Avenue Coffee Roasting Co

Avenue Coffee's Diedrich roaster, with a batch of freshly-roasted beans in the cooling pan.Avenue Coffee grew out of the Avenue G café on Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End. The intention was for Avenue G to roast its own coffee and the second branch, on the Great Western Road, was designed with this in mind. More of a coffee shop than the original, the mezzanine level at the rear of the shop was set aside as the roastery and Tom, then head roaster, oversaw the procurement and installation of the Diedrich roaster.

However, Tom left and the roasting duties were shared by Katelyn and Todd, who have now been joined by Colin, who they are training up as a roaster in his own right. These days, Avenue Coffee roasts around 100 kg a week, of which between 40-60 kg is for its own use (one-third at Great Western Road, two-thirds at Avenue G) with the remainder going to the likes of Glasgow’s Spitfire Espresso and Rialto in Eyemouth. Output includes espresso blends (for example, Spitfire has its own bespoke espresso blend) and single-origins, a cracking decaf (which I’ve enjoyed at home) and several seasonal single-origins roasted for filter. These are all available to buy in the two Avenue stores as well as on-line.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Avenue Coffee on Glasgow's Great Western Road: two for the price of one.
  • That law banning parking in front of coffee shops? I guess it's suspended when it's your van!
  • Downstairs, Avenue Coffee is a lovely coffee shop in its own right.
  • Meanwhile, right at the back, on the mezzanine level, is the other part of Avenue Coffee...
  • ... the Avenue Coffee Roastery, which is surprisingly big!
  • At the end nearest the stairs is the roaster, seen here in April 2014, just after installation...
  • ... and seen here in October 2015, when production was in full swing.
  • At the other end of the roastery is a small lab/training area.
  • The roaster affords a great view of the cafe below.
  • The sacks of green beans are stored at the bottom of the stairs...
  • ... until one is ready to be roasted, when it's hauled up the stairs, a rather manual process!
  • This is Colin, who was in charge of the roaster while I was talking with Head Roaster, Katelyn.
  • He was busy roasting some small batches while I was there.
  • This load had just come out of the roaster and into the cooling pan...
  • ... and, before long, it was out of the pan and into one of the storage bins.
  • Avenue Coffee's output is all available at the cafe, chalked up on the board outside...
  • ... and bagged up ready for sale inside. If you can't get to Glasgow, it's also available online.
Avenue Coffee on Glasgow's Great Western Road: two for the price of one.1 That law banning parking in front of coffee shops? I guess it's suspended when it's your van!2 Downstairs, Avenue Coffee is a lovely coffee shop in its own right.3 Meanwhile, right at the back, on the mezzanine level, is the other part of Avenue Coffee...4 ... the Avenue Coffee Roastery, which is surprisingly big!5 At the end nearest the stairs is the roaster, seen here in April 2014, just after installation...6 ... and seen here in October 2015, when production was in full swing.7 At the other end of the roastery is a small lab/training area.8 The roaster affords a great view of the cafe below.9 The sacks of green beans are stored at the bottom of the stairs...10 ... until one is ready to be roasted, when it's hauled up the stairs, a rather manual process!11 This is Colin, who was in charge of the roaster while I was talking with Head Roaster, Katelyn.12 He was busy roasting some small batches while I was there.13 This load had just come out of the roaster and into the cooling pan...14 ... and, before long, it was out of the pan and into one of the storage bins.15 Avenue Coffee's output is all available at the cafe, chalked up on the board outside...16 ... and bagged up ready for sale inside. If you can't get to Glasgow, it's also available online.17
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As often as not, the story of a roastery is the story of a person or people. In this case, Avenue Coffee’s fate has very much been intertwined with that of Katelyn, who is now head roaster. However, when I first met her in April 2014, she had not long since arrived in the country from her native Vancouver and was plying her trade as a barista (and a very good one at that). When Tom left after setting up the roastery, it very much threw Katelyn and Todd in at the deep end, particularly when Avenue Coffee, investing in potential rather than experience, offered the position of head roaster to Katelyn, who was then just 21 years old.

Together, Todd and Katelyn learnt to roast, something they freely admit to being a very steep learning curve! When they started, in mid-2014, Katelyn would ship samples to roaster friends in Vancouver, who would provide her with feedback. This helped kick-start the process, but Katelyn is the first to admit that she and Todd are still evolving as roasters and that feedback still plays a vital role.

For example, they regularly compare what they roast with other roasters and also cooperate with other roasters who have similar outlooks/approaches. Feedback from the Avenue G and Great Western Road baristas is similarly vital, both in developing the roasts and in keeping them on the straight and narrow. For example, if a particular batch isn’t quite extracting correctly or the taste profile’s not quite right, Katelyn soon hears about it from the staff on the floor below!

The baristas are also involved in the cupping process, where green beans are assessed/selected and sample roasts developed. Cuppings are held twice a week, with all the baristas involved. It’s only personal observation, but I think that this feedback loop, involving baristas who are working with the coffee every day, is vital in the development of any roastery.

18 months on, Todd (who is responsible for design of Avenue Coffee’s packaging) manages the roastery, while Katelyn is Head Roaster. Things have gone so well that Avenue Coffee has taken on a minion (err, I mean, trainee roaster), Colin, who can provide cover for Katelyn and Todd.

Of course, the proof of the coffee’s in the drinking. While at the Glasgow Coffee Festival I’d tried a flat white made with Avenue Coffee’s Skyscraper Espresso, a single-origin Colombian (with a nod in the name and packaging to Katelyn’s home town of Vancouver). I’d been impressed by its smoothness and balance, so was keen to try it as a straight espresso at the roastery. This left me even more impressed, the smoothness and balance joined by a sweetness that had been a little lost in milk.

I’ve also been impressed by Avenue Coffee’s decaf, so I tried the Brazilian Santa Lucia as a flat white, another smooth, well-balanced coffee. I’ve since been enjoying it at home through my Aeropress and have found it equally good. Finally, I tried Avenue Coffee’s Ethiopian Rocko Mountain as a V60. This was another seriously impressive coffee, bright and fruity, but still very smooth, and probably the best of the lot! In fact, it was so good that it got Avenue Coffee a runners-up place in the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Best Filter Coffee.

321 GREAT WESTERN ROAD • GLASGOW • G4 9HR
http://avenue.coffee +44 (0) 141 339 1334
Monday 08:30 – 17:00 Roaster Avenue Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:00 Service Table
Friday 08:30 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 19th October 2015

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