9 Christmas Gifts for the Coffee Lover

Wondering what to get the coffee lover in your life? Already have every piece of brewing apparatus out there? We've curated our top coffee-related gifts for the coffee lover in your life.

Latte Art Masterclass Gift Voucher

Master the art of texturing perfect milk and learn how to pour latte art like a pro.

Find out more

Aergrind 3.jpg

Knock Aergrind

The best compact hand grinder on the market. Bar none. Fits inside an Aeropress for coffee travellers.  

Find out more

Brew Lab Tote Bag

Large black canvas tote bag with brewing design. Very strong and durable.

Find out more


Espresso Masterclass Gift Box

Learn to make espresso like our professional baristas at Brew Lab.       

Find out more

BL Cold Brew - 2 Bottle Gift Set

Two bottles of our naturally sweet, single-origin cold brew, presented in a gift box.

Find out more

KeepCup Cork 12oz (340ml)

This glass re-usable mug doesn't taint the taste of your brew.

Find out more


Filter Masterclass Gift Voucher

Perfect your home coffee brewing with our filter brewing masterclass.        

Find out more

Colonna Nespresso Coffee Pods

Colonna have taken coffee pods to the next level with Nespresso-compatible pods. 

Find out more

Scottish Indie Coffee Guide

A run-down of the coffee shops you need to visit in Scotland.

Find out more



World Aeropress Champs Annual

A beautiful 300 page  compendium of the 2016 World Aeropress Championship.

Find out more


Scottish Aeropress Champs 2017 - Results, Recipes and Photos

They came, they brewed and one man conquered; Ali Duncan is our 2017 Scottish Aeropress Champion! Ali is off to Seoul in South Korea, courtesy of intelligentPOS to compete in the World Championships on 9th November. 

Our top three (including recipes) were:

1st Place - Ali Duncan (Cairngorm Coffee)


Coffee: 20g | Grinder: Porlex | Grind size: medium fine | Water temp: 90-92 degrees | Orientation: right way up 

  1. 40g water in swirl for 20s 
  2. 0:40s bring water up to 250g 
  3. Stir and plundge areopress 1/8th of the way down under extracting some coffee 
  4. 2:30 plunge the whole areopress for 30s 
  5. Stir and serve 

2nd Place - Rob Ashton (Independent) 


Coffee: 32g | Grinder: Lido3 | Grind size: super coarse | Water temp: various | Orientation: right way up

  1. 100g room temperature water, rinse through in 60s, discard rinse
  2. 150g 97c water, lid on so nothing comes out 
  3. Wait a minute 
  4. Plunge super gently, finishing at 2:40 total elapsed time

3rd Place - Claire Wallace (Brew Lab)


Coffee: 16g | Grinder: EK43 | Grind size: medium fine | Water temp: 94/95 degrees | Orientation: right way up

  1. 50g water to bloom
  2. Stir three times at 0:10s
  3. Pour at 0:40 until full 
  4. Cap and plunge at 1:00-1:30 

Special mention to 4th place Iain Lindsay, an avid home-brewer who was competing for the first time ever. 


We had 34 competitors take place in total from across Scotland (and one from Australia!). There was a great turnout from independent home brewers, as well as baristas and roasters. 

Our three judges held up well, despite the significant amount of coffee intake. They represented the three roasteries that donated coffee for our three way blend competition coffee. Emiliya Yordanova from Machina, Zack Williams from Williams & Johnson and Matt Carroll from Fortitude Coffee Roasters


The "other" competition was back too - The Avocado Toast Making Competition, sponsored by Company Bakery. Four teams slugged it out to be the fastest to make some avocado toast and eat it. It was chaos. 


Thanks to all our wonderful sponsors who made the night possible.

IntelligentPOS | Edinburgh Coffee Festival | Knock | CoffeeHit | TKC Sales | Marco | Williams & Johnson | Machina | Fortiude 

Thanks also to our band Brass Gumbo, stall holders Baba Budan, Knock, Company Bakery and Jones & Son BBQ and our wonderful host Jodie Mitchell. 

Finally, photographer for the night was Gavin Smart - see the full gallery of his photos below.  

Beer, Wine, Cocktails and Late Opening

Ever since we first came up with the idea of opening a coffee shop, before Brew Lab was even thought of, we've wanted to create a space that opened in the evening and offered a place between a coffee shop and a bar. Over the last four years, what has become very clear is that people love spending time in Brew Lab. That has finally given us the confidence to extend the experience into the evening. 

This week, after much delaying, we're launching a new and exciting side to Brew Lab; one that takes the same meticulous approach we give to coffee, and applies it to the sort of things we love to drink when we're not working here - beer, wine and cocktails. 

From Thursday we'll be open until 9pm, 5 days a week (Wed-Sun). We'll have a new menu offering two outstanding beers, two 'real' wines, two seasonal cocktails as well as a simple food menu of locally sourced cheese and cured meats. And, of course, we'll continue to serve the speciality coffee that we have become known for. 


We sure love beer, almost as much as we love coffee. In the last few years the Scottish (and wider UK) beer scene has exploded, just like the speciality coffee scene. We feel that there are a lot of parallels between the two. We've installed beer taps at the end of the bar, and we'll be serving two different beers that will change frequently. We won't be aiming to please every type of beer drinker - we'll just be looking to showcase the amazing beers we love to drink. I suppose you could call what we'll be serving 'craft beer', but that goes without saying really. 

A post shared by Pilot Beer UK (@pilotbeeruk) on


To start, we've partnered up with Edinburgh's Pilot Beer - a small brewery based in Leith who brew unfined (that's code for 'is occasionally a bit hazy' but also code for 'very tasty and totally vegan') beer that is really very good.


Wine has always been a passion of one of our co-founders, Tom. After working in the trade for Majestic, Valvonna & Crolla and Harvey Nics, he got distracted by coffee and opened Brew Lab. We've always wanted to put that passion to good use though, so now we're bringing wine into Brew Lab. 

A post shared by Henri (@henriraeburn) on

We'll be working with Henri of Edinburgh who import some very exciting organic, biodynamic and 'real' or 'natural' wines from France and wider afield. We'll have two wines on which will change regularly - sometimes a white and a red, sometimes two whites (and occasionally maybe an orange or rose) - but our menu will be dictated by the season and whatever we feel is awesome at the time.


We spent a lot of last year travelling around beer and coffee festivals to promote our cold brew coffee. We realised that cold brew was such a versatile mixing ingredient, and teamed up with Arbikie Highland Estate to create some innovative cocktails using our cold brew and their spirits. Arbikie Highland Estate is first a foremost a potato farm, but they use some of their potatoes (that are too ugly for the supermarkets!) to distill one of the few potato vodkas available in the UK. It's an outstanding vodka - creamy and sweet and makes for a superior coffee martini when paired with our cold brew. They also turn their potato base spirit into a gin using botanicals from around the area of the East Coast they are based, including juniper from their very own orchard. 

We'll be serving an evolving range of cocktails using Arbikie's spirits, our cold brew, and a range of home made syrups, cold extractions and bitters. 

Soft Drinks

We get very excited about non-alcoholic drinks too. Last summer we discovered Left Field Kombucha at the Assembly Food Festival and were really impressed with their fermented tea soda. We'll also have a changing menu of drinks from the likes of Edinburgh's Root Soda, Kitsch and Bon Accord


We'll be keeping our evening food menu simple and high quality, just like our existing brunch and lunch menus. We've teamed up with Edinburgh's Mellis Cheese and East Coast Cured to offer some tasty cheese and cured meat boards, as well as offering some alternatives for those who aren't as carnivorous. 

Let us know what you think, and we look forward to seeing you from Thursday 20th April. 

Brew Lab West End Ambassador Programme

To celebrate the opening of Brew Lab | West End, we’re giving away a round of free coffee for your whole office. If you work in Edinburgh's West End, register your interest using the form below. We’ll get back to you by the 19th February to let you know when you can come and collect your coffee vouchers.

Make sure to read the Terms & Conditions.

This promotion is now closed

Brew Lab | West End

Brew Lab West end is now open! It's been over a year in the making but we're really happy with how it turned out, and wanted to tell you a bit more about it.

We had been on the lookout for a site for a Brew Lab 2 for quite some time and we found the garage on Queensferry Street Lane in November 2014. We’ve always thought the West End was crying out for some specialty coffee and when we found the garage, we thought it would make the perfect small, high volume, takeaway focused café for the busy office crowd of the West End. 


The unit used to be a lockup garage which gave us a blank canvas to work with. In terms of design, we wanted to make it contrast the South College Street café which reflects its period features, and university setting with reclaimed school furniture, bare brick and plaster. We’ve ended up with a super contemporary look with clean, eccentric lines, strip lights and neon that gives a nod to the 90s.


In terms of coffee - Brew Lab West End is an exercise in coffee making automation, using some exciting new coffee kit that wasn't available when we opened the original Brew Lab. After the barista has set the coffee recipe for the day using their sensory skills, repeatability and consistency are key. Espresso machines already help to ensure this repeatability to a certain extent; our VA388 Black Eagle at South College Street is extremely temperature and pressure stable, but to make sure you're producing the best espresso every time the barista has to be paying a lot of attention to buttons, a timer and a scale.  Filter coffee is much harder produce consistent results with from one coffee to the next. With a pour over, no matter how much training a barista has, there will always be differences in how one barista pours water over the coffee bed to the other.  At Brew Lab West End we have two machines that help to vastly improve our consistency.

For espresso we have the next generation of the Black Eagle: the VA388 Black Eagle Gravimetric. This machine has weight units built into the drip tray, and will automatically cut the espresso shot when the desired beverage weight is met. So far we've found the machine has been producing espresso to an accuracy we hadn't been able to achieve before. 

For filter coffee, we're using Marco SP9 brewers. These brewers ensure the brewing water stays at a constant temperature throughout the brewing process, and they disperse the required amount of water consistently each time. This means every brew throughout the day should taste just like the QC brews we make. 

Once the coffee is dialled in each day, these machines will mean we can serve the best coffee possible and enable the barista to pay more attention to customers and service, as well as how the coffee tastes, instead of constantly watching a scale and a timer. 

As in South College Street, we’ll have two rotating single origin filter coffees from roasters such as Notes, The Barn, Square Mile, Workshop Coffee, and two seasonal single origin espressos from our friends at Has Bean. We’ve also put in a Cold Brew Coffee tap, so we’ll be serving our Nitro Cold Brew on draught, as well as our bottled cold brew to takeaway. 

We’re also really excited to be working even closer with Lovecrumbs and Twelve Triangles. The lady bakers are going to be baking not just our cakes, but all of our pastries and bread too – plus they’re going to be supplying us with incredible filled baguettes. We’ll still have the outstanding soups and salads from Union of Genius too, as well as the best hot chocolate & teas in Edinburgh from Edward & Irwyn and Pekoe Tea respectively. 

12 Days of Brew Lab Christmas

To celebrate the arrival of Christmas and the launch of our online shop, we have put together a gift guide, showcasing some of our products, and are running a competition in which you can win a different daily prize over the next 12 days.

Hover over and click on each of the images below to find out more about the prizes and purchase them at our online shop. Keep on reading after the image grid to find out how to enter our competition.


Each day until December 12th, we will be giving away a different product from our gift guide. In order to enter the competition you just need to fill in the form below – your email address is mandatory and each extra entry will give you more chances of winning the daily prize. The winner will be contacted via email and announced through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Remember to come back every day to enter our competition and win a new prize.

Day 12 – 2 hours of Private Barista Training

A bespoke, one-on-one session that helps you perfect your technique in any aspect of coffee making you choose.

Book the training  

This form opens at 12AM and closes at 11.45PM every day. 
Terms and conditions apply. 

Brew Lab at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival

The inaugural Edinburgh Coffee Festival is taking place this Saturday at Mansfield Traquair, and we'll be taking a mobile coffee Training Lab, including our Slayer Espresso Machine. Come along to our stand and learn how to pull an espresso shot - you'll also be able to take advantage of a special offer on our coffee training classes, exclusive to festival attendees.

On top of the Training Lab, we'll be taking our Nitro Cold Brew bar and you'll be able to sample our creamy nitro cold brew, as well as take away bottles of BL Cold Brew.

We're also very excited to be joined by our pals from Twelve Triangles who will be serving up their outstanding doughnuts. 

Tickets for the festival are available here

Victoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle & other new toys

We've had a few new exciting coffee toys arrive in Brew Lab over the last few weeks, the most notable being our new espresso machine - the Nuova SimonelliVictoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle. The Black Eagle is moving onto the bar while The Slayer will be moving to a new project that we're developing to be revealed in a few months.

The Black Eagle is a beautiful re-design of Nuova Simonelli's highly respected espresso machine, the Aurelia II T3. It brings all the temperature stability and precision that we are familiar with from the Slayer, but with some extra technology that will help us to ensure our espresso is consistently the best it possibly can be.

We have also got a new espresso grinder on our bar - Nuova Simonelli's Mythos One Clima Pro, which solves a significant amount of problems that have existed in espresso grinders for a long time. The Mythos One has an an intelligent milling chamber temperature management system, which helps to negate the issues you experience when your grinder burrs heat up due to lots of coffee grinding, or cool down due to infrequent grinding. This, coupled with a few other ingenious innovations such as vertical burrs, and a sloping hopper will help to ensure we're consistently producing delicious coffee quickly.

Our new brew bar grinder, the Mahlkoenig EK43 has been introduced to improve the quality of our filter coffee, and open up new possibilities for a larger variety of guest espresso at Brew Lab. The EK43 has huge burrs, positioned vertically which help to create an extremely consistent grind - vital for making perfectly extracted filter coffee.

We love talking about coffee making kit at Brew Lab, so if you have any questions feel free to ask us in the cafe.

El Salvador Finca La Illusion Natural Bourbon

This Sunday we will be preparing a very unique coffee from El Salvador for the Super Secret Sunday Syphon Society.

Country of origin: El Salvador

Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range

Farm: 3.5 hectares

Varieties: Bourbon

Process: Natural

Brewing method: Syphon

This coffee comes from a farm called La Ilusion that borders one of the most important national parks in El Salvador, known as 'Los Andes'. The farm sits on the Santa Ana Volcano and is packed with dense pine and cypress forest, both of which provide La Ilusion with a very unique micro-climate.

La Ilusion was bought by a man named Ernesto in 2006 and has coffee trees averaging 19 years of age. Ernesto ensures that the farm is run using environmentally friendly practices in order to support the unique surroundings which form part of a natural fauna corridor that is crucial to migratory and native birds.

This coffee was used by the 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez, and Steve Leighton - head of Has Bean Coffee - says it is one of his top three coffees of all time. It's easy to see why; it has incredible notes of creamy strawberry milkshake, red velvet cake and spicy liquorice.

Although we often choose delicate, clean and elegant coffees for our Syphon offerings at Brew Lab, this coffee represents an entirely different proposition. It is an intense, full bodied natural that has incredible body and a resonant finish. We are sure our customers will love this prized and distinctive coffee as much as we do.

El Salvador Finca Escocia SL-28 Washed Cup of Excellence

This Sunday we have a very exciting coffee on our brew bar for one day only - El Salvador Finca Escocia SL-28 Washed Cup of Excellence.

Country of origin: El SalvadorRegion: UsulutanFarm: Escocia - Caledonia S.AVarieties: SL-28Process: WashedBrewing method: Syphon

The farm where this coffee originates from was initially boughtbya Scotsman named Henry Adams Butter, who came to El Salvador from Dundee at the end of the 1800s. This is where the farms name - Escocia - comes from. The farm is now owned by Henry's granddaughter, Johanna.

The most interesting thing about this coffee is that it is an SL-28 varietal. SL-28 is usually only found in Africa, most commonly in Kenya. However, some farmers - including Johanna - have decided to experiment by planting SL-28 in Central Southern America. This coffee is a stunning example of how continued experimentation at origin can help to produce some truly unique coffees.

This is the first time in a few years that Has Bean have chosen to exclusively buy a Cup of Excellence lot. The Cup of Excellence is a stringent selection process and competition held in coffee producing countries. Around sixty of the best samples from each country are put before an international jury made up of some of the most influential coffee buyers in the world. The top ten samples are then sent to an internet auction and sold to the highest bidder.

This coffee is exceptionally sweet and smooth, a classic quality that we tend to associate with coffees from El Salvador. However, this coffee has an awful lot of depth and complexity. After an initial milk chocolate sweetness, it develops into a delicious acidity of tropical fruits and papaya.

We are preparing this coffee on Syphon this Sunday in order to highlight its delicate acidity and to accentuate the creamy body and mouthfeel. We are excited to offer our customers the chance to taste this unique coffee and hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Cold Brew, Cascara Soda and other cold things

Cold Brew Coffee The hot weather is very much here and when its scorching cold brew is the order of the day. Our cold brew coffee was so popular last year we decided to bottle it this year.

The cold brew is steeped over night for 16 hours in cold water. The long, cold extraction creates a really balanced and naturally sweet coffee to refresh you when you're sweltering on a hot Edinburgh day in the meadows. We don't put anything in it other than single origin coffee from Has Bean, and our wonderful Edinburgh water.

At the moment, we have Has Bean's Costa Rica Finca De Licho bottled - we get a huge amount of chocolate, peanuts and butterscotch and it's low in acidity - which perfectly contrasts the Kenya Kii Peaberry we're using for iced pour-overs at the moment.

Iced Pour-Over 

Iced pour-overs are back again after being really popular last year. Over the summer we'll be brewing light, fruity and acidic Kenyans, Ethiopians and whatever else is tasty.

We use the same Kalita Waves for our iced pour-overs that we use for all our brewed coffees, but we brew a concentrate that is then diluted when poured over ice.

The pour-over method brings a lot of flavour clarity that really helps the coffee shine. We're currently brewing a Kenyan Kii Peaberry from Tate Coffee Roasters which gives us sweet mango, cranberry and chocolate mousse.

Dry-hopped Cascara & Apricot Soda

Cascara is the dried fruit of the coffee cherry - the fruit from which we get the coffee bean. We serve cascara tea in Brew Lab and last year we were making cascara & elderflower iced tea.

This year we decided to take it to the next level. We're cold brewing cascara & apricots over night - this results in a sweet brew with notes of marmalade, apricot and apple. We then dry-hop the brew with American Liberty hops which are relatively low in acidity. This adds a subtle, refreshing citrus bitterness to the brew.

Then the cascara is served from a soda siphon to create a lightly sparkling soda. It's super unusual, but extremely delicious.

Iced Lattes & Mochas

As with last year, our iced lattes & mochas are back for those who need something milky and sweet in the hot weather. We're using our amazing milk blend from Has Bean for both and in iced lattes there's a wonderful strawberry angel delight flavour coming from the naturally processed Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo.

Honey Process - The Bee’s Knees


Here's Ewan to tell us more about coffee honey processing.

As the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed this week at Brew Lab, we have been serving three different Has Bean coffees that have all undergone Honey Processing. Our new house espresso - Costa Rica Finca Kattia Herbazu, the latest addition to the brew bar - Costa Rica Finca De Licho and our most recent Syphon offering - Bolivia David Vilca Caturra Yellow Honey.

Honey processing is part of the natural family of processing methods, where coffee that is not fully pulped (has not had it’s fruit removed) is left to ferment and dry in the sun with some fruit left on the seed.

A fully natural coffee is left in the sun to dry for a number of weeks with all of it’s fruit left on the seed. This produces a particularly intense, funky and sweet flavour with quite a full, heavy mouthfeel. Honey processing is where the fruit is removed (or pulped) using a water pulper (or a mechanical scrubber if water is scarce) but some of the fruit’s mucilage is left on the seed. It is then left to ferment in the sun, just like a natural coffee - but for about half the length of time.

Honeyed coffee tends to lend some of that heavy mouthfeel and interesting funk that a natural coffee offers but thanks to the removal of the fruit, it is often much cleaner and more balanced than a fully natural coffee. This also makes honey processed coffee highly suitable for espresso.

Traditionally you can expect a distinct natural sweetness like you would find in Bee’s Honey - hence the name! Honeyed coffee will generally also carry enhanced fruit notes and a really sweet acidity.

At the moment, honey processing is the most environmentally friendly method of processing coffee as it can involve absolutely no water use whatsoever. This lack of necessity for water makes it a popular processing method in countries like Costa Rica, where water is an incredibly valuable resource. It also makes economic sense for the farmers, where the price of a mechanical scrubber is incomparable compared to that of a water pulper and a guardiola (a mechanical dryer).

There are three different grades of honey process - red, yellow and black. Red Honey is more-or-less the same as the Pulped Natural processing method. Here, only the skin of the fruit is removed from the seed and left to ferment, rather than the whole fruit removed and just the mucilage left. Yellow and Black Honey coffees are very similar, with Black Honeyed coffee involving much sweeter fruit at the peak of it’s ripeness. Yellow Honey is the most common of the three.

This is easily my favourite processing method and one that I would definitely recommend you keep an eye out for next time you’re in Brew Lab.

Our coffee roasters Has Bean have a great little video about honey processing here.

Follow Ewan on Twitter @GlasgowBarista

Ewan's 2014 UK Barista Championship Diary

Ewan Osprey Allan UKBC 2014

Here's Ewan Osprey-Allen to tell us about his 2014 UKBC experience - find Ewan on Twitter @GlasgowBarista As some of you may have noticed on Brew Lab's Twitter and Facebook feeds, I’ve been competing in this year's UK Barista Championship. It has been months of hard work, late nights and practice sessions to hardened groups of friends who have been "judging" my presentations. After the initial heat in Birmingham in January, I made it through to the semi-final at the London Coffee Festival in early April. The UK has one of the best coffee competition cultures in the world, so the standards were very high. In the end I finished tenth in the UK and second in Scotland.

ukbc, barista, coffee, edinburgh

The competition takes the format of a fifteen minute presentation. Each competitor serves four judges an espresso, cappuccino and a "Signature Beverage" which is a non-alcoholic cocktail designed to enhance the flavour of the espresso. You are judged on a variety of factors ranging from your presentation skills to your tidiness, cleanliness and the taste of your coffee. Your coffee needs to taste exactly the way you have described it. My coffee tasted of malt, toffee and Reese's peanut butter cups. In theory, you don't need to serve something tasty - if your espresso tastes of rotten eggs and battery acid and you describe that flavour accurately, you will do very well!

When it comes to the sensory side of things, the judges are looking to score the competitors on three categories - taste, flavour and tactile. Taste and flavour are quite different things and so the challenge is to be able to differentiate between those and communicate them appropriately in order to maximise points. Taste is the balance between sweetness, acidity and bitterness. My coffee had a caramel sweetness, a slight cocoa powder bitterness and a tangerine and green grape acidity. As previously mentioned, it had toffee, peanut butter cup and malt flavours. Nearly half of your points are scored in tactile. There are a lot of words bandied around to help make tactile descriptions easier, words like smooth and round. I looked back on previous year’s winners for an example of what descriptors have been used in the past. James Hoffmann, who won the World Championship in 2007, described his espresso as feeling like hot buttered toast with plum jam. That seemed a bit far-fetched to me but I spoke to one of the judges who sat during his presentation and he said it felt exactly like that! My tactile descriptions were that it coated your teeth like olive oil, was light like and Aero bar and stuck to the roof of your mouth like peanut butter. In both rounds I scored well on tactile so it must have worked!

Finding a good competition coffee is hard. It needs to have some clear flavours but it also needs to be flexible. What I mean by this is that it should taste of your descriptions if you serve it with a slight change in any given variable. For example, if you want to serve an espresso that extracted in 25 seconds but on the day you accidentally serve one that took a little longer (trust me - it is hard to focus on every little detail on the day!) your coffee should be able to deal with that slight adjustment in recipe. I tasted a lot of samples that our main roasters - Has Bean - sent us at Brew Lab. I settled on a coffee from a farm in Bolivia called Canton Uyunese. It was of the Typica variety so was bound to be very sweet. It had at least three clear flavours and tasted wonderful with milk. I’m not much of a milk drinker but I found myself finishing the Cappuccino every time I tasted it!

The next challenge was coming up with a signature drink. I wanted to focus on the coffee's acidity for my drink - it was complex but very soft. My plan was to exaggerate what acids I tasted in the cup and so I diluted 0.33g malic, 0.33g tannic and 0.1g citric acid in water and then a few teaspoonfuls of a sweet liquid malt extract in order to firstly balance the acid out, but also to serve as a nod to the sweetness of the Typica variety. I poured a dash of that solution onto the coffee and served it in a small whisky snifter that I got ahold of at Highland Park in Orkney (as well as coffee, whisky is a weakness of mine!).

As for the presentation - it is normally my strong suit and I scored very well at this in the first round. For whatever reason, I let the pressure get to me a little for the semi-final and I was a bit nervous. Normally I can bluff my way through it but my shaky hands gave the game away to the judges! It’s very hard to stay focused with cameras, a big crowd and very hot stage lights and in the end, I gave a presentation that felt a little under par.

My goal at the start of the process was to reach the semi-finals, which I managed to do. My revised goal for the next round was to reach the final, which sadly I didn’t quite manage on the day. Tenth in the UK is still a good effort and I’m very happy to have been able to represent Brew Lab and Scotland in such a good light. The eventual winner was Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood from Colonna and Smalls in Bath. He is one of the most passionate baristas I have ever met and an ideal representative for the UK coffee community when he goes to the World Championships in Rimini later this year.

Photos and video from the semi-final will go up online in the near future and I will post them on my Twitter feed when they do.

Brazil Fazenda Ambiental Fortazela & Ethiopia Workye Shallo

drop coffee

We have two exciting new coffees on this week from Drop Coffee in Stockholm. Drop Coffee were established in 2007 and have been roasting some really incredible coffee ever since then. I visited their roastery and cafe in Stockholm last year and was very impressed with their meticulous approach to every aspect of coffee preparation. We are delighted to be working with them and hope our customers enjoy these coffees as much as we have.  Brazil Fazenda Ambiental Fortazela

Country of origin: Brazil Region: Mt. Mogiana Producer: Barretto family Varieties: Obata Process: Natural Brewing method: Espresso

Over the last few years, the farmers at Fazenda Ambiental Fortalexa have started to work with raised beds, where the coffee can dry in a thinner layer. This allows for a more even and quicker drying process in the first five days, before the coffee is moved to a patio for a slower drying process. This helps to avoid the overly “funky” and slightly fermented taste endemic in a lot of naturally processed coffees.

This coffee is of the Obata varietal, and this varietal has developed a resistance towards the devastating plant disease – leaf rust - that has ravaged so many farms in recent years. This varietal is – genetically speaking – 95% Arabica, and 5% Robusta. Although Robusta is something of a sacrilegious word to many speciality coffee professionals, this varietal displays an impressively dense body and a delicate tangerine acidity when roasted by talented roasting teams like the one at Drop Coffee.

This coffee displays strong aromas of strawberries and hazelnut, and has a creamy mouthfeel and medium body. It has an intense toffee sweetness and a lovely strawberry acidity.

workye shallow

Ethiopia Workye Shallo

Country of origin: Ethiopia Region: Devo, Yirgacheffe Varieties:Mixed Heirloom Process: Washed Brewing method: Kalita Wave

This coffee is a great example of a sustainable cooperation between coffee roasters and individual farmers that is inherently focused on the goal of achieving high quality coffee. This coffee has been produced under the One Farmer, One Roaster project pioneered by Nordic approach. Under this project, farmers in Yirgacheffe are able to produce, sell and export their coffees as single estate coffees. The project has allowed farmers to invest in micro mills, meaning they no longer have to send their cherries to the cooperatives in Yirgacheffe, where they would normally be pulped along with hundreds of other farms produce. This has resulted in a closer focus on picking, ripeness, processing and drying, all of which can be tasted in the complexity and elegance of this coffee.

Drop Coffee visited Workye in October last year, taking part in a ceremony where they handed over the extra dollar per kilo of Workye's coffee that they had bought during the year. The One Farmer, One Roaster project is a very exciting one as it has the potential to change the way speciality coffee in Ethiopia is produced and sold.

This coffee has aromas of black tea and peach, with a soft apricot acidity and delicate notes of bergamot and hibiscus.


New coffee: Costa Rica Los Manantiales & Ethiopia Kebel Kercha Guji


Two amazing new coffees on the brew bar this week. Mark has written a blog post to tell you all about them: Costa Rica Los Manantiales Honey Process

Country of origin: Costa Rica Region: Tarrazu Producer: Esnider Rodriguez Varieties: Villa Sarchi Process: Yellow Honey Process Brewing method: v60

This coffee comes from The Barn roastery in Berlin and we are very excited to have it on our brew bar. The Barn roastery opened in September 2012 and is run by Ralf Ruller. With a meticulous focus on sustainability, traceability and quality, the Barn has quickly become one of the most revered coffee roasters in Europe.

The Barn use a 1955 Probat Roast machine that has been overhauled with direct engines, a large cooling tray and an environmentally friendly natural air filtration system.

The Los Manantiales is a reference to the many springs that are located on the farm that has been run by Esnider Rodriguez for over 20 years. The farm is only 14 hectares in size, allowing Esnider and his sister to focus on producing coffee of an amazing quality. This coffee is grown at an altitude of 1700 metres under perfect farming conditions and an enviable climate.

This coffee has been honey processed, with perfectly ripe coffee cherries being pulped and the mucilage left on. The honey process uses no water and is thus a very environmentally friendly processing method.

The Barn have a rather light roast style that really allows the Los Manantiales to shine. We find this coffee has a lot of flavour clarity and a syrupy sweetness, with notes of honey covered nuts.

Ethiopia Kebel Kercha Guji Natural

Country of origin: Ethiopia Region: Sidamo Processing station: Kebal Kercha Varieties: Typica and heirloom varietals Process: Natural process and sundried Brewing method: Chemex

This was one of our favourite coffees from last year and this years roast from Has Bean has surpassed our expectations. While last years Kebal Kercha Guji Natural was intensely funky and a bit polarising for some customers, this years roast tastes cleaner and more well rounded. It has a sherbet like mouthfeel and an intense sweetness, with very clear notes of blueberry both on the nose and the palette.

This coffee is grown in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia at an altitude of 1900 – 2100 metres above sea level. The natural process is done by selecting the ripest cherries, drying them on raised beds for 6-8 weeks until the cherry is completely dried. It is then removed and shipped as parchment to the ECX (Ethiopian Commodity Exchange).

This coffee is a real favourite amongst the staff here at BrewLab and we hope that our customers enjoy it as much as we do.

Brew Lab & BBC@Potterrow

BBC Festival logo

We're fast approaching our first Edinburgh Festival and we have some very exciting news that we will be running a pop-up coffee bar at the BBC@Potterrow venue throughout August.

We'll be opening up on the 2nd August in a wooden chalet decked out with a 3 group Slayer Espresso Machine and pulling our custom house blend from Has Bean. We'll also have a Marco Filtro Shuttle there to serve amazing single origin filter coffee, fast.

As well as serving delicious Has Bean coffee, we'll have tea from Jon at Pekoe Tea, amazing tray bakes from our friends at Lovecrumbs, pastries from Le Petit Francais and porridge from the guys at Stoats.

We look forward to seeing you at Venue 25 in August for a coffee.

New coffee: El Salvador Finca San Cayetano, Kenya Thunguri AA & Sumatra Wahana Natural

el salv kenya

We have lots of tasty coffee in at the moment for Edinburgh. El Salvador, Finca San Cayetano, Natural, Bourbon  Country of origin: El Salvador Region: Santa Ana Farm: Finca San Cayetano Varieties: Bourbon Process: Natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: V60 Tasting notes: rum & rasin, blueberry, sherry

Bourbon is a traditional variety of El Salvador and is characterised by a very sweet profile. When combined with natural processing, like this example, we get a really interesting coffee. There is lots of rum and raisin and booziness from this coffee, while still having a good amount of chocolaty body.

The farm is owned by Rafael Silva who also owns Finca La Fany - a farm one of our first coffees came from.

Kenya, Thunguri AA, SL-28 SL-34, Washed   Country of origin: Kenya Region: Nyeri Producer: Rumukia Co-op Society Members Varieties: SL-28, SL-34 Process: Washed Roaster: Workshop Coffee Co Brewing method: Chemex Tasting notes: blackberry, vanilla, stone fruit

Our second Kenyan from Workshop, and fourth of the year so far - this is everything you'd expect from a traditional Kenyan coffee - lots of blackberry and a stone fruit acidity. The coffee comes from the Thunguri factory, which is owned by the Rumukia Co-op, comprising of over 800 members with on average 100 trees each. The farmers deliver their coffee to the Thunguri factory where it is processed with the usual high attention to detail of Kenyan coffees.

Once the coffee has been processed at Thunguri, it is shipped off to Nairobi to be sold, then to a dry mill for the removal of the parchment. At every step of its journey, the coffee is sorted for quality, ensuring this lot that Workshop attained, is the very best.


Sumatra, Wahana, Lington, Natural, Rasuna    Country of origin: Sumatra Region: Desa Lee Mungkerr Farm: Wahana Coffee Estate Varieties: Rasuna Process: Natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Slayer Espresso Machine Tasting notes: dark chocolate, chilli, sherry

We're having a bit of a natural coffee fest at Brew Lab at the moment, and this coffee completes it. Its the first Sumatran we've had in a Brew Lab. In the past we have steered away from them due to fact that they traditionally have a very dark, leathery flavour, and are not the highest quality. This example is completely different however.

The Wahana Estate has a number of new coffee growing practices to ensure the high quality of their yield: only organic fertilisers are used, and the area around the farm has been a designated a conservation area. The farm also has a housing scheme and medical clinic for all its workers.

We have this coffee on the second grinder as a single-origin espresso and its crazy: we get dark chocolate with chilli and black pepper.

Brew Lab invades The Hanging Bat

Hanging Bat

Because nothing makes us as happy as beer and coffee, on Sunday 30th we'll be heading over to (invading?) our good pals The Hanging Bat to do a coffee and beer tasting afternoon. The aim: to foster inter-awareness of coffee and beer and to show the sheer variety of different styles, and the hugely different tastes that these styles exhibit.

We'll be kicking off with a tutored cupping of 5 contrasting Has Bean coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, El Salvador, Brazil and Sumatra, and we'll be challenging your tastebuds to match up tasting notes to the correct coffees. You'll learn about how coffee is produced in each country, and why different production and processing methods make such significant differences to the coffees flavour profile.

Next up, The Hanging Bat will be providing a tasty lunch from their kitchen to prime you ready for the beer tasting: 5 contrasting styles that exhibit the best craft beer has to offer.

Finally we'll all be getting together to brew a really special beer. We'll be using cascara, the highly caffeinated dried fruit of the coffee cherry to brew up something that, to our knowledge has never been done before: a cascara beer.

If you'd like to be involved, tickets are available here.


New coffee: Kenya, Kirimahiga, Washed AA


Kenya Kirimahiga Washed AACountry of origin: Kenya Region: Central Kenya Farm: New Kiriti - Kirimahiga Farmers co-operative society Varieties: Ruiru 11/ SL 32 & SL 28 Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Chemex Tasting notes: blackcurrant, creamy mouth-feel, red wine acidity

This is the second Kenyan of the year from Has Bean, and its a bit more of what you would expect from a Kenyan coffee compared to the Gachami we had on last: lots of blackcurrant and red wine notes that come from the SL 28 variety.

Kirimahiga is a washing station that is based within the New Kiriti farmers coop. The coop was started in 1987 and currently has 780 members who all elect a chairman. The coop is heavily involved with the Coffee Transparency initiative which aims to treat workers and suppliers ethically and fairly, protect the environment and promote economic transparency.

The coffee features the Ruiru 11, SL 28 and SL 32 varietals. SL 28 and SL 32 were developed in the Kenyan Scott Labs in the 1930s and are characterised by a lovely blackcurrant acidity. Despite having positive flavour characteristics, SL 28 & SL 32 are very prone to Coffee Borer Disease & Coffee Leaf Rust, and Kenya has a big problem with crops being wiped out by these diseases. Ruiru 11 was developed in the 80s to cross the 'flavour-positive' but disease susceptible SL 28 variety with the disease resistance of the Robusta strain, while also being significantly higher yielding. The problem with higher yielding crops is that the flavour characteristics in the fruit are in effect, spread too thinly. There have been complaints from Kenyan farmers that the Ruiru 11 variety does not produce as good a flavour as the SL 28 variety, but evidently this is down to the crops not being pruned aggressively enough. The more the plant is pruned, the less fruit is produced and the more flavour there is in the fruit.

Kenya Kirimahiga

Ruiru 11 has also been developed to grow in a much higher density of plants. The variety can be planted at a density of 2500-3000 trees per hector, whereas traditional varieties like SL 28 can only be planted at 1500 trees per hector.

Thanks to Steve Leighton from Has Bean for sharing his wisdom about Ruiru 11. If you're interested in reading more about Ruiru 11, check out this article on Coffee Review.


New coffee: Colombia, La Serrania, Washed

Serrania Huila

Colombia, La Serrania, Washed Country of origin: Colombia Region: Huila Farm: Various small farmers Varieties: 75% Caturra, 25% Colombia Process: Washed Roaster: Square Mile Brewing method: V60 Tasting notes: ripe peach, raspberry acidity, silky mouth-feel

La Serrania is the name given to the coffee by Virmax, the exporters that Square Mile bought this coffee through. The coffee is one of the components of Square Mile's Red Brick espresso blend, but it turns out it works really well as a filter. It is from the same region that La Buitrera, a Colombian we had on recently from Square Mile was from and exhibits similar flavour characteristics. We're getting ripe peach, a raspberry acidity and a very silky mouth-feel.