Glasgow Coffee Festival: How one independent business transformed Glasgow into one of the best European cities for coffee

Lisa Lawson founded Dear Green Coffee Roasters and Glasgow Coffee Festival with one idea in mind - bringing good coffee to Glasgow
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Back when the Glasgow Coffee Festival was first founded, the concept of good complex coffee here in Glasgow was a bit of a foreign concept - but one woman endured, knowing that she could make Glasgow the coffee capital of Scotland.

“It happened slowly, and then all at once”: that’s how Lisa Lawson, founder of the Glasgow Coffee Festival, describes the ascendance of the city to becoming one of Europe’s best for coffee.

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Lisa, who also founded Dear Green Coffee Roasters, one of Scotland’s first specialty roasters, in 2011, spoke as she looked back on ten years since the first Glasgow Coffee Festival as she launched this year’s event, which will take place over the weekend of May 11 and May 12 at The Briggait.

Lisa, who is widely regarded as a pioneer in Glasgow’s coffee scene, said: “When I started out, the barrier to entry was massive - my first roaster cost £17,000. Now, it’s much, much lower. More people can try coffee roasting as a hobby before making it a career. 

“The coffee scene has transformed in the decade since we launched the festival. I’m really proud as I think creating an event where the coffee scene could come together as a community has played a big part in that. 

“A lot can happen in a decade. There were only a few specialty cafes in 2014, when we launched and we were pushing against a lot of resistance to sell specialty coffee, people just didn’t understand how it was better for taste, quality and ethically in terms of both the supply chain and the environment.

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“It happened slowly, then all at once — I think we reached a tipping point around maybe 2015/16. There was real momentum around the coffee scene with roasters and cafes popping up everywhere.

“Now, Glasgow can legitimately say it has one of the best coffee scenes in Europe.“

Lisa Lawson of Dear Green Coffee at The Briggait - where Glasgow Coffee Festival is being held this year on May 11 and May 12Lisa Lawson of Dear Green Coffee at The Briggait - where Glasgow Coffee Festival is being held this year on May 11 and May 12
Lisa Lawson of Dear Green Coffee at The Briggait - where Glasgow Coffee Festival is being held this year on May 11 and May 12

After last year’s coffee festival sold out with thousands of coffee lovers in attendance, anticipation is brewing for the anniversary celebration in May. The event, which is organised by Dear Green Coffee Roasters – a certified B Corp – will once again be single-use cup free.

The certified Q grader added: "Sustainability has been at the heart of our festival from day one. This year, as we celebrate a decade of coffee excellence, we are proud to continue our tradition of being environmentally conscious. The festival has grown bigger every year and so has its impact; we believe this is the world’s most sustainable coffee festival. 

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“As the Glasgow Coffee Festival embarks on its landmark year, it’s testament to the passion, resilience, and community spirit that define Scotland's thriving coffee culture. The festival has not only been a celebration of coffee but a catalyst for change, inspiring people to embrace and contribute to the coffee community.”

Gillian McIntyre, who was in attendance at the first coffee festival and has since become a trailblazer in Glasgow’s coffee scene, has joined as project manager, responsible for the festival’s expanded program of workshops, talks, roaster demonstrations, and podcasts designed to provide festivalgoers with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the intricate world of coffee, celebrating its diversity and craftsmanship.

The success of the festival is underlined by the support of event partners dedicated to excellence in the coffee industry, including La Marzocco, Oatly, Brewed by Hand, Dear Green, Mossgiel, Story Shop, Brew It Group and Best Water Technology.

With the event a sell-out last year, tickets are expected to go quickly from To be kept up to date with news from the festival, follow @glasgowcoffee festival on Instagram. 

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