Filament Coffee

A cup of filter coffee, seen from above, next to a handleless jug, on a white, round table at Filament Coffee.Filament Coffee is another of the new places that have opened in Edinburgh in 2015 (May, to be precise). Originally a pop-up that appeared on Victoria Street in 2014, it has now found a permanent home on Clerk Street, not far from Cult Espresso, helping the slow spread of speciality coffee southwards from the city centre.

Housed in an old fishmongers, Filament is long and thin, with an eclectic range of benches and tables along both walls. The focus is firmly on the coffee, where there are various single-origins from an interesting cast of roasters (during my visit, an El Salvador from Has Bean, with a Guatemalan from Square Mile and an Ethiopian from new roasters, Obadiah, on filter).

If it’s food you’re after, Filament has a selection of cake and a very comprehensive bagel menu, perhaps one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen. Like toast, you can’t really go wrong with a good bagel.

And finally, with a name like Filament, you’re really holding yourself hostage to fortune unless you have some seriously good light bulbs on display. Fortunately, Filament does not disappoint! Coffee Spot Calendar anyone? Although this year’s is already at the printers, so can’t feature Filament…

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Artisan Roast, Stockbridge

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Artisan Roast in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.One of my early posts on the Coffee Spot was Edinburgh’s Artisan Roast (the original on Broughton Street). It therefore seems only fitting that my 500th post (depending on exactly how you count them) should be the latest Artisan Roast. This one opened in March this year on the north side of Raeburn Place in Stockbridge, in Edinburgh’s New Town. It was, in some ways, unplanned: I was told that when the space came up, sharing with a florists (The White Petal Company) which no longer needed all the space, it was too good an opportunity to miss. Thus the fourth Artisan Roast was born.

Artisan Roast has a habit of occupying interesting spaces. Of the three Edinburgh Artisan Roasts, it’s easily the biggest, second only to Glasgow’s Gibson Street. However, that’s not hard since both the original, and the second in Bruntsfield, are very much on the small side.  However, it shares a common feature with both those in that it has a cosy back room.

In keeping with all four stores, the coffee’s all from Artisan Roast, with multiple options on filter, plus the house-blend on espresso. There’s also a decent selection of cake and soup/sandwiches for lunch.

July 2016: I’ve learnt that the florists is no more, but the good news is that Artisan Roast is still going strong!

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Dovecot Café by Stag Espresso

A flat white in a classic white cup seen from directly above with a multi-leaf fern motif in the latte art.Dovecot Café, by Stag Espresso, is the in-house café of the Dovecot Contemporary Art Gallery and Tapestry Studio on Edinburgh’s Infirmary Street. It’s been around since 2011, making it an established player Edinburgh’s speciality coffee scene. Despite this, it seems to go under the radar, although I’ve heard consistently good things about it and its occasional pop-ups.

Like 6/8 Kafé’s latest venture inside Birmingham’s Millennium Point, this is speciality coffee in a mainstream setting and, as such, can only be applauded. If only all galleries/museums served coffee to this high standard. Oh well, we can dream.

Stag Espresso uses Lancaster’s J Atkinson & Co., which, as far as I know, is the only place in Edinburgh where you can get it. There’s no pour-over, just a solid espresso-based menu using Atkinson’s Archetype espresso blend, backed up with a wide range of loose-leaf tea from Edinburgh’s Anteaques, a good range of soft drinks and an outstanding cake selection.

Judging by the crowd that was there during my visit (hardly a table was unoccupied), it also does a roaring lunchtime trade, offering sandwiches and soup as the mainstays. Best of all, there’s that rarest of things in speciality coffee, full table service.

December 2015: Richard, of Stag Espresso, has sold up and moved on, with new ownership (Leo’s Beanery) taking over the cafe in the new year…

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The Milkman

The logo of the Milkman, on Edinburgh's Cockburn Street, a silhouette o the owner's grandfather, seen side-on, wearing a flat cap and smoking a pipe. It was taken from a photograph taken in 1938 at the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow.It is traditional that, when visiting Edinburgh, I pop into a just opened coffee shop. The trend started last year with Fortitude and continued with Cult Espresso. It’s therefore only fitting that Gary, from Cult Espresso, who I ran into at this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, was the one to put me onto The Milkman, the latest addition to Edinburgh’s thriving speciality coffee scene.

Conveniently located at the bottom of Cockburn Street, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the southern entrance to Edinburgh’s Waverley station, I popped in the following Monday, just a week after The Milkman had opened. It’s a tiny spot, having taken over from an old sweetshop which had the premises before it. Triangular in shape, it makes good use of the natural stone walls and amazing tiled floor to present a very pleasing interior.

The coffee is from Glasgow’s Dear Green, making it one of a handful of places in Edinburgh to use a Glaswegian roaster (and, arguably, the only speciality coffee shop to do so). Currently, there’s only espresso, but there are plans for a brew-bar in due course. Food is also initially limited to an impressive range of cake and toast/muesli for breakfast.

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Made by Knock: Hausgrind and Feldgrind

Two sets of wooden cylinders for Knock's feldgrind hand-grinders.I first came across Made by Knock (technically the company is Knock, but goes by “Made By Knock” on the web) and its fabulous hand-grinders at last year’s London Coffee Festival. Several people told me about these wonderful wooden grinders that I had to see. So, on the final day of the festival, I made my way to Knock’s stand and spent a happy hour with Peter, Knock’s co-owner, playing with the grinder, the hausgrind, and watching various demonstrations. From my enthusiastic write-up, you could tell that I had already fallen in love with the hausgrind.

My next encounter came later that year at Cup North, where I ran into Peter and Knock on the Dear Green Coffee stand. Here I discovered that Knock had a smaller, lighter (and cheaper) version of the hausgrind, the feldgrind. I fear that in a moment of madness, I may have agreed to buy one.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was on a train to Edinburgh and, before long, was making my way down to Portobello, the home of Knock, where I had an appointment with Peter and, unknown to me, a very endearing little chap called Woody…

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Cult Espresso

Thumbnail - Cult Espresso (DSC_6406)Continuing my theme of visiting Edinburgh and calling in on a coffee shop shortly after it opened, I present Cult Espresso. Unlike my previous victim, Fortitude, which opened four weeks prior to my visit, Cult Espresso opened on Monday and I was there on Thursday! I was already aware of Cult Espresso from social media, and when I heard on twitter that it had opened, I pencilled it in as a must-visit on my first day.

Run by father-and-son team, Kevin & Gary, Cult Espresso is, I think, the first to bring coffee from Bath’s Round Hill Roastery to Edinburgh on a permanent basis. Before setting up Cult, Gary ran a coffee kiosk on Dalmeny station. Originally using Lavazza coffee, it wasn’t long before Gary progressed to Round Hill, so was natural to continue the relationship when Cult opened.

I’ve been to several coffee shops that are corridor-like in layout (Goodge St Espresso and, in particular, NYC’s Gasoline Alley spring to mind). However, Cult takes this one step further by seeming to actually be built inside the corridor between two tenement buildings! While this sounds an unpromising set-up, it results in a lovely space, full of multiple, intimate little areas.

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Printworks Coffee

Thumbnail - Printworks Coffee (DSC_5770)Printworks Coffee on Leith’s Constitution Street vies for my attention with the famous Mimi’s Bakehouse, itself just a couple of streets away. In terms of character, the two are miles apart, but you know a place has to be pretty decent to drag me away from my beloved Mimi’s!

In many ways, Printworks is the sort of neighbourhood café that you can find on any street in any town or city in the country. However, by serving Monmouth coffee (from London) and loose-leaf tea from Pekoe Tea (all the way from Edinburgh!) and by doing it well, Printworks proves that you don’t have to be a speciality coffee (tea) shop to serve decent coffee (tea). It also goes to show that there’s no good reason why this sort of friendly, neighbour café can’t do decent tea and coffee, although judging by the numbers, far too many fail.

Printworks has great food too, using local, independent suppliers. There is a limited, but excellent, breakfast menu, served until 11.30 (it includes porridge and a scrambled egg breakfast bap, so I’m happy) plus a wide-ranging lunch menu from noon onwards. At weekends there’s a separate brunch-menu until three. Plus cake, of course.

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Artisan Roast, Bruntsfield Place

Artisan Roast on Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh.Stepping into Edinburgh’s second branch of Artisan Roast, on Bruntsfield Place, there is a distinct sense of déjà vu. In look, feel and layout, it’s similar to the original on Broughton Street, right down to there being a back room called “The Mooch”.

Bruntsfield Place, which started life in 2011 as a Festival pop-up, is similar in size to Broughton Street, perhaps a little narrower and a little longer. Here the espresso machine is in the back right-hand corner rather than the back left-hand corner, and the passage to The Mooch is similarly reversed, but other than that, the similarity is striking.

What you get, of course, is the same Artisan Roast excellence. Everything is roasted in-house, and all the beans are available to buy. However, Artisan Roast seems to be moving away from the “any bean, any method” model that I first came across at Broughton Street. At Bruntsfield Place, specific beans are tailored to specific methods; during my visit, a Kenyan was on offer through the Kalita Wave filter, a Brazilian through the Aeropress.

Naturally there’s the traditional espresso-based menu, along with tea, hot chocolate and the usual range of cake, plus soup for lunch.

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Machina Espresso

The window Edinburgh's Machina Espresso, showing off some of the wares, including cups, grinders and espresso machines.Machina Espresso might just be the perfect coffee shop. Set a little back on a wide pavement on Brougham Place in Edinburgh’s west end, it’s not a huge place, with just enough room for a few tables, a counter and multiple displays for coffee equipment. However, there’s an atmosphere about the place that just feels right, a certain calm that even an intransigent toddler (who was swiftly taken home by an indignant parent) couldn’t ruin.

Machina Espresso started life in Lock-up Coffee, a city-centre, weekend pop-up run by Ben Wylie, a barista at the late, much lamented Freemans Coffee. Back then, Machina Espresso was just an equipment supplier, but in November last year it moved into its current premises to become a fully-fledged coffee shop. The equipment is still here: (very) shiny espresso machines from Rocket and Expobar; compact grinders, great cups, tampers, pouring kettles… Everything, in fact, that you need to make great coffee at home.

However, if you can’t wait, Machina Espresso will happily serve you coffee (and cake). During my visit, the espresso was from nearby Steampunk Coffee and London’s Nude Espresso, with three single-origins on filter (all made through the Chemex). Spoilt for choice!

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Brew Lab: Update

The (initially) bewildering coffee menu at Brew Lab. It all seems so simple now...Continuing from last week’s update on Wild & Wood Coffee, I present another of my Wednesday/ Saturday Supplement Updates, this time from my recent trip to Edinburgh. I first visited Brew Lab during my Coffee Spot tour of Edinburgh in December 2012. Back then, Brew Lab had just opened and it had a real impact on me. With its emphasis on filter coffee and various brew methods, each chosen for a specific bean, I felt the sort of sense of confusion when looking at the menu that someone who wants a “white coffee” must experience in a modern coffee shop…

When I returned at the end of April, a mere 16 months later, I was keen to see what had, and hadn’t, changed at Brew Lab. Well, the answer, much as it had been with Wild & Wood, was “very little”. The Slayer was still there, looking very sexy on the counter (although it’s since been replaced by a Black Eagle), Brew Lab was as busy as ever, and the interior still looked as if the decorators had downed tools and walked off mid-job…

However, there have been a couple of significant changes and one of them is quite important…

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