At Civilian we place great stock in how easy it is to get a reliably excellent latte in a new city – or even a familiar one. In Glasgow, nostalgia has long kept us loyal to local institution Tinderbox, which also has branches in London, and whose approach to making coffee hasn’t changed in the fifteen-plus years they’ve been around. Other cafés – as distinct from coffee shops – try to look the part, but even new arrivals are heavily influenced by a very Glaswegian model dating back to the 1950s, when Italian expats opened “traditional caffes” and/or ice-cream parlours all over Scotland. (There’s a nod to this heritage in Tinderbox’s serving of their mocha in a sundae glass.) In these places, one whole wall will be given over to a mural of Florence or Venice, and the coffee will very definitely be a matter of quantity over quality.
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The coffee revolution sparked in London by the opening of Flat White in 2006, though, is finally having an effect on other cities. On Great Western Road, in the heart of Glasgow’s student-filled, well-heeled West End, the Papercup Coffee Company is bringing the good news: great lattes, time after time, in a very cool, international-looking space.
It’s no slur to say that you don’t feel like you’re in Glasgow here – that you could be anywhere in the world (a burst of unseasonably sunny weather when Civilian was in town bolstered this nice muddling). With its half-painted walls, trestle tables and bench seats seemingly in the process of being bolted to or uplifted from the floor, the room is nicely shambolic – though it opened in 2012, there’s a sense that they just lifted the shutters on Papercup for the first time the morning you walk in. There’s a fun mural (not depicting an Italian city) on one wall and Tame Impala playing on the stereo; colossal hessian sacks of coffee beans sag against the back wall, beside a spiffing chrome roaster the size of a small car, and there are shelves of coffee beans and esoteric coffee-making equipment for sale over the counter. In addition to selling their own branded coffees, Papercup stocks coffee beans from London’s Workshop Coffee and Square Mile.
Currently, food options are limited to sweet baked goods – pastries, cupcakes and Anzac biscuits – although the launch of a more substantial all-day food menu is planned for August 2013, to include contemporary brunch standards like baked eggs, brioche French toast, and ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter – although the emphasis will remain firmly on coffee. C
Papercup Coffee Company, 603 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 8HX