An Eyemouth coffee shop is set to join exalted company later this month as it joins the roster of top coffee roasters in Scotland.
Rialto, managed by husband and wife Michael and Ellyn Howes, has been selected to be part of the Scottish Indy Coffee Guide, which is the latest in a series showing there is more to having a cuppa in the high street than the usual chain outlets.
And Michael, originally from Spittal, Berwick, will be joining the highest profile names on the Scottish coffee scene when they come together in Glasgow later this month to celebrate the guide’s launch.
The first ever book of its kind for the region, The Scottish Indy Coffee Guide will be launching at South Block in Glasgow on February 23.
The guide includes reviews of 44 top coffee shops in Scotland (plus another 27 “More Good Cups” listings), which have been chosen to be in the guide by a committee of Scottish coffee experts, based on quality of coffee served, expertise, and the use of the highest quality beans.
“I knew it was coming out, because I had seen the other editions,” said Michael this week, “but I never thought that it would be us included in it.
“They judge for the guide on criteria like serving speciality coffee, preparing it in a certain way, working with single origin coffees, things like that.
“Obviously, we must have been ticking off the criteria, because Salt Media, the publishers of the guide, rang us up, and I just said yes. I didn’t have to think about it.
“It’s just great that there’s another little bit of profile for Eyemouth, really. And if you get people coming into town for a stop on the A1, they’re likely to visit us, or come to tick us off their coffee shop list and have a look around the town.”
The reviews in the guide include information on different brew types, beans, grinders and equipment, and in addition, the guide showcases 11 top local artisan roasters (with seven “More Good Roasters” added in for good measure).
Editor of the guide, Jo Rees said: “There’s loads of coffee in Scotland – some of it incredible, some not so good, but your Indy Coffee Guide in your back pocket is your starting point for some brilliant coffee adventures.
The UK’s top barista, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood said of the venture: “The guide represents the emergence of “coffee tourism”. After all, guidebooks have led people to new and exciting realms for centuries.”
The book launch also incorporates the national barista championships, something that Michael has his eye on.
“I’ve been here for four years, and we offer food as well as just coffee, so I’ve been a bit out of practice as a barista, but I really like doing it. It’s mainly been Matthew who’s been doing that, but I’d love to try my hand at competing.
“We’re just preparing to offer another speciality coffee,” he continues, “and we’re looking to sell our own blend in the near future, called Braw Beans, which people will be able to buy bagged, to prepare at home.”
He describes the new blend as a classic, faintly acidic coffee.
“As opposed to the very modern, fruity coffees that we have recently offered,” he said, “this is more of a classic Italian drink. It’s a bit like a record - this is the A-side of the single, the crowd-pleaser.”