Duncan's blog

June 15, 2013

Brew Lab Artisan Coffee Bar

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 8:57 am
Tags: , , , ,
Brew Lab

Brew Lab is a relatively new (well new to me anyway – they opened in September 2012) coffee shop on South College Street in Edinburgh, an area already well-provided for with neighbours like Black Medicine and The Elephant House as well as the usual chains.  So what if anything sets Brew Lab apart?

It was quite spacious inside, and seems to have been made by knocking together two adjoining small shops.  In fact it used to be the University of Edinburgh’s disability office.  The whole place had a ramshackle decor, if you could call it that.  Exposed brickwork, partially-stripped back layers of paint and really old floral wallpaper.  Temporary lighting hung from the ceiling.

It gave me the feeling as if they were still in the middle of the conversion, and had decided to open early.  Except that’s not the plan at all, I’m sure, but rather to give it a lived-in look for some hipster chic.  I’ve seen similar styles at places like Freestate, but Brew Lab pushes that look further than anywhere else.

Brew LabBy contrast, the toilets were pristine and modern, almost comically different from the main cafe. Probably a good idea; you don’t necessarily want that shabby rough-around-the-edges look in there.

There was a variety of seating – sofas, benches, individual tables and stools.  Both my visits were at the weekend, and it wasn’t a problem getting a seat.  Possibly busier during the week.  Plenty of free newspapers on hand.

My first visit I had a decent ham + cheese baguette (better than my bland description – I don’t remember the details of its ingredients).  The second day I went I had a really delicious soup, a Portuguese Caldo Verde – chorizo and kale.

I quickly decided this is my all-time favourite coffee shop, after just the first visit!  The second visit confirmed my initial suspicions, thanks to the soup (and coffee obviously) and their playlist of the likes of Will Oldham, Lambchop and Stephen Malkmus.

Caffe Latte

The staff were friendly and professional.  Their coffees were well made and delicious, and they seemed to have a good range of options for types of coffee and brew method.  Indeed behind the counter they presented them as a periodic table of coffees available by each method (and ‘anti-coffee’ options!).

Much of the above you could find in many other coffee shops, but there was something else that marked it out for me.  It’s hard to quantify, but a general ambience about the place.  That could easily tempt you to quit your job, move to Edinburgh to work as a freelancer, and permanently station yourself here, sipping flat whites and nibbling cake!

Caldo verdeBrew Lab periodic tableCaffe latte

Brew LabBrew LabBrew Lab

Brew Lab Artisan Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon


1 Comment »

  1. I’m glad you found Brew Labs. It’s one of my all-time favourites, although it’s got some pretty stiff competition in Edinburgh, which is undergoing something of a boom of great coffee shops. What I liked most of all about Brew Lab (other than the confusing menu) is the obvious passion that the staff have about the coffee they serve and the willingness to experiment both with the more traditional espresso-based drinks and less common brewing methods (eg V60 pour-overs and Clever drippers).


    Comment by briancoffeespot — June 16, 2013 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

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