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Lisa Lawson on how the Glasgow Coffee Festival 2020 will support local cafes

Lisa Lawson, founder of Dear Green Coffee Roasters and Glasgow Coffee Festival, talks to Gaby Soutar about this year's festival.

Published: October 12, 2020
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“I’m just glad the dalgona coffee thing was just a flash in the pan,” says Lisa Lawson, founder of Dear Green Coffee Roasters and Glasgow Coffee Festival, in reference to the horrible lockdown trend for a fluffy Korean drink made from instant coffee, sugar and milk.

Lawson is into the real stuff, as everyone should be, on the run up to UK Coffee Week (19-25 October). However, sadly, for those who love a proper espresso, this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, aka “Scotland’s biggest coffee party”, which launched back in 2014, has been postponed until May 2021.

Undeterred, Lawson has instead organised a Glasgow Coffee Festival of exclusive deals, discounts and products in 50 Glaswegian coffee shops, running from 16-25 October 2020.

(They’ll all be independent venues, so Starbucks pumpkin latte fans need not apply).

The offers might include free coffee with every food purchase, two for one coffees, exclusive products or free brews when you buy a bag of beans.

Many of these spaces will serve Dear Green Coffee, who have a roastery and training space in Glasgow’s East End, so you may even get to sample their wares.

Anything to encourage the support of local coffee shops, who have “begun to find a way to reopen,” says Lawson. Thankfully, unlike restaurants, most of them have also been allowed to continue trading, under current restrictions.

Tickets for the festival cost just £5 and also include access to online content, features and tastings. It’s sure to be popular, as is the usual function, and Lawson had already sold over 400 tickets before the event at The Briggait had to be cancelled.

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“But very few people wanted a refund, “ says Lawson, who is letting people use their tickets at this year’s events, as well as 2021’s festival. All the cafes involved will be following their strict covid protocol, with hand sanitisers and social distancing.

“We just want to encourage footfall in these cafes, and use the event to support businesses”.

She’s organising this event while struggling with Dear Green Coffee. In common with many other food and drink businesses, things are “precarious”.

However, one positive element has been the rise in online sales, spurred on by those working from home and, thus, making more of their own espresso.

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“Our online sales sky-rocketed by 1000 per cent at the start of lockdown,” she says. “It’s just trying to maintain the wholesale business now”.

So, apart from good beans, what should the amateur barista buy?

“Well, it’s budget dependent”, says Lawson, “but something like a burr grinder will change anyone’s coffee experience”.

And, if you are going out to support a Glasgow cafe, where does she suggest?

“My favourite coffee is always in my kitchen on a Saturday morning. However, if I had to give a Scottish shout out, it’d be to Us V Them at the Gallowgate, who opened during lockdown”.

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A version of this article first appeared on The Scotsman.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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