"..our scene could really warm the cockles" - Barista Wars #2

Myself and a group of likeminded coffee ‘so and so’s’ met up several times during the run up to this years Fringe Festival to discuss collaborating on some events. This of course isn’t new as we did the same last year, contributing within our respective walls to showcase a variety of cuppings. This year however was slightly more intentional. We had a motive, a purpose and a more unified and organised approach.

To develop a series of events that coffee professionals would actually want to go to.

 Nice mouthfeel - photo by Gav Smart

Nice mouthfeel - photo by Gav Smart

We had all gone through the motions of fatigue in previous years; of being up early serving flat whites and then with little break, tasting coffee all evening and having sincere conversations on how weather had affected the quality of processing for the producers. Don’t get me wrong, this is something that we are inherently passionate about, but sometimes you want to hang with friends who work in the same industry without the purpose solely being to discuss what you discuss all day with customers and colleagues.

I suspect the realisation for me that coffee events can be fun first and foremost (aside from the Aeropress Championships which is refreshingly lighthearted) was the ‘Aero-Piss Up’ that Cult Espresso hosted last year. Seeing a group of folk experiencing sheer enjoyment by taking the mick out of the product that they dedicate their working week to was utterly glorious. It’s unifying in a different sense and such a long way away from the industry that we entered back in 2014.

 An entrant at the original ‘Aero-Piss Up’ event at Cult Espresso.

An entrant at the original ‘Aero-Piss Up’ event at Cult Espresso.

Finally we understand that our chief goal is to make people (and ourselves hopefully) happy, and with that the sense of sincerity in ‘specialty coffee’ that we surrounded ourselves in kind of just dissolved. Now we look for new and exciting ways to push our business in a way that is inclusive and fun, not stuffy and elitist.

This jumble of thoughts and feelings came together when we launched the first Barista Wars at the end of the Edinburgh Coffee Fringe events. Fancy dress, beer, loud music, even a judging panel from Glasgow! And the best part? The coffee elements which were once a drag and slowed down the aforementioned frivolity, were now exciting, engaging and even hilarious. There was a sense of camaraderie and joy about ‘our scene’ that could really warm the cockles!

 Edinburgh Barista Wars Champion Team 2018 - photo by Gav Smart

Edinburgh Barista Wars Champion Team 2018 - photo by Gav Smart

Straight away we realised that this was definitely what events should be like and our desire to keep the ball rolling was palpable. The success of introducing Glasgow legends Todd and Courtney from The Good Coffee Cartel to the previous judging panel had quenched their thirst for a similar event in their digs on the west side. Having shared a pint to discuss the details, we had the makings of a second Barista Wars event - Halloween edition.

I genuinely can’t wait until this takes place next week, and the amount of baristas I know who have expressed interest to make the journey though from Edinburgh to share it with their counterparts is heart warming. Make sure you don’t miss out!


There will be different heats of varying ridiculousness for teams of three to complete, beer, compulsory fancy dress with prizes, and generally just the best atmosphere. Bonus points too in that it’s the Good Coffee Cartel’s 1st Birthday. Don’t miss out and support your thriving scene by registering your trio at https://tinyurl.com/yax5rywg

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- Robi Lambie