The Glasgow coffee scene has grown so much over the past year. It is simply a fact that we have never had it so good before ever. We’re in a situation now where there are a handful of places that I would consider to be serving high-end modern coffee with very little separating each of them in terms of quality and consistency.
So, here is my current list ranked in the only way that matters – purely by how much I have enjoyed the coffee and nothing but the coffee alone.
Was I being melodramatic last time? The Glasgow coffee scene is growing and things are starting to look up again.
I have revisited all the usual places, visited new places and yes, I’ve even been to several places that some people told me are serving “the best coffee in Glasgow”. Suffice it to say that none of these places were serving “the best coffee in Glasgow”. They certainly did not make it onto my relentlessly subjective and ludicrously unfair power rankings.
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.
Place: Cafe Ashton / Glasgow
Coffee: Talor & Jørgen / Ethiopia / Pixie Dust & Candy
Variety: Heirloom, Illubabor Forest / Natural
Roaster notes: Floral, lemongrass, ripe mango, hibiscus, guava, candied strawberries.
The coffee scene here in Glasgow is a fragile one isn’t it? There seems to only be a handful of baristas who have the knowledge, ability and interest to achieve truly high level modern coffee. Without them, coffee in Glasgow would just be really average.
So, Cafe Ashton then.
Here’s the problem with my power rankings – they’re unfair, completely based on my own opinions, totally affected by how often I’m going to a certain place in any given month, and not only that – nobody asked for them. Also, I know nothing about coffee.
Place: Back To Black @ Bakery47 / Victoria Road, Glasgow
Coffee: Colonna / Panama / El Carmen
Variety: Geisha / Washed
Drink: Clever Dripper brewed
Roaster notes: Floral, ripe juicy acidity, honey-like.
Back To Black, a.k.a. the Church of James Wallace, is now holding service at Bakery47.*
Coffee here is effortless. Flavours and aromas are made so deliberate and so obvious that there is no way you are not tasting the notes of raspberry or mango or dark chocolate or whatever single origin is on for that particular week. As usual, it was impossible to resist trying all three coffees on the menu – a solid washed El Salvador as espresso, a ludicrously good washed Ethiopian on batch brew**, and the first mind-blower of 2017 so far – a manually brewed Geisha from Colonna.
Place: Hay Fever / Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Coffee: Hay Fever / Ethiopia / Sidamo G1
Variety: Heirloom / Natural
Drink: Siphon brewed
Roaster notes: Raspberry, floral, chocolate.
“It’s clean. I’m getting red apple and redcurrant,” I said. “What notes do you get?”
“Drinking coffee is about relaxing,” the barista replied. “Stop worrying about what the tasting notes are supposed to be and just enjoy it.” And at that moment I knew that this guy was legit.
Place: Hazel & Hershey / Central, Hong Kong
Coffee: Hazel & Hershey / Ethiopia / Sidamo / Dimtu
Variety: Heirloom / Natural
Roaster notes: Apricot, wild berries, green grape, black tea.
Hazel & Hershey is exactly the kind of place I love to drink coffee in. It has all of the enthusiasm for coffee and none of the pretence. The entirety of one of its walls is lined with stuff for sale: coffee books, coffee equipment, coffee magazines, signed coffee mugs and… coffee. It was like a coffee nerd honeypot. The space itself is colourful, homely, and bright without being boringly clinical. It was surprisingly roomy inside but since I was drinking alone, there was only going to be one place for me to sit – the brew bar.
Place: The Cupping Room / Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Coffee: Sweet Bloom / Colombia / Huila / Timana
Variety: Castillo, Caturra, Colombia / Washed
Drink: Melitta brewed
Roaster notes: Cola, raisin, orange, sugar cane.
After an hour and a half trek from the New Territories, requiring a light bus and no less than four colours’ worth of MTR, I had finally arrived at The Cupping Room. It has consistently been the most likely name to appear during my research of coffee places to go to in Hong Kong. What better place to start?
Place: Dear Green Cafe Project / The Briggait, Glasgow
Coffee: Dear Green / Kenya / Gakayuini Peaberry
Variety: SL28, SL34 / Washed
Drink: V60 brewed
Roaster notes: Grape, elderflower, caramel.
It would have been so easy not to have bothered. I had spent an entire day at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival the day before and it was currently the day of the Great Scottish Run. Getting into and out of the city centre was going to take a lot of effort. But it was the last day of the year for the Dear Green Cafe Project*, and it would have been a huge regret to have missed it as a coffee nerd living in Glasgow.