, from Ayrshire...
  • ... but skipped Edinburgh's Artisan Roast (as I was going to see them on Tuesday).
  • Finally, let's not forget Glasgow's Dear Green, who organised the whole festival.
  • Dear Green were also moving into new premises at the same time. With a new roaster.
  • No, not this one. This was used for the roasting championships. Which I missed completely.
  • I'm talking about this roaster here, which should be swinging into production roasting soon.
  • Can't visit a roastery with taking a picture of sacks of green beans. It's the law!
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First of all, I popped along to see Luckie Beans, from Berwick-upon-Tweed. In England. Well, that’s a good start for my round-up of Scottish roasters… In my defence, it’s almost England and the roaster himself, Jamie McLuckie (any idea where the name came from yet?), is most definitely Scottish. Luckie Beans are relatively new, having only started roasting this year. There’s a house-blend, Love Lane, which is a little darker, with a touch of robusta, aimed squarely at the more mainstream market, and a small range of single-origin beans.

Luckie Beans, quite inventively, hadn’t brought an espresso machine, and instead was brewing up the coffee using a syphon. I didn’t get to try any at the festival, but I do have a bag of the Love Lane blend at home which I’ve been putting through my cafetiere first thing in the morning. Sadly I’m not getting on with the robusta and am looking forward to seeing how it will go through my espresso machine, where I suspect it will fare much better.

Next I called in to see Ovenbird, from Stirling, which is definitely in Scotland. Ovenbird had brought along a little half kilo sample roasters and was roasting (and selling) Rwandan green beans on the stall. Ovenbird has been going a little while now and has a strong on-line presence, including various blends, single-origins and tasting packs, plus subscriptions. Since it was being roasted there and then, I had to try some of the Rwandan (which, just in case anyone jumps to any conclusions, had been roasted the week before), which I had as an espresso. Although I enjoyed it, I found it a little too bright for me.

Next, flying the flag for the Highlands, came Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters, who had one of the most striking and prominent stands in the whole festival, so naturally I visited it towards the end of the day. I’ve been aware of Glen Lyon for a few years, having had (and enjoyed) some of its Red Stag espresso blend a couple of years ago. Based in Aberfeldy, Glen Lyon had some strong links to origin and I went to a talk (the only one I made it to) about a trip to Rwanda to meet some coffee farmers there.

Glen Lyon had some interesting single-origin coffee on the stand, including a micro-lot from Vietnam, which, in hindsight, I wish I’d tried. However, given the Rwandan talk, I went instead for the West Coast Roast, which highlights coffee from a specific origin, in this case a Rwandan Buf Nyarusiza. However, as with Ovenbird’s offering, I found it a little too bright for me

Next to Glen Lyon was Round Square Roastery from Ayrshire, another relative newcomer, who I popped in to see right at the end of the day, when I was all coffee-ed out. Round Square is another example of the spread of speciality coffee in Scotland and I’m hoping I’ll be able to call in and see them next time I’m in Scotland.

Finally, let’s not forget Dear Green Coffee, who organised the whole things and who were tucked away at the back of the festival. Since I was on a mission to meet new roasters, I didn’t get time to go and say anything but the briefest of hellos. However, I did pop by to the magnificent new roastery which Dear Green was in the process of moving into, where the after-festival party was being held. It’s an amazing space and, having heard about all the plans for it, I’m looking forward to coming back when it’s finished!

Next is a round-up of all the English roasters I met, which you can read after the gallery.

  • Look! Two of my favourite stalls at any coffee festival, side-by-side!
  • To the left, Kokoa Collection, purveyors of fine, single-origin hot chocolate.
  • I had to wait a long time for the extremely quiet moment that allowed me to get this shot!
  • Paul, who runs Kokoa Collection, has changed a lot since I last saw him...
  • ... and I do mean a lot!
  • Mystery solved: the staff from Carvetii next door were helping out as Paul couldn't make it.
  • Here they are, doing their own jobs as well! I spent a while at the Carvetii stall...
  • ... talking coffee & using this, the most important thing at a coffee festival: a tap!
  • The only stall that was more popular was this one: the Foundry/It All Started Here stall.
  • The coffee is from Foundry, in Sheffield.
  • There were lots of Keep Cups too.
  • Coffee expertise was provided by Will (left, It All Started Here) & Callum (right, Foundry).
  • Stumpy, a cut down EK-43 belonging (I think) to Will.
  • You get a good view from up on the balcony. That's Lee, from Foundry, on the left.
  • Let's make some coffee! Will flushes the group-head.
  • Portafilters in place...
  • Let's go! Will pulls down on the handle in order to create the full 9-bars of pressure.
  • Quite a lot of pulling is involved. No wonder he's got such big muscles!
  • Almost done...
  • As if by magic, the lever slowly returns upright (it's springs, actually, but I prefer magic).
  • As it rises, it forces water at pressure through the grounds and, hey presto, extraction!
  • Not that you see much of the extraction from up there. Let's get down to ground level.
  • Time for another extraction: it takes about five seconds to pull the lever all the way down.
  • Once released, the lever rises quite quickly, although it takes more than five seconds.
  • It extracts as it rises: the stream is a bit spluttery at first...
  • Soon it turns into several broken streams...
  • ... then coalesces into one.
  • It appears that the coffee's extracting into the cup's reflection. In fact, Will's moved it.
  • The last drop. We don't want the last dregs of the extraction: it will be too bitter.
  • My last coffee of the day, pulled by Lee. Plus a glass of water...
  • ... because Carvetii wasn't the only one with a tap. Look at all that plumbing!
  • Talking of lever espresso machines, over to J Atkinson & Co to drool over the Faema E61!
  • J Atkinson & Co's Archetype blend, which I got to try at Dovecot later on in the week.
  • At the festival itself, I was just content to watch another lever machine in action.
  • There was milk-steaming too!
  • Late on in the day, I paid a visit to Back to Black.
  • So that's what Back to Black does. I'd been wondering...
  • I'd completely forgotten that Back to Black was serving Five Elephant coffee as a V60.
  • I was too caffeinated to try any. However, I love the spectacle of pour-over...
  • ... although, for espresso-heads, check out the EK-43 and one-group La Marzocco.
  • Back to Black also had cascara: I had a sample of mulled cherry cascara. Very fine indeed.
  • However, this is what actually drew me to the stand: all cakes, £1. Music to my ears!
  • What a selection! A coffee blogger cannot live by coffee alone, you know.
  • This walnut & chocolate brownie is exactly what I needed to get me to the end of the day.
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I always love catching up with Cumbria’s Carvetii and, as an added bonus, my favourite purveyors of single-origin hot chocolate, Kokoa Collection, was on the next door stand, only Paul, from Kokoa Collection, wasn’t actually there. Instead, the guys from Carvetii were looking after the stall on his behalf. What better combination, hot chocolate and coffee?

Gareth & Angharad, who run Carvetii, are always good value. I had a long talk with Gareth about the challenges of running a speciality coffee roastery in what is not, at first sight, prime third-wave coffee territory. Carvetii has been going for five years now and it’s been a long, slow process of steadily building the market, supporting and encouraging customers along the way. Carvetii also fly the flag at various local/regional markets and food fairs. Anyone looking to grow a speciality coffee market could do worse than spend half an hour with Gareth and Angharad.

The Carvetii stand, as well as having lots of coffee, had one of the most essential of elements at a coffee festival, a water tap. In fact, since I know Carvetii’s coffee fairly well, I didn’t actually have any, but I drink an awful lot of water. The other place with a water tap, and the most popular stand in the whole festival, was Sheffield’s Foundry Coffee Roasters, which had teamed up with local lad Will, of It All Started Here. If you’re ever in Glasgow and want some Foundry coffee, seek out It All Started Here at one of the weekend markets/pop-ups that Will frequents.

I didn’t get much change to talk to Lee and Callum from Foundry (or Will for that matter) since they were constantly busy, pulling shot after shot on Foundry’s lovely lever machine. I did however, round off my day with a shot of the Ethiopian Rocko mountain, which continued my knack of picking espresso that was far too bright for my palate!

Talking of lever machines, I made my usual pilgrimage to the J Atkinson & Co. stall to have a drool (err, I mean, look) at its Faema E61 and watch a few shots being pulled. I also briefly stuck my nose in at the Coopers stall at the end of the day to say hello. I’ll be catching up with both of them at Cup North.

Finally, here’s that round-up of all the other exhibitors at the festival that I promised you.

  • One of the most important things at a coffee festival is to ensure you eat properly...
  • ... so I had this excellent vegetarian wrap from Riverhill Outside.
  • Meadow Road was also doing food; I had a vegetarian sandwich from there. Ate it. No pic.
  • Talking of food... What am I doing up here, when the doughnuts are down there?
  • I got down just in time: doughnuts by Twelve Triangles on the Brew Lab stand.
  • Such a good doughnut: such a poor picture!
  • Talking of sweet things, McCune Smith had a range of goodies on sale...
  • .. as did Sugar Wings...
  • ... and Three Sisters bake.
  • Meanwhile the lovely people from Spitfire Espresso had a selection of cakes...
  • ... as well as a bespoke espresso blend, Gunnerbeans...
  • ... and some lovely cups.
  • Of the stands I didn't really visit, there is Coopers, who I said hello to...
  • ... and Conti/Caffeine Fix, where I didn't even get that far!!
  • This is Andy of Our Coffee Love, who gave me my first bag of coffee of the festival.
  • Talking of which, here is my full haul. I think I got off lightly!
One of the most important things at a coffee festival is to ensure you eat properly...1 ... so I had this excellent vegetarian wrap from Riverhill Outside.2 Meadow Road was also doing food; I had a vegetarian sandwich from there. Ate it. No pic.3 Talking of food... What am I doing up here, when the doughnuts are down there?4 I got down just in time: doughnuts by Twelve Triangles on the Brew Lab stand.5 Such a good doughnut: such a poor picture!6 Talking of sweet things, McCune Smith had a range of goodies on sale...7 .. as did Sugar Wings...8 ... and Three Sisters bake.9 Meanwhile the lovely people from Spitfire Espresso had a selection of cakes...10 ... as well as a bespoke espresso blend, Gunnerbeans...11 ... and some lovely cups.12 Of the stands I didn't really visit, there is Coopers, who I said hello to...13 ... and Conti/Caffeine Fix, where I didn't even get that far!!14 This is Andy of Our Coffee Love, who gave me my first bag of coffee of the festival.15 Talking of which, here is my full haul. I think I got off lightly!16
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One of the many good things about the Glasgow Coffee Festival is the quality, quantity and variety of food on offer, plus the abundance of places to sit and eat it. I ended up grabbing a couple of (savoury) things through the day; a wrap from Riverhill Outside, the outside catering arm of the lovely Riverhill Coffee Bar, and a sandwich from Meadow Road Coffee. However, there was plenty of other food on offer, including a decent selection from McCune Smith, who managed to sell out before I got to them (although I heard very good reports). Sweet things were also there in abundance: I had one of the last doughnuts from Edinburgh’s Twelve Triangles, being sold on the Brew Lab stand. There were also cakes and chocolates on sale at various stands, including Spitfire Espresso, Three Sisters Bake and Sugar Wings.

I did pretty well in getting around the stands. The only ones I really missed out on were Coopers from Huddersfield, who I knew I’d be catching up with at Cup North, and Caffeine Fix. Finally, thanks to everyone who gave me coffee: Coopers, Andy from Our Coffee Love, Carvetii/Foundry Coffee Roasters and Avenue Coffee.


The Glasgow Coffee Festival was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Best Saturday Supplement by the way.

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