Peña is a recent addition to Glasgow’s ever-growing coffee scene, having joined the ranks in the summer of 2014. Located in the West End, near the university, it is (literally) just around the corner from Artisan Roast and not far from the likes of Papercup, Avenue Coffee and the Veldt Deli on the nearby Great Western Road.
Other than being a bit Tardis-like (small on the outside, surprisingly large on the inside), Peña’s main claim-to-fame is its toasted-sandwich-and-coffee business model. Unfortunately for Peña, I’ve dropped the Coffee Spot’s Best Cheese Toastie Award! Peña somewhat blots its copybook by serving soup (a soup toastie, anyone?) and cake to go with the toasted sandwiches, while there’s tea and shakes alongside the coffee.
However, this is redeemed by providing sweet as well as savoury toasties (The Nigella: white chocolate, raspberry jam, ricotta and almonds, caught my eye) and by getting its filter coffee from Berlin legends, The Barn. To my knowledge, Peña is the only place in Glasgow to regularly stock The Barn. The filter coffee is available via the Aeropress, with the particular beans on offer rotating on a regular basis. Espresso is provided by Workshop’s ubiquitous Cult of Done seasonal blend.
May 2018: I believe that Peña has closed its original location on Eton Lane, but there are plans for a successor. Watch this space!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Peña is small. It’s not quite in the tiny category, but approaching along Eton Lane (a pedestrian-only lane running between Great George and Gibson Streets), it looks tiny. Occupying a modest, standalone building on the east side of the lane, there’s a pair of benches plus a handful of chairs outside. Looking at it, I was of the firm opinion that there couldn’t be that much more to it inside. However, appearances can be deceptive and, just like the Tardis, Peña is much bigger on the inside than the outside.
In this case, however, it’s not temporal mechanics that explains the paradox, but the cunning use of a slope. Stepping through the sliding door, you’re confronted with two sets of steps, one ahead of you which leads up, the other, on the right, leading down. You need to go this way first and find the counter, which is tucked away to the left, under the stairs. There’s a surprising amount of seating down here, with a padded bench running in an L-shape against the back and right-hand walls. There are five small, square tables arranged along the bench, with small, low stools providing the rest of the seating. Everything, except the stools and the metal stairs, looks as if it’s been thrown together out of chip board, a feeling that’s reinforced by the walls and floor, which are bare chipboard as well.
Despite its small size, Peña doesn’t feel that cramped, helped by five large mirrors on the back wall, opposite the door. There are also plenty of lights to compensate for a low ceiling and a lack of natural light.
Peña has Wifi throughout, but if you want power, you have to head upstairs where the décor is very similar, but with a bit more natural light. Since there’s no counter, there’s a bit more room up here, but it’s still not that large. Directly ahead of you as you turn right at the top of the stairs is a narrow bar, with two stools. Beyond this, against the back wall, which is now to your left, there are a pair of booths, which are probably my favoured option. Opposite them, by the windows, are two thin, high tables with stools, while to your right is an L-shaped bar that runs around the top of the stairs.
Peña’s business model is fairly simple: coffee and a toastie for £4, with 50p extra for filter coffee. Since this is Peña’s raison d’être, I thought I should give it a go. There are six toasties on the regular menu, one of which is fish-based and one vegetarian. However, I went for the seventh, a veggie special of Falafel, Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, Spinach & Harissa, an interesting mix. I have to confess to being a little sceptical at the combination, but it was actually extremely tasty and very crunchy as well.
Since I can get Workshop’s Cult of Done pretty much whenever I feel like it, I went for the Lola from The Barn, a Costa Rican (the alternative being a more commonly-found Kocheri from Ethiopia). It arrived in a carafe with a big, round cup and a glass of water, which I appreciated. The coffee itself was lovely, a well-rounded, well-balanced cup and very smooth, with some subtle fruity notes.
|5 ETON LANE • GLASGOW • G12|
|Monday||08:30 – 17:00||Roaster||Workshop (espresso) + The Barn (filter)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Bar; Chairs, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 17:00||Food||Toasties, Soup, Cake|
|Thursday||08:30 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:30 – 17:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Saturday||08:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Chain||No||Visits||29th November 2014|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Glasgow for more great Coffee Spots.
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