Edinburgh Evening News

Something’s brewing in Capital’s competitiv­e café culture scene

Something’s brewing in Edinburgh as Cornwall-based Origin Coffee has taken over the Union Brew Lab site with ambitions to become an integral part of the city’s cafe culture. Gaby Soutar finds out more from the founder, Tom Sobey


Edinburgh’s coffee scene seems to be percolatin­g. There are a handful of new independen­ts, as well as previously unheard of chains, such as the suddenly ubiquitous Black Sheep Coffee, and hot chocolate (and coffee) specialist, Knoops.

Another fresh contender in Scotland is the roaster Origin Coffee, which was founded in 2004 and already has something of a presence in the city as it currently supplies wholesale to Gleneagles Townhouse, Ondine, The Fishmarket, Aizle and The Milkman, among others. It has just taken over at the Union Brew Lab spot on the Capital’s South College Street. We asked Tom Sobey to tell us more.

Tell us about the brand Origin Coffee is an awardwinni­ng, B Corp speciality coffee roaster. This year we’re celebratin­g our 20th year, making us one of the longest-standing, independen­t coffee roasters in the UK. We’ve built a reputation on quality, honesty, and integrity. Along the way we’ve won a few awards and accolades including Best Speciality Coffee Roaster in Europe last year which is something we’re really proud of.

Why Edinburgh and why that specific location?

We recognised the wellestabl­ished specialty coffee scene in Edinburgh as an opportunit­y to become part of a close-knit community and to support our wholesale partners, not only within the city but also throughout the rest of Scotland. Brew Lab, renowned as one of the pioneers that built a reputation for specialty coffee 13 years ago, is a brand I respect greatly. When we had the opportunit­y to take over its site, we knew it was perfect and a chance to continue celebratin­g speciality coffee in the city.

What’s different about your brand?

We strive for the highest standards, embracing our core values of seasonalit­y, provenance, and transparen­cy in every aspect of our operations.

Whether it’s sourcing the finest beans, the meticulous roasting processes, fostering meaningful relationsh­ips, or striving for continuous growth, our commitment remains unwavering.

What sets us apart from non-speciality roasters is our dedication to direct trade relationsh­ips that have been nurtured for more than a decade.

Our dedication to these values extends beyond our business practices. We have been recertifie­d as a B Corp – an achievemen­t that underscore­s our collective efforts and steadfast commitment to driving positive change.

Who is your product aimed at?

While specialty coffee can sometimes seem exclusive, we take pride in being a business and brand that embraces inclusivit­y and accessibil­ity for all. We want everyone to experience and enjoy ethically sourced, quality coffee which is why we will be offering brewing courses in Edinburgh to take people on the journey and get them excited.

How do you differenti­ate yourself in the market? We’re one of the longeststa­nding coffee roasters on UK shores. I have remained as involved in the business as I was from day one to the present day which I’m really proud of. We have a loyalty programme that means every customer earns points with every purchase which can be used in-store but can also be used to enjoy coffee at home through our subscripti­on service.

What else will you offer, apart from coffee?

In Edinburgh, we’re working closely with local suppliers to offer a fantastic selection of pastries and baked goods. We’ll also be offering Land Chocolate and Canton teas.

What will the space be like? In all our sites, we’ve worked closely with interior designer Megan Sadler so Edinburgh will be a continuati­on of our roastery café in Cornwall, offering a sophistica­ted industrial aesthetic. Visitors can expect a fresh and modern space that complement­s the character of the original building. Materials such as a bronze effect bar and stainless steel worktops alongside oak furniture, boucle fabrics, and reclaimed lighting will come from Skinflint. The original wooden floor will also sanded back to add new life into the space.

Can customers sit in or is it more of a takeaway?

We’ve redesigned the space to allow for additional seating for over 30 customers.

We’re laptop-friendly so people can come in for a quick espresso or stay longer for meetings, to work, socialise or just relax. The space will also be available in the evenings to host community-focused and special events.

Do you hope to expand to other Scottish cities?

Right now our focus is on the opening of our Edinburgh site and building a community with the locals.

‘We’re one of the longest-standing coffee roasters. I have remained as involved in the business as I was from day one’

 ?? ?? Tom Sobey of award-winning, B Corp speciality coffee roaster Origin Coffee
Tom Sobey of award-winning, B Corp speciality coffee roaster Origin Coffee
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