When I wrote the first power rankings back in April, I was worried that the Glasgow coffee scene would not be dynamic enough to justify writing a second any time soon. I was wrong.
These rankings remain, as ever, entirely subjective and completely unfair. It is also based purely on the coffee itself without taking into account food or environment. I should also state that all attempts made by baristas to bribe me with focaccia or otherwise have been and will remain unsuccessful in compromising my integrity.
1. Back To Black
[⬆︎ from 2]
You come at the king, you best not miss.
James Wallace is making the best espresso in Glasgow. Am I biased because of my love for high-ratio EK shots? Unapologetically, yes. Perhaps you don’t know what a “high-ratio EK shot” is – it doesn’t matter because for as much intracacy, nerdery and skill that goes into each cup of coffee served here, pretentiousness and snobbery is left at the door.
I urge you to get coffee here while you still can… Back To Black’s current host Bakery 47 has recently announced its closure on 17th September 2017, and with it JW might be hanging up his portafilter for good. This is sad news and will be a huge blow to Glasgow coffee. Although, I can’t say that I blame him, I do hope he changes his mind.
2. It All Started Here
[⬆︎ from 5]
The famous pop-up by Will Heenan has evolved into a bona fide brick and mortar shop and its somewhere I have visited a lot since it opened in May. The roasters on rotation read like a who’s who of European coffee and it has been fun to be able to taste some of this high-end stuff right here in Glasgow. The coffee here is made obsessively well and you can tell that this whole project was born out of a deep love of coffee.
3. Papercup Roastery, Belmont Lane
These guys are now roasting in the West End and have opened bar on the premises. What we have is a Black Eagle and an EK43 wrestled from the hands of their older brother on High Street. At the moment, it is a deliberately poorly advertised hideout for coffee nerds and selfishly, I hope it stays this way. (It won’t.) It has also single-handedly caused a 100% increase in the number of cafes in Glasgow serving exclusively EK spro (to the heady heights of two).
4. Papercup, High Street
[⬇︎ from 3]
So, the EK43 is gone and with it, hand-brewed filter coffee. To this I say a big “so what?”. Espresso has always been their strength. They still have one single origin on at a time, they still have their Robur and it’s still really good. Their V60 brews varied immensely between baristas and I think their move towards batch brew is going to be an improvement once they get the hang of it.
I like this place a lot. What you will find here is one coffee on rotation made well on humble equipment by somebody who really gets it. With the imminent closure of their supplier, Avenue, it will be interesting to see which roaster they go with.
6. Laboratorio Espresso
[⬆︎ from 7]
Lab are still banging out solid cups from big name European roasters. Espresso is what to order here, as it is usually better than their filter. I do wish I got a bit more chat out of them, though!
7. Artisan Roast
It had been a couple of years since my last visit but you know what? They’ve been around for years and it’s still good. It also remains one of the few places to get reliably good hand-brewed filter coffee. One negative for me is that the menu of coffees available is always unnecessarily large. Definitely ask the staff for recommendations when you go here.
Now for some housekeeping…
This time round, I have actively made an effort to visit places that I haven’t been to before or haven’t been to for a very long time. Could it be possible that there is a place out there that should be on this list that I am unaware of? To that I say… absolutely! But highly unlikely. If you, reader, believe that there is a place that I’ve left out then I would hugely appreciate the tip. Maybe you could tweet at me.
Next, a special mention for Cafe Ashton, who I have decided not to include in the power rankings due to its exclusive invite-only nature. If it were a cafe open to the public then without a doubt it would be very high on the list indeed. If you are curious to visit then drop Rob a message – I’m confident that you would be enthusiastically welcomed.
And finally, more sad news as Avenue are shutting down as of 10th July 2017. Perhaps something good will come of all the staff who are now finding themselves jobless. Good luck to them.