Glasgow Coffee Festival 2017 Preview

The Glasgow Coffee Festival LogoIt’s that time of year again. No sooner has one festival finished, than another looms on the horizon. And, in my case, as soon as I get back from Japan, I’ll be heading up to Glasgow for the third Glasgow Coffee Festival. Unfortunately, I had to miss the first festival, which was back in 2014, but I made it to the second festival, which took place in 2015. Sadly, it then skipped a year in 2016 in order to move from the distinctly chilly months of October/November to warmer (we hope) times in May (the weekend of 6th/7th).

Although called the Glasgow Coffee Festival (it’s held in Glasgow, after all), it’s more a celebration of Scotland’s growing specialty coffee scene, with lots of contributors from further afield as well. After the first two years, when it was sold out, the festival has expanded from a single day to occupy the entire weekend, from Saturday morning to Sunday evening, putting it on a par with the likes of the Manchester Coffee Festival, a festival which it closely resembles in scale and atmosphere (compared to, say, the London Coffee Festival).

So, without further ado, sit back and enjoy my Glasgow Coffee Festival preview.

You can see what’s going on after the gallery (which is finally up after Dell, with its next business day on-site service, repaired my laptop a mere three weeks after it broke).

  • The Briggait, home of the Glasgow Coffee Festival since it began in 2014.
  • The second Glasgow Coffee Festival was so popular that they were queueing to get in!
  • Another look at the wonderful structure that is the Briggait...
  • ... and the view from just inside the doors in 2015. Look at all that space!
  • That last view doesn't quite give you the sense of scale of the soaring roof though...
  • You can also get up to the balcony that runs all the way around the Briggait.
  • Here's the view from the other end. Again, what a wonderful sense of space.
  • Another view from the far end, showing the soaring heights of the Briggait's glass roof.
  • This gives you a good idea of the layout of the stalls: four clusters of eight stalls.
  • While the festival was busy (sold out, in fact, in 2015), it was never rammed, which was good.
  • A typical cluster of stalls, with plenty of space between them, making it easy to move around.
  • At the far end, there were tables where you could sit down and eat. A great idea!
The Briggait, home of the Glasgow Coffee Festival since it began in 2014.1 The second Glasgow Coffee Festival was so popular that they were queueing to get in!2 Another look at the wonderful structure that is the Briggait...3 ... and the view from just inside the doors in 2015. Look at all that space!4 That last view doesn't quite give you the sense of scale of the soaring roof though...5 You can also get up to the balcony that runs all the way around the Briggait.6 Here's the view from the other end. Again, what a wonderful sense of space.7 Another view from the far end, showing the soaring heights of the Briggait's glass roof.8 This gives you a good idea of the layout of the stalls: four clusters of eight stalls.9 While the festival was busy (sold out, in fact, in 2015), it was never rammed, which was good.10 A typical cluster of stalls, with plenty of space between them, making it easy to move around.11 At the far end, there were tables where you could sit down and eat. A great idea!12
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The Glasgow Coffee Festival is held in the Briggait, perhaps the most striking venue for a coffee festival (albeit a chilly one, which is why the festival has been moved from late autumn to spring). The Briggait was built as Glasgow’s fish market over 100 years ago, and consists of a single, soaring hall, with a vast, glass, arched ceiling, which gives the festival a great sense of space (something that’s lacking in other festivals). The festival is held on the floor of the main hall, but there’s a first-floor balcony that goes all the way around the building. Although there are no stands up there, you do get some great views of the festival floor.

The festival’s organisers (or curators in the modern jargon), Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee, have traditionally made very good use of the space. Rather than cram it full of stands, in 2015, they were arranged in four clusters, with eights stands per cluster, the clusters themselves laid out in a simple cross arrangement, with broad avenues between them and plenty of space around the sides. I’m used to the London Coffee Festival, with its low ceilings and closely-packed stands, so this was paradise in comparison.

There’s a limit on the numbers allowed into the hall, part of the reason that the festival has been sold out the first two times. This also means that while the festival feels busy, it never really feels that crowded. The result is a laid-back and friendly festival, with plenty of time to talk and socialise, and (for me at least) plenty of opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. Naturally, although I was there for the full eight hours of the 2015 festival, I still didn’t manage to get around all the stands. I also missed all bar one of the talks/workshops/masterclasses/cuppings. For that reason alone I’m glad it’s been extended to two days!

So, what’s actually going on? Well, there’ll be the usual collection of stands, covering coffee roasters, cafes, equipment and various related (and sometimes non-related) lifestyle brands. Check out my two-part report from the 2015 festival to get an idea of who was there. It’s worth noting that while this is billed as a celebration of Scottish coffee and coffee culture, there were others who ventured from further afield, including Carvetii (who came up from Cumbria), J Atkinson & Co. (from Lancaster) and Terrone, who’d made the trip all the way from London.

This year, as well as the usual selection of exhibitors, the Glasgow Coffee Festival will be hosting the final heat of the UK Barista Championship and the final of the UK Brewers Cup. I even hear rumours (now confirmed) of a cupping of Japanese coffee, although quite how the festival’s going to get its hands on samples of coffee from roasters all over Japan is quite beyond me. If only there was someone in the country who was coming back just before the festival…

All the festival’s 24 workshops, presentations and cuppings are included in the very reasonable ticket price of £14.50. It’s even better value if you go for the entire weekend, when a ticket will set you back just £22.50 (booking fees apply). So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets now!

I’ll see you there!

THE BRIGGAIT  • GLASGOW • G1 5HZ
http://glasgowcoffeefestival.com
Monday Roaster N/A
Tuesday Seating N/A
Wednesday Food N/A
Thursday Service N/A
Friday Cards N/A
Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Wifi N/A
Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 Power N/A
Chain N/A Visits 6th/7th May 2017

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