Artisan Roast, 57 Broughton Street
I like to watch people in coffee shops, I find them enthralling. Normal people don’t seem to care too much about coffee, which generally speaking leads to an abundance of crazy folk getting their proverbial freak on about the place – highly entertaining. First comes Coffee-Shop-Girl. Everything is in place; old school iPod with Sennheiser headphones strewn across the table, paper pack of Lucky Strike complete with some South East Asian health warning tossed casually next her Burts Bees lip balm. When she isn’t chewing her pencil she is jotting notes in the margin of her weathered copy of Kafka (but of course), or twirling it in her tumbling curls. And the scarf, oh! the scarf. Silk hand woven, Bolivian masterpiece no doubt, encapsulating every shade of green. It billows around her delicate neck. She sips from her cup, quietly savouring what is undoubtedly the best coffee in town.
I think I have a crush on this girl, on everything she represents. Chilled, intellectual, beautiful, she is everything I want to be. She is not just some ordinary girl in a coffee shop, she is Coffee-Shop-Girl.
This is no ordinary coffee shop either, oh no. Artisan Roast, nestled in the centre of the Pink Triangle, is the supplier of premium fresh-roasted coffees to Scotland. Their bijou café on Broughton Street boasts a wide range of speciality teas, coffees and coco, all carefully prepared to make you all warm and fuzzy inside. The venue in itself is just perfect. There is no bar separating you from the barista, who is an old friend, and you; a guest in his kitchen. Watch the world go by on the high tops by window, read books about coffee from the shelf by the door, smoke outside on bar stools, or creep in the mooch lit by cafetiére lamps. You will find yourself spending hours here, time becomes arbitrary, coffee becomes heroin.
- Kilimanjaro – too busy.
- Wellington – too small.
- Peters Yard – too Scandinavian, takes too long.
- Forest – too cool for school, there’s only so many hipsters you can deal with in one day.
- Loopy Lorna’s – too many Ladies who Lunch.
- Urban Angel – too bad the staff are horrid.
- Black Medicine – “WHO ORDERED THE FLAT WHITE??”
- Police Box – How can they call that putrid mess coffee?
- Elephant House – too much creeping on J.K, I mean, CCTV? really?
As for Starbucks…… -oh, don’t get me started………
Starbucks is spreading across the world like a virus, infecting cultures with their homogenised formulas of what a coffee shop ‘should be’. Tainting JuJu with their predatory business practices and faux environmental/corporate responsibility not to mention viscously competitive attacks on small cafés; Starbucks still lure people in, day after day. Also, the coffee is repulsive.
If anyone thinks they know of a superior coffee shop in Edinburgh feel free to buy me a Long Black- no sugar and I might reconsider.
After getting over the departure of Coffee-Shop-girl (*whimper) in comes Eco-Warrior. I shit you not this guy was wearing bio-degradable flip-flops and it is pissing rain. He asks Niall about the most appropriate blend for his machine, but he might as well be asking which course of medical treatment would give his only son a better chance of survival. He is THAT passionate about coffee. Niall, the coffee aficionado, soothes his qualms with the perfect roast, and with his purchases safe from the downpour in his 100% Hemp man-bag, off he goes (probably to protest outside Starbucks).
Niall & Tod know their shit. When Little-Miss-Soccer-Mom approaches the counter to complain about the temperature of her soya milk latte, she is instantly given a concise breakdown of the nature of her dairy alternative and just how detrimental the result would be if they were to scald it as she desires. Ego bruised by the baristas charm and intellect she returns to her perch, no doubt thinking she should have stayed in Morningside where it is the waitress’ job to take crap from ladies who lunch.
After that wench of a woman leaves, Mr. Business enters, very dapper. Nice suit, briefcase, pointy shoes, drowning in Apple products. It was the Moleskin that caught my eye, this guy knows his stationary. It seems odd that he is here in this quirky place, he looks like he belongs somewhere more… accessible, more generic. It is not until I leave (my companion has grown irritated at my fascination with everything other than his conversation) that I notice he is not jotting down the minutes of his last meeting but in fact drawing what can only be described as a Quentin Tarantino style violent comic strip. Touché.
After blatantly labelling every customer into the most ignorant of stereotypes, I finally understand why the variety of clietéle is such. I’ve seen tramp stamps and dreadlocks and tripped over buggys, men suited and booted and hipsters and grannys. They all queue patiently for their own little cup of juju. While wealth divides, occupations control and fashion defines; coffee seems to unite us, and damn good coffee it is.