People who live or work in the West End tell us about their livelihoods. Heather Suttie caught up with an ambitious barista at the forefront of Glasgow's cafe culture
When did you start loving coffee? I got into coffee in my first part time job at a popular high street chain, but it wasn’t until I discovered speciality coffee that I found myself absolutely intrigued by all the equipment and high-grade coffee. That’s when I started my quest to learn as much as possible about coffee and the industry.
What training have you had? Just basic training from cafe to cafe. Everything I’ve actually retained I’ve either debunked or expanded upon from many different books, videos and conversations. From coffee history and different origins to knowledge about bean varietals and processing methods.
Where have you worked? Café Monza in Partick is an independent cafe focused on community and friendly hospitality. Perch & Rest on Otago Street is where I really upped my game. Now I’m working with Dear Green by the Barras, where I’m learning more about coffee roasting and production. It's early days but I hope to dip my toe in all areas here.
What do you love about the industry? Community is everything. It's filled to the brim with passion. People share their knowledge and skills and we all want each other to do the best. Even competitors collaborate, and I love the opportunities that arise from a simple DM on Instagram.
How big is coffee in the city? Glasgow has a massive coffee scene, with passionate baristas and roasters from the industry as well as a massive group of consumers and home baristas. I'm proud to say I've made good friends with many regular customers. We’re like a big group of pals in a really small niche area of the whole coffee community. Everyone knows everyone in a sense.
Community is everything. It's filled to the brim with passion. People share their knowledge and skills and we all want each other to do the best.
Does Glasgow have room for more coffee shops? It’s true there’s a lot of shops, but there’s always room for more. The bigger we can get together as a city, the more we can rival the likes of London and show the world that Glasgow knows good coffee.
Tell us about throw down events? We meet up, throw a dice with different patterns, and go head to head in rounds to see who can pour each roll the best. Sometimes we shake things up and use alternative milk or do the pour blindfolded etc. Afterwards, we crack open a few beers and eat some pizza and chat nonsense about coffee that a passer by would be bamboozled at.
What makes a great serve? A pour that is as close to a carbon copy as the design on the dice. Judges look for contrast, symmetry and centre placement in the cup.
What does it take to become a great barista?
It isn’t just about pouring silky milk and tasty coffee. It’s about being approachable and making a customer’s day every day. Without great hospitality, people won’t come back.
What’s the dream? I want to be the guy you go to for any help with coffee. Whether that be setting up a shop, training, advice on equipment, roasting, brewing, judging. I want to do it all.