Coffee Around the Globe: What to Know About Specialty Coffee in Glasgow


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If you are planning a trip to Scotland, it’s likely you have set aside time to explore and enjoy the city of Glasgow. It is a place of great charm and has tons of attractions, which is why it is such a popular destination for visitors. Of all the places in the country, this one is sure to leave an impression on you long after you head back home. This city is unique and has its own banter and culture, which means having a few tips before visiting can be useful. We’ll share some of those below.

As a coffee lover who is traveling to Glasgow, you probably want to know where the best spots are to enjoy a cup of joe. There are many great coffee houses littering the city, but picking one at random can end up with disappointment. That’s why we’ll share exactly which spots you should check out while in town to get a macchiato or espresso shot made just the way you like it. We’ll look at small shops, larger chains, and all the best specialty coffee the eye can see in the largest city in Scotland.

First, we want to offer you a few tips for your travels through Scotland. We will also look at some of the destinations that you shouldn’t miss while spending time in the city. After that, we’ll go over the top spots to get your caffeine fix in the morning, afternoon, or even the middle of the night. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be prepared to plan your trip and spend time in one of the most exciting cities in Scotland and Europe as a whole.

What to Know About Visiting Glasgow, Scotland 

So, you’re ready to start planning so you can get packing and end up in Scotland in the shortest time possible? We have all the information you need to fit right in like you’ve lived in Glasgow for years. We’ll share how to get around, where to stay, what you need to see, and much more.

Options for Getting Around the City

 One of the first things you should know is that flying into Glasgow or Edinburgh can work for you. Glasgow can be reached in less than an hour from the Edinburgh airport. Those who want to save extra money can take the 77 bus from the airport into the city, especially if you are staying in the West End.

There is a lot of public transport available and it can get confusing quickly. You’ll find local train services, the Clockwork Orange subway, other subways, and a selection of buses that you can use to get around the city. Keep in mind that each of these options has a different price tag and tickets usually don’t transfer from one service to the next.

Those who want to get physical while traveling can rent a city bicycle. Most of the city is also walkable, especially if you happen to be in the West End and Merchant City. Don’t be afraid to stretch your legs to get wherever you’re going.

If you are taking a taxi, a private one is less expensive than a black cab. You’ll have to call to hire one of them and it might be a wait during peak hours, but it can save money if that matters to you.

Places to Stay in Glasgow

 If you are staying in a guest house or hotel, most of them are concentrated around the West End and city center, which both are great options for starting your explorations of the city. There are hotels for every budget and taste, so don’t be afraid to do a bit of research to find what you’re looking for.

Those who want to use Airbnb will want to concentrate their searches to the city center, the West End, Dennistoun in the East End, or the Southside. Make sure that you are somewhere that is close to a train or subway station, as they can often be more convenient than taking the bus.

The Best City Tours

 If you prefer to walk a tour on your own rather than being guided from location to location, the Mural Trail is a fantastic option. You’ll get to check out the most amazing murals in the city while taking in various neighborhoods to get a real look at Glasgow and all it has to offer.

Want to see the main tourist attractions? Jump on one of the city sightseeing buses that are spread around the city. You can get on and get off wherever you like if you see something that interest you. This is a great option if you are only spending a short amount of time in the city.

As far as guided tours go, the Glasgow Central Tour is a lot of fun. It might sound a bit strange, but you can learn about the history of the train station, which is a lot more interesting than you might think.

Other tours to try include the Friends of Glasgow Cathedral tours, tours of the city chambers, and the women’s heritage tours by the Glasgow Women’s Library. There are also many other unusual tours if you’re looking for something different.

Attractions and Sightseeing Options

 Those who are looking at travel guidebooks may find that only the West End and city center are mentioned, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to see elsewhere. Those who want a better look at the authentic city will want to spend time in the East End and Southside.

Are you going on the cathedral tour? Take time to visit Provand’s Lordship and St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art right across the street. The best part is that you can enter both for free, which is true for many other museums and attractions in the city. If you go behind the cathedral, you can visit the Necropolis for a bit more of a morbid attraction. The cemetery itself is eye-catching, but the hilltop views are what really make this spot worth visiting.

Another great spot for taking in the view is from one top of the Lighthouse, located in the city center. You can go up for free, but you will have to climb the stairs to get up there. You can also take in the views from Queen’s Park in the Southside. You can take in the northern hills and the peaks of the Highlands.

While you may have heard about the Duke of Wellington statue, and should visit it at least once, you may also want to visit the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art which is located just behind it. Or head west to visit the University of Glasgow’s popular campus.

As far as the West End goes, the Botanical Garden is a fantastic option. However, there are many green spaces in Glasgow. Kelvingrove Park is right outside of the university and the Art Gallery is just as beautiful outside as it is inside.

The Riverside Museum is located on the banks of the River Clyde and was designed by the architect Zaha Hadid. This is a hands-on museum that looks at the history of the city in terms of transport. The Tall Ship is located right outside and can also be visited. If nothing else, a cycle ride or stroll along the River Clyde is a must to see all the outstanding bridges.

Another park that is well worth seeking out is Glasgow Green in the East End. This is the oldest park in the entire city. At the middle of the park, you will find a museum dedicated to the people of Glasgow, People’s Palace, along with a greenhouse café. If you happen to stop in on a Sunday, head even further into East End to explore the Barras market.

Enjoying the Local Scottish Cuisine

 Are you a seafood lover? You’re going to love Glasgow. Make sure to set aside time in your schedule for fish tea. This is similar to afternoon tea but rather than cakes and sandwiches with your food, chips and fish are on offer.

If you want to have a taste of German cuisine in Scotland, you need to be sure you spend time at West Brewery. The food and beer are some of the best in the city, even if they aren’t traditionally Scottish. This spot is right next to the People’s Palace, so stop in while you are in the area.

Finnieston is one of the top neighborhoods in the city and it also happens to offer amazing food. There are restaurants all over Argyle Street serving global cuisines like Cailin’s Sushi, Ox & Finch, Ashoka, and Mother India. If you happen to be vegan, the 78 is going to be your favorite meal spot while in Glasgow. Elsewhere in the West End, you can visit Brel, Hanoi Bike Shop, and Ubiquitous Chip.

There are also many great brunch destinations in this area, especially around Great Western Road. Try Tapa, Roots & Fruits, and Papercup. V&V is a vegan brunch restaurant while the Hug & the Pint offers a larger vegan menu for those with a special diet.

The Southside is another location with plenty of places to nosh. Take a walk down Pollokshaws Road for some of the best options. Breakfast, lunch, and brunch can be had at Café Strange Brew, Gusto & Relish, the Glad Café, and Tapa. For authentic Indian food, try Ranjit’s Kitchen for food that you will be thinking about long after your plate is empty.

Music and Nightlife in Glasgow 

If you’re feeling social and want to meet some of the locals, all you have to do is show up at one of the local pubs. You can expect someone to chat you up. However, if you want time to yourself, people are okay with that too.

Those who want to have a number of drinks while exploring can take part in a Subcrawl, which is a pub crawl using the city subway. You can stop at any of the 15 stations and enjoy a pub or two at each stop. The best spots to end the night include the city center, Hillhead, and Kelvinbridge, each of which has many bars you can choose from.

Want to take in some music in a cool space in the city? Try heading to Oran Mor, Barrowland Ballroom, Nize’n’Sleazy, King Tut’s, or Saint Luke’s. For those who prefer live music that is free, try Maggie Mays, the Butterfly & the Pig, MacSorleys, or Blackfriars. For those who prefer meeting musicians, as opposed to watching them perform, your best bet is State Bar.

Those looking for great pubs in the area can’t go wrong with the Rum Shack or the Allison Arms. The latter has a mixed crowd and a local feel while the former has a beautiful beer garden. You can also visit Argyle Street in the West End or Finnieston for pubs like Lebowskis, the 78, Ben Nevis, or Distill.

Are you a dog lover? You want to make your destination the Belle, which is located on Great Western Street. It offers free wireless Internet, brings in a mixed crowd, and is dog-friendly. There’s almost always a four-legged pet around for you to meet.

Extra Things to Know When Visiting the City 

If you’re going to be relying on free wireless Internet, you won’t have an issue in Glasgow. While cafes and bars offer it, so do many other places. There are free connections in the city center as well as on many buses, at some train stations, and in certain subway stations.

Those who are not used to the Glaswegian accent may have trouble understanding what people are saying, even if you do well with the general Scottish accent. Relax and don’t be afraid to ask people to talk more slowly or repeat what they just said if you get a little confused.

If you need direction or a bit of advice, you shouldn’t be nervous to ask the locals. Most of the people in the city are very friendly and would be more than happy to help you out however you need.

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Top Attractions to Check Out 

The great thing about Glasgow is that it is never boring, there is always something to do. With dozens of attractions to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide what to see first. We wanted to go over a few of the most awe-inspiring attractions to add to your to-do list while you are in the city.

Provand’s Lordship 

This location was constructed in 1471 and was first part of St. Nicholas’ Hospital. Many clergy members of the cathedral lived here, and it is the oldest home found in the entire city. It also is one of few medieval buildings still surviving in the city. It was restored and has furnishings that represent the 1500s through 1700s along with many 17th century pieces of Scottish furniture donated by Sir William Burrell. If you decide to stop in, make sure to visit St. Nicholas Garden. This is a free attraction and is only a two-minute walk from Glasgow Cathedral.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum 

If you want to enjoy a museum while in town, this one is a good spot to take yourself. It has one of the largest collections of objects and art in all of Scotland. The museum has well over 20 themed galleries offering the chance to see everything from medieval armor to spitfire planes and Impressionist paintings. It’s a huge, free museum and one of the most visited in the city. It’s not hard to spend hours here perusing all the galleries.

Celtic Park Stadium 

This is a football stadium that is found in Glasgow’s Parkhead neighborhood. It’s also home to the Celtic Football Club which has been around since 1887. This is the largest soccer stadium in the country and often hosts other events including the Commonwealth Games opening and large concerts. If you’re around locals, you’ll see the stadium referred to as Parkhead or Paradise. Those who enjoy football but can buy tickets to watch a game or there are guided tours that tourists can take part in.

Glasgow City Chambers 

The city chambers is a large Victorian building that takes up most of the east side of George Square. It has been a government building since 1889 and is now the Glasgow City Council headquarters. The building is great to take in from outside, but there are also free tours you can take of the inside. This gives you a chance to take in the ceilings covered in mosaics, the staircases made of marble, and accents of mahogany paneling. The tours are free and offered during weekdays but are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, so get there early!

The Best Locations for a Caffeine Fix in Glasgow 

When thinking about coffee in Glasgow, there is tons of specialty brew to enjoy. As many of you prefer that kind of coffee, our list of the best cafes and coffee shops is going to focus on the unique destinations to grab a latte or a cappuccino. We’ll let you know where to get the best coffee and what extra features you can expect depending on where you visit.

It All Started Here – 75 Deanston Drive 

This is a Southside location that is owned by William Heenan, who is a major coffee aficionado, an extremely knowledgeable about all things coffee. This coffee shop is only open from Tuesday through Sunday, so skip this spot if you need coffee on Monday. Otherwise, it’s a great place to drop in at. Not only does the location often get praised for its high-quality espresso, but they also offer a selection of tasty baked goods made in house. The owner rotates the coffees among major roasters in Europe so you can try something new each time you step inside.

Laboratorio Espresso – 93 W Nile Street 

This little espresso bar is a bit different from most of the others you will find in Glasgow’s city center. Both the coffee offered at this location as well as the design of the shop itself are something you need to experience to appreciate. If you’re an outdoor lover, you’ll be happy to find that most of the seats are outside. It also happens to be taller than it is wide. The inside has a combination of wood and concrete that you won’t find elsewhere in Glasgow. Expect to come across famous European coffee beans in filter and espresso, including Five Elephant, Barn, La Cabra, and more.

Kaf Coffee – 5 Hyndland Street 

If what matters to you is the coffee, rather than a huge space, Kaf Coffee is an excellent choice. The spot is small but neat and offers lots of great light. This is a multi-roastery located right in the Partick area and has a very Scandinavian style. Sure, the coffee is some of the best in town, but that’s not all that this little spot offers. It has some of the most amazing sweets you will find. The brownies are exceptional and if you’re hungry, the Scandi plate is a great choice with plenty of food to fill you up.

Papercup Coffee Company – 603 Great Western Road / 12 Belmont Lane

 If you were to ask random people on the streets of Glasgow where to get the best specialty coffee in town, you could expect to hear the name Papercup over and over again. It’s one of the most famous coffee shops in the entire city. Because it is so popular, it can sometimes be hard to get a seat. However, if you make it, you can try the café roast and add breakfast to the side. This café is known for the beans as long as some of the best milky drinks in the city. Want to enjoy the coffee someone peaceful? Visit the newer roastery location, which is hidden down a lane near the original coffee shop.

The Good Coffee Cartel – 12 Cornwall Street 

If you leave the city center in a subway and hop on at the Kinning Park stop, you can visit one of the best specialty coffee roasteries in the city. The owners, Todd and Courtney, consistently serve amazing coffee. If you are someone who wants to learn a bit more about the nuances of coffee while in Glasgow, this is one of the best spots to do so. The owners are always happy to have a chat with you and answer any of the questions you have.

Thompson’s Central Café – 253 Argyle Street 

This coffee house has a little bit of everything, but it also doesn’t skimp when it comes to offering you a great cup of joe. The space includes a coffee shop with seating for over 50, a bar, a pizza shop, and a training area for consumer and wholesale coffee lovers. This café is found under the arches by the Central Train Station and is the oldest coffee roastery in the entire city. This spot offers specialty coffee in small lots. If you want a cup of coffee while waiting for a train in the city, this is a great spot to grab something that tastes great.

The Black Pine Coffee – 518 Great Western Road 

The first thing you will see when stepping foot into the Black Pine Coffee is a neon sign proclaiming, “death before decaf,” over the tables. However, don’t let that make you think this is a snobby café that offers nothing but black coffee. You can get milk and sugar and decaf is available, too. The owner, Pete Duthie, is a friendly man who runs this quiet shop near Papercup. The name of the café comes from the owner’s love for mountains and trees. The spot is friendly and simple but offers outstanding coffee. If you want to relax and chill out instead of dealing with a lot of hubbub, this is a great alternative to the busier coffee houses around the area.

The Cran – 994 Argyle Street

 While this is a great spot for coffee, it’s also known for quality vegetarian and vegan food as well as delicious cakes. The coffee comes from the Good Coffee Cartel and is sure to get great as the owners have competed in the UK Barista Championships and worked in many of the top Glasgow coffee shops. The interior of this shop looks like the deck of a ship and is an homage to the history of the neighborhood where ships used to be built. In addition to fantastic coffee and food, this spot often hosts pop-up vendors and artists. This makes it a great place to find unique souvenirs and items to take home with you after you leave Scotland.

The Steamie – 1024 Argyle Street

 This is one of the nicest coffee shops you will find in Finnieston and well worth a trip to visit. They offer up a selection of their own roasts that are fantastic to try. The coffee shop is only a few feet from the Cran and offers a relaxed and chilled atmosphere. The space is compact and does not have a counter or bar that separates you from those who are making your drink. This makes the space a little different from a traditional café and makes it feel more like you’re with friends at your home having a latte. In fact, most people love it upon the first visit for this very reason.

Spitfire Espresso – 127 Candleriggs 

This café is run by Danny, who is originally from New Zealand. The Merchant City rock and roll destination is famous for its in-house made cold brew as well as the great bagels. It also has something special going on when compared to other Glasgow coffee houses because you can enjoy not only a coffee but also order a pint of craft beer. While this is something common when visiting the continental European countries, it isn’t something that is seen very often in the United Kingdom.

Tinderbox – 118 Ingram Street 

If you want to visit somewhere that has been around as long as the coffee revolution in Glasgow, Tinderbox is the best place to go. This is a family-owned spot with three different locations to choose from. However, the most welcoming of the bunch can be found on Ingram Street. You can head upstairs and sit down in a comfortable leather armchair while you sip on a drink. It’s totally unpretentious and has a great atmosphere but is really best known for the great coffee you can get every day at the café.

Artisan Roast – 15-17 Gibson Street

 No list of the best coffee in Glasgow could be made without a mention of Artisan Roast. This is another spot that has been around forever and is a staple of the neighborhood it is located in. The coffee shop workers buy beans directly from farmers, which means they are paid more for their work. The coffee beans are roasted right on site a number of times a week and then served in a no-frills way. This lets the coffee itself take the center stage so you can taste the nuances of the different beans.

McCune Smith – 3-5 Duke Street 

This shop is named after Dr. James McCune. He was an academic and abolitionist in the Enlightenment era who was the first African American to get a medical degree. After being refused at several different United States universities, he received a degree at the University of Glasgow. You can enjoy thinking about the history of the city while you have a great cup of coffee. However, the shop also serves great food so you may want to add on a panna cotta tart or a bramble if you’re a little hungry.

Offshore – 3 Gibson Street 

Those who are looking for a bohemian vibe will find that Offshore fits their needs. This is a large coffeehouse with beautiful views of the River Kelvin through floor-to-ceiling windows. It also happens to be a casual and relaxed spot with seating for about 50 people. This spot is popular for students looking to get in some study time. It’s a very laidback place that offers a dose of downtime after a long day spent busy and among the Glasgow crowd.

Pena – 5 Eton Lane 

Pena was originally a recording studio where bands like Snow Patrol made their music. However, this spot is now a quaint little coffee shop that the locals visit each day. The shop is very unique and has a feel that you aren’t going to find anywhere else in the city. There are two things that this particular coffee house is known for. The first is, of course, the great coffee. However, the other is a wide selection of toasties. Try the Nigella which comes with ricotta, white chocolate, raspberry, and almonds.

Jelly Hill – 195 Hyndland Road 

Another quirky spot for those in the know is Jelly Hill on Hyndland. It has lots of seating and many of the seating choices are carved out of wood. As you might expect from the name of this coffee house, there’s a giant bowl full of jelly beans located at the counter. Customers are welcome to grab a handful while heading out the door for a sweet treat with their caffeine fix. If you love sweet things and coffee, this might be a spot you want to visit each and every morning for the easy access to both.

Meadow Road Coffee – 579 Dumbarton Road 

Not everyone is aware of Meadow Road Coffee, but it is a classic among those who do. The café uses coffee beans from Dear Green Coffee Roasters and is located in Thornwood. It’s not the largest coffee house in Glasgow, but it offers up tasty and inexpensively priced specialty beverages for the neighborhood. If you stop in on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday morning, you can get a very cheap plain coffee. If you don’t mind spending a little more, the flat white from this shop is lauded.

The Glad Café – 1006A Pollokshaws Road 

Those who are spending time on the Southside will love the Glad Café, a classic that offers some of the best coffee in town along with fantastic food, amazing baked goods, and a selection of beer on tap. There is art on the walls that changes on a regular basis and the shop also offers frequent screenings of plays, films, and musical performances. The creative crowd makes this coffee house their home and it’s the perfect place to sip on a coffee and find a dose of creativity.

Wrapping Up 

Whether you are going on a business trip to Glasgow, spending time on vacation in Scotland, or going abroad for university, there’s plenty to see and do. For the coffee lovers among us, knowing where to go for the best beverages is a must. At this point, you should have options in every neighborhood so you can caffeinate no matter where the day takes you. Have a great time in Scotland and let us know which coffee spot is your favorite!

Bonus Questions

1. What is Glasgow, Scotland, famous for?

While Glasgow used to be a largely industrial city, it is now one of the cultural centers of Europe. It is the largest city in Scotland with a history in shipbuilding. Aside from London, Glasgow is the best shopping spot in Britain.

2. What food is Glasgow famous for?

There are numerous foods that you will find in Scotland that you may not find elsewhere. Some of the most well-known include haggis, neeps and tatties, Scottish salmon, porridge, bangers and mash, sticky toffee pudding, and fish supper.

3. What is the best area to stay in Glasgow?

Most people would say that central Glasgow is the best place to stay. This area includes Merchant City, the Financial District, and the Theater District. Other great neighborhoods include the West End, North West, East End, and South Glasgow.

4. What can you do in Glasgow alone?

There is no lack of exciting destinations to explore in the city, whether alone or with a group. Try visiting Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Science Centre, the Riverside Museum, Glasgow Tigers Speedway, or take in some shopping on Buchanan Street.

5. What is the best month to visit Scotland?

Most people enjoy visiting Scotland the most during spring and autumn. In spring, the temperatures start to warm up, although snow will be found in the Cairngorms and the Highlands. It gets the hottest in June, July, and August in the country.

6. Is tea popular in Scotland?

Lots of people drink tea in Scotland with the most popular being English Breakfast. This tea was invented in Scotland, despite what the name would have you believe. Scottish Breakfast is another popular black tea. It has a malty flavor and is often served with milk and sugar.

7. Is beer served warm in Scotland?

While in Scotland, you will want to order a lager if you want a cold beer. Drinkers in Britain believe beer is best appreciated at a warmer temperature. Beer is served at cellar temperature, which isn’t warm but also isn’t as cold as you might be used to.

8. How many languages are spoken in Scotland?

There are numerous languages spoken in the country, but 99% of the population speaks English and 30% speak Scots. Other languages spoken include Scottish Gaelic, Urdu, Punjabi, Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, Polish, German, French, and Spanish.

9. What is a full Scottish breakfast?

The full breakfast in Scotland consists of eggs, link sausage, back bacon, baked beans, buttered toast, and coffee or tea. You may also see Scottish dishes like Lorne sausage, Stornoway black pudding, tattie scones, and Ayrshire middle bacon.

10. Why is the unicorn a symbol of Scotland?

The unicorn was a symbol of both power and masculinity and innocence and purity in Celtic mythology. It is believed that the unicorn is associated with Scotland based on tales of chivalry and dominance.

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