18 August 2023

Eight Speciality Coffee Spots To Visit in Glasgow

Glasgow has been on my to-visit list for some time — as a destination for both a city break and a speciality coffee tour. I recently spent a long weekend there with my mum and was able to explore the vibrant and diverse speciality coffee scene of Scotland's largest city. Read on to find out more about the coffee shops and roasteries I visited on my trip. As usual, my very favourites are marked with an asterisk and have purple icons in my map below. Stay tuned for a separate post about all the other things we got up to during our stay in Glasgow. 

Black Pine Coffee Co (West End)

Great Western Road, located in Glasgow's West End, has a wealth of interesting places to eat, shop and, of course, caffeinate. If you're heading to the Botanic Gardens or Kelvingrove Park, Black Pine is a great place for a pit stop. The small and stylish coffee bar was bustling when we arrived late on a sunny Sunday morning. The queue meant that I had time to deliberate among the coffee options on offer (as well as the neon 'death before decaf' sign and collection of propagating plants). They had guest coffees from Campbell and Syme and Round Hill and a delicious-sounding seasonal drink — orange twisted espresso tonic. 

I wanted to try Black Pine's house espresso — a washed Guatemalan coffee — and it was absolutely delicious brewed as a piccolo. There are a few tables inside, opposite the counter, but they were all full, so I took my coffee, and a chocolate chip cookie, to go.

Black Pine is located at 518 Great Western Road (and 30 Hillfoot Street, Dennistoun). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Dear Green Coffee Roasters 
(East End)

The one coffee spot on my list that I absolutely had to visit during my trip was Dear Green, a speciality coffee roastery located just off Gallowgate in the East End. Founded by Lisa Lawson in 2011, Dear Green takes its name from Glasgow's nickname, 'dear green place', and indeed, many locals and visitors hold the roastery dear to their hearts.

As the roastery is closed at weekends, I had to wait until Monday morning to stop by. There isn't a café but you can buy coffee beans, which is exactly what I wanted to do. It was hard to choose just one coffee from the extensive selection but with some help from Kenan, I opted for a natural Rwandan Bumbogo. I've been brewing it at home in my Kōno dripper and it has super-juicy strawberry flavours.

Dear Green is located at Unit 2, 13–27 East Campbell Street. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Gordon Street Coffee 
(City Centre)

Some of the more central coffee shops on my list are closed at weekends or open a little later, so I was grateful to be able to visit Gordon Street Coffee, inside Glasgow Central Station, on Saturday morning. They serve a range of espresso-based drinks brewed with coffee roasted in the roaster on the mezzanine level. My cortado, brewed with the Glasgow Roast blend, had rich, chocolatey notes.

There are also various cakes, bagels and breakfast sandwiches — we'd already had a lorne (square) sausage sandwich at a caff next to our hotel but these ones looked rather better. Sadly, the weather was not good enough for the outdoor seating but there are also seating options on the ground floor and on the mezzanine, where you can keep an eye on the departure board. Retail bags of coffee and coffee-making kit is also on sale.

Gordon Street Coffee is located at 79 Gordon Street. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Laboratorio Espresso 
(City Centre)

With a modern take on the traditional Italian espresso bar, Laboratorio Espresso brewed me one of the best piccolos I've had all year! They had an Ethiopian coffee from Dutch roaster Dak in the hopper, and the peach, lemon and black tea notes came out beautifully with a little milk. My mum and I went back on our last afternoon for another piccolo (me) and tea (mum) and our drinks were just as good. We sat on one of the benches outside, which was great for people-watching — and bike-watching!

Regular readers will know that after I lost my pink 4oz KeepCup, I struggled to replace it as KeepCup have discontinued the small size, but I now have two replacements, one of which is pictured above. And if you too are looking for a wee KeepCup, at the time of writing Laboratorio Espresso have one in stock!

Laboratorio Espresso is located at 93 West Nile Street. Twitter. Instagram.

Papercup Coffee Company 
(West End)

Just along Great Western Road from Black Pine, Papercup is another great coffee shop to visit in the West End. It's also a super place for brunch — the breakfast buns, 'stuff on sourdough toast' and other dishes we saw at neighbouring tables looked and smelled delicious — but we had already had breakfast and weren't quite ready for lunch. Instead, we took a seat in the colourful cafe and ordered some drinks. 

Papercup roasts their coffee at a site near the River Clyde not too far from the Riverside Musuem. They had a natural coffee from PNG — Hot Date — available as a batch-brew filter coffee, but I went for a piccolo with the Ritual espresso, which tasted smooth and sweet. Retail bags of Hot Date and Jam Session, a Rwandan carbonic maceration process coffee, were also available. Papercup's café is very relaxed and the staff were extremely welcoming.

Papercup is located at 603 Great Western Road (and their roastery at SWG3). Website. Instagram.

Riverhill Coffee Bar (City Centre)

At Dear Green, I asked the lovely staff for recommendations of where I could drink their coffee at other coffee shops in the city and Riverhill was one of their suggestions. The small coffee bar is very close to the central station and Gallery of Modern Art and they have an incredible selection of cakes (yes please, Mars Bar Krispie Cake!) and bagels. 

There are a few seats opposite the counter inside the small, slender shop but it was busy during my visit, so I took my piccolo to go before heading off to my tour of Glasgow City Chambers. Very enjoyable it was too!

Riverhill is located at 24 Gordon Street. Website. Instagram.

Spitfire Espresso (Merchant City)

With its bold décor and Spitfire-related memorabilia adorning its walls, Spitfire Espresso is a unique spot for a coffee shop in Merchant City. When I visited on a Monday morning, the sun was streaming through the windows, bathing the café with light. And once my coffee and breakfast roll (lorne sausage and fried egg) had arrived, all was right with the world again. My piccolo, brewed with the Gunnerbeans house espresso (roasted in partnership with Thomson's and continuing the aircraft theme), tasted great. They were also serving guest coffees from Double Skinny Macchiato favourites Jericho Coffee Traders and Outpost. If you're too late for breakfast, there are other bites on offer, as well as beers.

Spitfire Espresso is located at 127 Candleriggs. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Us V Them 
(East End)

After a stroll through Glasgow Green, trying to avoid getting caught up in the ubiquitous World Cycling Championships, we were glad to take a pew in the industrial-chic surroundings (featured in the top photo in this post) of Us V Them near Barras Market on Gallowgate. I was keen to have a pourover but as the hand-brewed filter coffees were made with guest coffees, I also ordered a piccolo brewed with Us V Them's house espresso.

Both of my coffees were excellent. The piccolo had the perfect sweetness, with latte art that lasted all the way down to the bottom. My pourover was brewed with an anaerobic Colombian coffee from Hackney roaster Dark Arts Coffee. I didn't see the tasting notes but I was getting bubble gum and blackberry flavours in every sip, especially as the coffee cooled. The spacious café has plenty of places to sit and features cool and colourful artwork on the walls. They also have an espresso bar in the lobby of McLellan Works in the city centre but it's closed at weekends and I ran out of time to visit.

Us V Them is located at 200 Gallowgate (and 274 Sauchiehall Street). Website. Instagram.

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