Join us on a tour of this vegan-friendly cafe scene
In each edition of The Coffee Extract, we'll spotlight a slice of cafe culture from different regions of the UK & Ireland. This month, we start with Glasgow's Southside, a stone's throw from our roastery, as seen through the eyes of our NPD technologist, Nicola Montgomerie. And as it's Veganuary, what better to focus on than the thriving vegan-friendly cafe scene.
I became a pescatarian seven years ago. At first, I planned on it being a stepping stone to becoming vegan. Baby steps to make it easier to adjust. I was obsessed with watching videos about vegan cafes and restaurants and was completely drawn in at the thought of a clean, healthy, and sustainable diet. What wasn’t to like?
The main factor that really drew me into the vegan lifestyle was how much better it is for the environment. Industrial meat farming is the leading cause of deforestation, and meat and dairy account for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing your carbon footprint is more important than ever – and minimising your dairy intake is one of the easiest (& most delicious!) ways to do it!
Whilst I am still on that journey (I haven't yet stopped eating cheese), I do love eating and drinking vegan options whenever I can. My transition to plant-based mylks is one example.
I have never drunk a huge amount of milk anyway – but the move to non-dairy milk probably started after joining Matthew Algie. Plant-based mylks weren’t huge and if cafes offered alternatives it was mainly soya. I didn’t ever really drink coffee before I started here – so I don’t think I paid much attention to non-dairy milk options!
Being part of the Quality team means doing lots of tastings – so the day we tried all different alternative mylk samples my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I started using oat mylk in ice lattes as I liked the way it tasted. Then, when I realised the huge environmental impact of switching to oat milk, it was a no-brainer.
Living near Shawlands in Glasgow's southside is great as there is such a wide variety of cafes that are vegan-friendly. The best thing is - they are so proud of it! There is nothing better than visiting a small cafe's social media and it’s full of love for their oat milk lattes.
My personal favourite is Frankie Coffee – a tiny little place on Skirving Street that doesn’t offer dairy milk at all! Sustainability is at their heart, so they offer oat, soya, almond and coconut mylks at no extra charge, which I think makes them stand out a mile versus most other cafes that charge an extra 20-30p. They also sell a wide range of reusable cups and give discounts if you bring in your own. They offer a loyalty card which I’ve filled and used to get this iced oat milk latte: perfection!
On this virtual tour, I'll also take you to Short Long Black on Victoria Road. This is another tiny cafe with orders being taken right at the door. Sadly no sitting in for the time being. The window is always full of delicious-looking bakes – with options to suit vegans and non-vegans alike. I again ordered an iced oat milk latte (I am nothing if not consistent), and a vegan chocolate croissant.
The guys here are friendly and fun. From the outside it looks so cozy inside and I can't wait to visit properly one day in the future! In the meantime, it’s a very short stroll down to Queens Park – where you can enjoy a coffee and a scenic walk.
Next up – we're visiting Café Strange Brew. This little gem is located right in the centre of Shawlands' main street and is a firm favourite of many. I think this place helped make brunching the big thing in Shawlands! I tried to visit this café on a Sunday morning – but ended up leaving and coming back the next weekend as the queue was crazy! I came back the next Saturday mid-afternoon, still busy but way more manageable.
I was going to stick to my roots and go another iced latte – but it was so much colder this day I went for a little oat milk mocha. Sweet - delicious – vegan: the perfect combination! It was brought out in a little Vegeware cup too – big plus points from me. I didn’t go for any bakes this day, but they had a large selection in the window. You can’t book for this place – so get down early and grab your coffee, I can guarantee you won’t regret it!
Before trying café strange brew, I had stopped on Skirving street to peek into a place I hadn’t been before. Bright yellow and cheery, new vegan bakery Honey Trap looks SO welcoming and fun. The window is crammed full of stunning bakes, so I wandered in to grab one. Lucky for me I had stopped by on a Saturday; as they’re only open weekends at the moment! I would have gotten a coffee however they were only offering filter (on a cold dreary day I was in the mood for a big hot latte), so I picked up a cinnamon bun I shared with my cousin. It was absolutely delicious – HOW are vegan bakers that good?
About Nicola Montgomerie
NPD technologist, Matthew Algie
I’ve worked at Matthew Algie for 4 years now. The first three and a half as QA Assistant working in the QA lab, and just recently started as NPD Technologist September 2021. I studied Food Bioscience at Glasgow Caledonian University and graduated in 2017. I spent a semester of this study in Amsterdam, studying at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. I had never drunk coffee prior to starting at Matthew Algie, but I’m now a huge coffee nerd and love talking, drinking and exploring all things coffee. Café culture is thriving and I’m so glad to be a big part of it.
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