North Berwick's best cafe, Steampunk, tells us about their makeover

Soon you’ll be able to sit in as well as take away

Published 23rd Jun 2021
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

Anyone who’s recently visited Steampunk in North Berwick for one of their excellent coffees, a pack of their own roast, cakes, or barista equipment, will have noticed that you can’t go indoors. The lengthy lockdown queue at the door remains, with a few benches outside.

However, they’re soon to properly re-open, with a brand new look.

“We’ve chosen a soft dark green for the wall behind our yellow espresso machine, painted the brickwork white and added lots of plants,” says Catherine Franks, owner of the seven-year-old cafe and roastery. “There are iron counter-tops, vintage copper light fittings and a wee copper sink for helping yourself to tap water. The crack which spans the concrete floor has been filled with gold, kintsugi style, and the old bike which was such a key feature on the back wall is being updated by Solas Neon into an art installation”.

The golden seam Pic: Medialiciously

The refurbishment of their double level space, which was once a joinery warehouse, means that they’ll have more room for seating downstairs, with seven tables, rather than just a couple. Also, although hopefully the heating won’t have to be cranked up at this time of year, they’ve kept the log burners, where their doggy guests dry themselves after a swim in the Forth.

The plan is to properly unveil this look with a sit-in service in mid-July, though customers may have already caught a glimpse of the space from the doorway, where their baristas hand over the flat whites and flapjacks. For now, they’re concentrating on final touches and their own range, which includes their Brazilian Fazenda Caxambu - “clean, sweet and smooth, tasting of creamy hazelnuts” - all in their familiar branded boxes with an abstract wave design.

“Lockdown, and the temporary cafe closure, has given us the space and time to consider our priorities”, says Franks. “The huge boom in online sales has allowed us to focus on roasting. As a result, we now have a much faster rotation of seasonal coffees on offer, with three available in the cafe every day and we’ve expanded our drinks menu with iced coffee options too. We are doing less in the way of savoury food so that our baristas can focus on crafting great coffees and talking with visitors”.

The yellow coffee machine Pic: Medialiciously

Once they reopen, there will be no table service. Guests will order at the bar, but there will also be seating there, so they can interact and it’s more of an experience, rather than just a sip and go affair. Unlike many anonymous city cafes, they foster a community feel at Steampunk and know all their regulars.

“We have a real mixture of customers and we want something to suit them all”, says Catherine. “We love it when wee Bertie comes in with his mum and dad every morning. There’s Kenny who visits with his trainee guide dog and likes to stand and chat with a barista; the couple with a dog, who would prefer a low table with floor space near the fire, or a day tripper from Edinburgh who wants to sit on a bar stool and soak in the atmosphere while planning their second and third coffee”.

Pic: Medialiciously

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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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