Nestled in the heart of Aberdeen’s West End, Foodstory Cafe has a reputation as the go-to spot for vegan food in the area. However, it also holds a secret: a fully stocked specialty coffee service with a rotating lineup of guest roasters, all anchored by a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine and Mazzer grinders on a purpose-built concrete bar.

While it is definitely heartening to have a proper, high quality vegan-focused restaurant in the city, this review will concentrate on the coffee and leave the food to others with more expertise in that area.

Walking in the door, one is struck by the amount of reclaimed material on display. Recycled wood tables and cladding match nicely with exposed brick and concrete pillars, and the warm lighting serves to enhance the comfortable, laid back atmosphere.

It is a large, eclectic space, with a projector and screen at one end and turntables for live events. The size means that it is easy to find a table, although in the evening it tends to be harder (not a bad thing, per say - it speaks to the popularity of the place and the hunger for good food and good coffee in this part of the world).

My espresso, a single origin washed Ethiopia Guji Liyu from Obadiah Coffee Roasters, was first-rate - bright and juicy, with black tea notes and a finish containing just the right amount of tartness. Not usually a fan of single origin espressos, having a soft spot for deep, bombastic, moussey espresso blends, I was left impressed with the refinement and clarity of this offering.

My V60 pourover of Williams & Johnson’s Burundi Mbirizu Lot 7 was less successful, but the barista explained that he was having trouble with the brew recipe so it is probably understandable. It was extremely light, almost bordering on thin, with fruit punch notes, a delicate acidity and a dry finish. It felt like something important was missing, although the cup improved markedly as it cooled.

The service was excellent, with the barista bringing each drink over and explaining what I was drinking and what I should be tasting. He was attentive and clearly passionate about his trade.

Near the entrance there are also beans for sale from their rotating guest roaster lineup, as well as brewing equipment and various paraphernalia. This is another positive sign, evidenced also by The Coffee Apothecary, allowing the public to take beans home and learn to brew good coffee themselves.

With an endearing mix of upcycled materials, friendly and conscientious staff, and high end coffee from some of Europe’s best roasters, it’s no wonder Foodstory is as popular as it is. While their focus is clearly on the food (and why not, there is a dearth of good vegan food in this part of the world), it’s good to see more specialty coffee being introduced to a previously parched city.

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