Day in the Life: Robi Lambie, founder of Edinburgh’s Cairngorm Coffee Roasters

They have two shops and a roastery in the capital

Published 27th Jan 2022
Updated 9 th Aug 2023


How my day starts is dictated by my son Jamie. His arrival during lockdown has improved the structure of my day somewhat, book-ending what can at times be a fairly erratic morning/afternoon. Keeping my mind on tasks that help him get ready ensures that I can have some headspace away from the business. Who needs meditation when you can focus on ensuring a child doesn’t climb onto a kitchen counter and put a bag of coffee in the microwave?


With Jamie off to nursery, I crack on. This will mean dropping by our shop in Edinburgh’s west end to drop off stock, pick up stock for the other shop, or, if I’m lucky, simply check in with staff and enjoy a batch brew. After flying by the other shop, I will now have a better gauge of the tasks that need to be completed. I use the drive to Leith to collect my thoughts while listening to a business podcast.


On roast days, I’ll try to arrive at the roastery in time to check in with the team before they turn our green coffee to brown. There are many tasks; a key one is to check inventory to evaluate what we need to source from our importers. This is a drawn-out process so I like to use my brain while it’s fresh and caffeinated. I’ll often schedule meetings for this time of day. Having lived through a pandemic I’m fully embracing video conferencing.


I rarely eat lunch as my mind has wandered on to firefighting the tasks that I scrawled onto my phone’s notes earlier. Over the next few hours, I respond to emails, discuss social media with our marketing gurus, strategise, resolve queries from the team on Slack, and try to remember that I’ve still got seven or so tasks to tick off from the list I set myself earlier. On a roast day, I also hope to taste every coffee as part of our quality control procedures. It’s important that I have an understanding of what is going on in all aspects of the business, and given that it all starts with the coffee we roast, I feel this is a valuable use of my time.


My wife has set a curfew of 6pm latest to help put my son to bed, something I look forward to. I almost always will swing by the shop in the west end to drop off the day’s roasts and fix something. One of the little pleasures I find in life is making myself useful, so even putting a picture up on the wall can feel like an achievement – a perfect way to end the working day.

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I spend some time with my son and put him to bed before making dinner with my wife and sitting at our breakfast bar which used to be a table at our shop on Frederick St. 


I go to bed super early. I’ll spend a brief moment moaning about how tired I am, that I have a sore back from carrying coffee sacks, or that Covid never ends, then I’ll go to sleep looking forward to doing it all again the following day.

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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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