Brian's Coffee Spot

Devoted to Coffee


Skip straight to map. Skip straight to list.

The Coffee Spot Guide to Glasgow

The Tolbooth Steeple, a 17th century tower which sits at the heart of the Glasgow Cross, a junction of five roads in the heart of Glasgow.I have a confession to make. I spent three years (and a bit) doing a PhD in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s great rival. During that time, I really bought into the whole “Edinburgh’s Better Than Glasgow” nonsense. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to discover what a fantastic city Glasgow is and I still have a lot of exploring to do. From its handsome Victorian city centre architecture to the leafy, open spaces of the West End, Glasgow is a visual treat. It also has some world class museums such as the Kelvingrove Art Museum and Gallery.

Coffee-wise, Glasgow spent a long time under Edinburgh’s shadow, but in recent years its coffee scene has undergone something of an explosion, with great coffee shops and roasters popping up all over the place. My exploration so far has largely been confined to the centre and the West End, but the more I look, the more great places I find.

As with all these guides, this is not, and does not claim to be, comprehensive. Since my last visit to Glasgow at the end of 2014, lots of new places have sprung up and there’s quite a few I didn’t get around to last time I was up there. Expect another slew of places to appear in the weeks/months after I come back from this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival.

Header image: Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with Glasgow University in the background.

Coffee Spots

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.

Continue reading...

Champagne Central

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend that odd hour while you’re waiting for your train at Glasgow Central station, then look no further than Champagne Central (although it now has competition from the likes of Riverhill Coffee Bar). Part of the recently-renovated Grand Central Hotel, Champagne Central offers you a chance to surround yourself in opulence while you wait for your train. The coffee’s okay, but frankly, who cares when you are in such wonderful surroundings and overlooking the station concourse so you can keep an eye on the departures board? Not me, at least.

Champagne Central is more than just a posh waiting room though. It serves food, afternoon tea and has a fully-stocked bar, so any time you are looking for a touch of elegance, give Champagne Central a try. And don’t worry, you don’t have to sit overlooking the station concourse if you don’t want to!

Continue reading...

Dear Green Coffee

The Dear Green logo, taken from one of the bags of coffee.Today’s Saturday Supplement is another in the occasional Meet the Roaster series. Continuing with the Glasgow/Commonwealth Games theme, we’re at Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee, roasting high-quality coffee in the heart of the city since 2011. Dear Green roasts two main espresso blends, Goosedubbs and Treron (a seasonal blend), various bespoke blends and 16 single-origin beans. These are mostly for filter, which forms an ever-increasing percentage of Dear Green’s growing output.

I first discovered Dear Green Coffee when I visited the much-missed Razzo Coffee in Edinburgh. I met Dear Green’s founder and head roaster, Lisa Lawson, at the London Coffee Festival in 2013, when, against all the odds, she persuaded me to try her take on the traditional Italian caffè corretto. This was a single shot of the Treron blend, taken with a drop of whisky and honey. To my even greater surprise, I really liked it! Given that I can’t stand whisky and hate having sugar in my coffee, it’s high praise indeed!

I met up with Lisa again at this year’s London Coffee Festival, when we arranged for me to visit the Dear Green roastery as part of my trip to Glasgow on behalf of Caffeine Magazine.

November 2015: Dear Green has moved to a new, much larger roastery near the Barrowland Ballroom. Unfortunately I've not had time to check out the new roastery on my last two trips to Glasgow.

Continue reading...

East Coffee Company

A lovely flat white, made with a Colombian single-origin from The Good Coffee Cartel, and served in handless ceramic cup at Glasgow's East Coffee Company.Although I’ve visited Glasgow many times, I rarely venture east of the city centre, normally spending my time in the centre itself, in the West End and, starting last year, the south side. I’d heard about the appropriately-named East Coffee Company, which opened in January 2018, on my visit for that year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, but with my bad back, I’d not been able to get out there. However, on my return to the city in December, I made it a priority to head over to East for coffee and some lunch.

It’s a lovely little place, occupying a front and back room in a row of shops, with tenements above, a very typical set-up for Glasgow. Despite the small size, there’s plenty on offer, including a seasonal single-origin espresso from local roasters, The Good Coffee Cartel (a Colombian during my visit) with decaf from Dear Green Coffee. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s a daily batch-brew, featuring roasters from around the country. While I was there, it was the turn of Sacred Grounds from Arbroath, with a Black Honey processed El Salvador. East also offers a concise all-day breakfast/lunch menu, the food cooked in an open kitchen behind the counter.

Continue reading...

It All Started Here

A lovely Sweetshop espresso from Square Mile in a gorgeous Claire Henry Ceramics cup, served at Glasgow's It All Started Here.I first met Will, owner of It All Started Here, back in 2015 in Cardiff. We met up again at the Glasgow Coffee Festival later that year and have stayed in touch (on and off) ever since. Back then, Will combined a day job with running stalls markets/pop-ups over the weekends, serving coffee from Sheffield’s Foundry Coffee Roasters to the good people of Glasgow.

Last year he extended that principle when he opened his first coffee shop on Glasgow’s south side, It All Started Here opening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sadly, when I came up for last year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, I came up on the weekend and left myself Monday for exploring, so missed out. Therefore, for this year’s festival, I made a point of going up on Thursday night on the Caledonian Sleeper and heading over to It All Started Here on Friday.

It All Started Here is a multi-roaster, with a different roaster from around the UK on espresso and batch-brew every week. There’s also a brunch menu and a lovely selection of cakes. Even better, starting this week, It All Started here is now open six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday.

Continue reading...

Kaf Coffee

A Kalita Wave pour-over brewing at The Kaf in Glasgow.Along with Primal Roast, Kaf Coffee was top of people’s recommendations to visit when I was in Glasgow in May for the Glasgow Coffee Festival. A very recent addition to Glasgow’s growing speciality coffee scene, it only opened in March, which tells you something about the impact it’s made given how many people recommended it to me.

Kaf Coffee nicely fills in a gap as Glasgow’s speciality coffee scene extends to the west. It’s just off the Dumbarton Road, not far from the likes of Siempre Bicycle Café, and provides a useful stop if you’re determined to wander the length of Dumbarton Road to visit the western outpost that is Meadow Road Coffee.

Kaf Coffee is a true multi-roaster café with a commendably-concise coffee menu and several options on espresso and pour-over. It’s always a pleasure to find somewhere serving James Gourmet Coffee, which is a mainstay on espresso, with a couple of single-origins from various roasters via the Kalita Wave filter. For somewhere so small (you’d be lucky to get 10 people inside), Kaf Coffee has impressive breakfast and lunch menus, all made in the kitchen at the back. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a decent selection of cake too.

Continue reading...

Laboratorio Espresso

A lovely espresso in a classic red cup from Glasgow's Laboratorio EspressoSituated one block over from Glasgow’s Queen Street station, right in the heart of the city, Laboratorio Espresso brings a slice of Milanese espresso bar culture to Scotland. It’s a small place, although not quite as small as New York City’s legendary I Am Coffee. For example, there’s enough room for a choice of seating: window bar, tables in the corner, or stools at the end of the counter. There’s even three sets of tables/benches on the pavement outside.

One thing it does share with I Am Coffee (other than a passion for coffee), is its height. For such a small shop, it goes a long way up and is easily taller than it is deep. This, coupled with the front wall essentially being one large window, gives it an enormous sense of space out of all keeping with its actual size.

The coffee offering is also one you would associate with a large store. With a bespoke espresso blend from nearby Dear Green Coffee and guest roasters from all around the world, Laboratorio Espresso serves up quite a choice, with the option of stove-top espresso for breakfast in the mornings. There’s also a range of cake, soup and sandwiches.

October 2015: Laboratorio Espresso has changed its house-blend from Dear Green to Staffordshire's Has Bean, but still retains its commitment to bringing the best of Europe's roasters to Glasgow as its guest espressos.

Continue reading...

Luckie Beans, Glasgow Queen Street

Detail from the front of the Luckie Beans coffee cart on the concourse of Glasgow's Queen Street Station.When I ran into Jamie, owner of Luckie Beans, at the Glasgow Coffee Festival, I learnt all about the coffee cart which had opened, at rather short notice, the previous summer. Invited in by the management at Glasgow Queen Street Station, Jamie had all of two weeks to set everything up, including sourcing the cart and all the equipment.

The result is quite impressive and a welcome addition to the station. Although there are plenty of options nearby in Glasgow city centre, there’s nothing quite like having speciality coffee on the station concourse, especially if you’re waiting for a train.

The Luckie Beans cart serves a blend and single-origin on espresso, with the option to buy the beans. There are also various sweet treats and savoury offerings, including porridge and sandwiches. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a small seating area, perfect if you have a few minutes to spare.

Continue reading...

McCune Smith

The words McCUNE SMITH GLASGOW in black typeface on white.Once upon a time, speciality coffee in Glasgow was generally a West End thing, but in the last couple of years, that’s changed, with pioneers such as the Riverhill Coffee Bar, Laboratorio Espresso and today’s Coffee Spot, McCune Smith, moving into the city centre and its immediate surroundings.

A little way east of the centre of Glasgow, you’ll find McCune Smith at the top (west) end of Duke Street, right on the edge of the University of Strathclyde, in an area that feels like it might have the estate agent tag of “up-and-coming”. In the words of its owner, Dan, it’s a sandwich bar which caught the coffee bug, teaming up with Glasgow’s very own Dear Green Coffee to turn itself into a lovely little spot.

In keeping with many places in Glasgow, McCune Smith marries excellent coffee with a very strong food offering (not surprising, given its sandwich-bar origins). However, with a nod to Glasgow’s Enlightenment history, McCune Smith is named after Dr James McCune Smith, the black intellectual and abolitionist who became the first African American in the world to hold a medical degree when he graduated from Glasgow’s Old College in 1837.

Continue reading...

Meadow Road Coffee

The words "Meadow Road" written as is on a street sign, in black on a white background, while perched on top is a black and white line drawing of a bird with a coffee bean in its beak.Glasgow used to trail its neighbour (and great rival) Edinburgh in the speciality coffee stakes. However, in the last couple of years, Glasgow has been catching up fast through a new breed of coffee shops such as Meadow Road Coffee. Traditionally, speciality coffee in Glasgow has clustered around either the West End or, more recently, the City Centre, but Meadow Road bucks that trend, situated at the far end of the Dumbarton Road, which runs due west from the West End’s southwest corner.

Before purists such as myself cry foul, Meadow Road Coffee is indeed on Meadow Road, on the corner where it meets Dumbarton Road, giving the coffee shop windows on both sides. Although north facing, it catches the morning sun and is generally filled with a pleasing, subdued light. A small rectangle, Meadow Road has a simple layout, counter at the back, seating along the windows. A good deal of the interior is given over to a small but impressive kitchen which turns out an equally impressive range of food, vying with the coffee in terms of quality. The latter comes from local roasters, Dear Green Coffee, on both espresso and filter, the latter supplemented by regularly-rotating guests.

Continue reading...

Papercup Coffee Company

The trademark Papercup leaf from the sign hanging outside.Given my well-known aversion to all things paper when it comes to coffee cups, calling your coffee shop “Papercup” is not perhaps the best tactic to win me over… However, the only paper cups I saw were neatly stacked by the till, exclusively for takeaway customers, which was a relief. Other than slight misgivings over the name, I loved everything about Papercup. It’s a tiny place that packs in an impressive amount on Glasgow’s Great Western Road. Seating maybe 16 people at most, with maybe four more outside, Papercup offers a varied brunch menu, excellent cake and superb coffee. There’s even table service!

Papercup has the usual espresso-based offerings, with house blend and decaf, plus three single-origin beans, each paired to a specific preparation method (V60, Clever Dripper and Aeropress). There’s even cold brew! Best of all, the beans are all roasted right there in the back of the store.

Normally my timing is terrible since I rarely visit café/roasters when the roaster’s in operation (see, for example, TAP and House of Coffee) but in the case of Papercup, my luck was in! It was glorious to see the beans, freshly roasted, pouring into the cooling pan!

May 2018: Papercup now has a dedicated roastery just a short stroll away from the cafe. I'm hoping I can pay it a visit one day!

Continue reading...

Primal Roast

What looks to be a dinosaur's skull from the wall of Primal Roast in Glasgow, holding a Primal Roast takeaway cup between its open jaws.There’ve been a few openings in Glasgow since my last visit (for the previous Glasgow Coffee Festival, back in 2015), so when I returned for this year’s festival, I had lots of places to catch up on. Top of the list was Primal Roast, which opened in late 2015, and was the one place everyone said to visit. In the western part of the Glasgow’s compact city centre, it made the perfect kicking-off point for my one-day tour as I stopped by for breakfast.

Occupying a spacious basement on the north side of St Vincent Street, there’s a bright, sunny front section, with limited seating, and a large, cosy rear with multiple tables and sofas where you can curl up all day if you like.

The family-run Primal Roast is as much about food as it is coffee, with both reaching a similarly high standard. Local roasters, Dear Green Coffee, provide a bespoke house-blend on espresso, while there’s a continually-rotating cast of guests on filter through either V60 or Aeropress. If you’re hungry, there are full breakfast (until 11 on weekdays and all-day Saturday) and lunch menus, with extensive vegan options for both. There’s also a range of interesting cakes.

Continue reading...

Riverhill Coffee Bar

The writing in the window of the Riverhill Coffee Bar (reversed)For those of you whose appetites have been whetted by my feature on Glasgow in Issue 9 of Caffeine Magazine, I present the first of two Coffee Spots from that fair city which, for space reasons, didn’t make it into the article. Today we’re at the Riverhill Coffee Bar in the city centre, while on Thursday, we’ll be out on the Great Western Road, the other hub of Glasgow’s coffee scene, at the Veldt Deli.

Located just a stone’s throw from Glasgow’s Central Station, the terminus of the West Coast Mainline, Riverhill’s the perfect stopping off point for new arrivals. It also makes a great alternative if you’re killing time while waiting for a train. Despite occupying a tiny spot on Gordon Street, Riverhill nevertheless manages to pack a huge amount in. There’s breakfast and lunch, espresso and filter coffee from nearby Dear Green Coffee (literally a ten minute walk away), hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection and a selection of tea and a wide range of cake.

All of this is packed into an incredibly handsome space with bare-brick walls and just enough room for the counter, a six-seat bar on the opposite wall and a three-seat window bar.

Continue reading...

Short Long Black

The modest front of Short Long Black on Glasgow's Victoria Road, with a large, square window to the left and glass door to the right.Short Long Black is a new addition to Glasgow’s growing south-side coffee scene, having opened at the start of April this year. I first met the owner (and head barista and chief dishwasher) Darryl when he was awarded the 2017 Barista Bursary from Beyond The Bean. Back then he was working for Dear Green Coffee, but after taking a year out, he decided to open his own place, settling on a spot on Victoria Road, just north of Queen’s Park.

The shop itself is a relatively modest affair, but beautifully fitted-out, Darryl doing all the work himself in the two months before opening. There’s a small amount of seating at the front and more at the back, or you can grab one of the two stools outside on the pavement. Darryl sources the coffee himself, which is roasted on his behalf by local roasters, Thomson’s and served on espresso or batch-brew filter from a commendably-concise menu. This is joined by cakes and (from 11 o’clock) by toasted sandwiches, supplemented by a concise but tasty brunch menu at the weekends. Sadly I was there on a Friday and otherwise occupied at the weekend (at the Glasgow Coffee Festival).

Continue reading...

Siempre Bicycle Café

The Siempre Bicycle Café logo, a stylised face with a handlebar moustache, painted in black on the white brick wall at the café .Glasgow’s Siempre Bicycle Café continues the long association between cycling and coffee, occupying a multi-facetted space right next to the Kelvinhall Metro station in Glasgow’s West End.

Out front, there’s a cycle shop and sales room, where you can, if you like, sit and take your coffee, while at the back, there’s an equally large room where more typical café seating shares the space with the counter, which itself encloses an open-plan kitchen. If you keep on going, there’s also a large, sheltered garden right at the back. Unless, of course, you’re coming from the station, in which case you reach the garden first, then the café and finally the bike shop. Siempre also has a takeaway window, so you don’t even have to go inside if you don’t want to.

Serving Dear Green Coffee’s Goosedubs blend on espresso, with single origins available as filter from both Dear Green and another local roaster, Charlie Mills, Siempre has got the coffee side of things covered. There’s also an impressive array of tasty-looking cakes, plus a very comprehensive food offering. This being a cycle shop as well as a café, there’s also plenty of secure bicycle storage both inside and out.

Continue reading...

Spitfire Espresso

The Spitfire Espresso logo, as painted on the wall of the shop in Candleriggs.Another of Glasgow’s growing band of coffee shops, Spitfire Espresso joined the fray in 2015. Unlike the subject of Monday’s Coffee Spot, Meadow Road Coffee, which is taking speciality coffee out west, Spitfire Espresso is right in the centre, on the corner of Candleriggs and Ingram Street, less than 10 minutes’ walk from both Glasgow’s Queen Street and Central Stations. It’s also close to the likes of Laboratorio Espresso and Riverhill Coffee Bar and, in the other direction, McCune Smith. Spitfire also uses a local, Glaswegian roaster, in this case Avenue Coffee, which provides Spitfire with a bespoke espresso blend.

Spitfire Espresso is a bright, spacious spot, with high ceilings and plenty of seating, including tables outside on both Candleriggs and Ingram Street. There are also generous windows on both sides, adding to the bright interior. There’s a strong World War II/swinging 50s theme, with a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. As well as the aforementioned espresso, there’s also an all-day eggs menu, plus sandwiches and cakes, with the egg dishes and sandwiches named after WWII aircraft (eg Hawker Hurricane, P51 Mustang and Lancaster Bomber, not to mentioned the eponymous Spitfire: scrambled, poached or fried eggs on toast).

Continue reading...

The Cran'

A beautiful flat white from The Cran in Glasgow, served in an equally beautiful china cup.I was in Glasgow at the weekend for the 2017 Glasgow Coffee Festival, but before I travelled back down south, I spent Monday visiting some of the coffee shops that had sprung up since my last visit, back in 2015 for the previous Glasgow Coffee Festival. Chief amongst these is The Cran', a delightful little spot in Finnieston, at the eastern edge of Glasgow’s west end, which opened at the start of this year.

Occupying a long, thin space running along Argyle Street, The Cran' (which is named after the local landmark, a large crane on the banks of the Clyde) offers an interesting range of vegan food, cakes, loose-leaf tea and some excellent coffee on espresso and bulk-brew from a rotating cast of roasters, all served in a quirky space which reflects something of the history of the building it occupies.

The coffee-side of the operation is run by Gillian, who I first met in Avenue Coffee’s Great Western Road branch when she was a barista there. She was originally brought in by the owner, Aziz, to provide training, but when he saw how good she was, he immediately invited Gillian to run the coffee part of the business.

Continue reading...

The Good Coffee Cartel

My espresso and batch-brew, both served in ceramic cups, handmade on-site at The Good Coffee Cartel, with a tin of the Costa Rican single-origin beans behind .Set up by Todd and Courtney, who worked together at the now defunct Avenue Coffee Roasting Co, I first learnt about The Good Coffee Cartel at last year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival 2017, when I ran into Todd, who told me about plans for a new roastery and coffee shop.  Naturally, on my return to Glasgow for this year’s festival, I made a beeline for the new space on Glasgow’s south side.

The Good Coffee Cartel is a curious mixture: quirky coffee shop, roastery, ceramics workshop: it’s all these and more. The roastery is very clearly the backbone of the business, the vintage 15kg Probat sitting in the corner at the back. However, it’s also a spacious coffee shop, with a soon to be added back garden, somewhere you can sit all day and enjoy whatever excellent coffee Todd and Courtney have on that day, with different options on espresso and batch-brew, all served in cups that have been handmade on site. Even better is the pricing structure: all the coffee is £2, all the cakes are £2 and if you really want to push the boat out, you can have an espresso, espresso with milk and batch brew for £5.

Continue reading...

The Steamie

Detail from the A-board outside The Steamie on Glasgow's Argyle Street on a sunny day in May. Reads: "The Steamie Coffee Co. Estd. 2014"The Steamie’s been on my list for a little while. On the eastern edge of Glasgow’s West End in Finniestan, it’s just along from The Cran’ (and pre-dates it by several years). So it made sense to call in for lunch on my one-day, post Glasgow Coffee Festival tour. That and I’d run into the owner, Stephen, at the festival the day before, where he’d extracted a promise that I’d pop by…

Stephen, by the way, has been nagging, I mean, politely requesting, that I visit The Steamie for a couple of years now. It turns out that my failure to do so was not down to slackness on my part. No, I was waiting for The Steamie to start roasting its own coffee, which it did at the end of January. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

As well as coffee and a range of loose-leaf teas, The Steamie has an excellent range of cake, plus an all-day breakfast/lunch menu, serving the likes of muesli and porridge, along with toast, three options for poached eggs (meat, fish, veggie) and another three for baked eggs skillet (two veggie, one meat). There’s also soup, plus sandwiches (eat in/takeaway).

Continue reading...

Toro Coffee

The Toro Coffee logo, taken from the sign outside the shop on Pollockshaws Road.Toro Coffee burst onto Glasgow’s speciality coffee scene (specifically the Southside) in September, becoming an instant hit, partly thanks to the efforts of cheerleader-in-chief, my friend Charlotte. Indeed, when I popped over to Glasgow last week, Charlotte’s plan for the morning was “we’re going to Toro”. Not, “would you like to go to Toro?”. No, we were going. On the other hand, Charlotte has excellent taste in coffee shops, so I wasn’t about to disagree.

Other than the coffee, the main draw is the wonderful, friendly and welcoming owners, Ross and Gill. Although a new name, Toro has good pedigree: Ross’ big brother, Iain, owns Primal Roast, one of my favourite Glasgow breakfast spots (and also home to some excellent coffee).

Although there’s a wide selection of cakes, plus toast for breakfast (as if I needed any further encouragement) Toro’s main focus is the coffee. It’s a multi-roaster, offering separate options on espresso and filter, the later available as batch-brew through the ever-reliable Moccamaster, and as pour-over, using hand-thrown ceramic Kalita-wave style filters. The espresso changes every week, while the filter is swapped every day or two, with roasters drawn from just down the road to half way across Europe.

Continue reading...


If you don’t like lists or just want to see where everything is, you can use the map to find your way around.

search provided by Store Locator Plus