Original post, 20/11/2016

It’s a blustery autumn afternoon in the north east of Scotland, but the windows of The Coffee Apothecary in Udny glow bright with welcome. A combination coffee shop and post office in rural Aberdeenshire, 30 minutes drive north of Aberdeen, it is one of this region’s best kept secrets.

Hidden away off the main road through Udny, The Coffee Apothecary carries Edinburgh’s Artisan Roast as their principal coffee supplier, while serving an assortment of house made baked goods as well as more substantial, locally sourced fare.

It’s an amiable, welcoming atmosphere, warm and inviting after the frigid gloaming outside. Assorted tables and the two bars along the windows fill the space comfortably, and the juxtaposition of reclaimed wood furniture and industrial light fixtures give it an easy, offbeat charm.

(Worth noting too is the use of pennies to tile the bathroom floors, another inventive use of materials which can also be seen in the pallet and glass tables).

A La Marzocco FB70 and Mahlkonig EK43 dominate the bar, while the two filter offerings are brewed by a Marco SP9 automated pour over. The assortment of baked goods are on display too, and shelving opposite holds brewing equipment to tempt the more adventurous.

Table service is a nice touch, and the wait staff is very friendly, immediately bringing water to the table and offering a good level of knowledge about the current coffee offerings.

Artisan Roast’s Cobblestone espresso blend is bright and moussey, with a tart citrus kick and a smooth finish. The Guatemala Santa Rosa Buenos Aires pour over is lemony and light, accompanied by a cocoa powder finish that lingers tastefully.

There’s an informative guide to specialty coffee on each table, introducing the curious to the labyrinthine process at the end of which that magical cup arrives on the table in front of you.

It’s also possible to buy Artisan Roast beans to take home and brew, a practice which more cafes should adopt.

While The Coffee Apothecary is a bit of a trek from Aberdeen, it is definitely worth the journey. There’s something satisfying about taking the time to travel somewhere solely to savour a proper cup of coffee, rather than popping into a local anywhere to sate a caffeine craving with whatever’s on hand.

And for residents of the surrounding area, having a place such as this to come on a regular basis must be a joy.

Northeast Scotland is beginning to catch up with the specialty coffee scene, but it is still hard to find places really excelling. Therefore it is worth celebrating when a place such as The Coffee Apothecary takes the time to make the experience enjoyable and the coffee satisfying.

Update, 26/6/2017


June 2017, and a lot has changed at the Coffee Apothecary. Gone is the post office attachment which, while presumably helpful to the local populace, was not worth the hassle for Ali and Jonny, the owners of the business. In fact, Jonny says that he’s had more positive comments about the increased seating space than anything negative about the post office disappearing.

Gone, too, is the enormous 3-group La Marzocco FB70, given a new lease of life on the Isle of Skye at Caora Dhubh Coffee and replaced with a brand new, top-of-the-range 2-group Linea PB ABR. It is much smaller than the FB70, increasing counter space, but its gleaming, angular silver shape is no less dramatic. It pulls a mean shot, as well.

In addition to this, beginning in July the Coffee Apothecary will be opening on Sundays, excellent news for those of us who fancy a Sunday morning coffee jaunt to the countryside.

The Coffee Apothecary has become my local, even though it’s 15 miles away. It’s a lovely atmosphere, the welcome is unfailingly warm, and to top it off they serve the best coffee this side of Edinburgh. I have had espressos, flat whites, and pour-overs galore, and each has been delicious in its own right.

Its rural location might make it hard to find (or seemingly not worth the effort to find) but trust me here - it’s worth it. Take a drive through the pretty countryside, explore a less popular part of Aberdeenshire, and stop in at the Coffee Apothecary while you’re there. You won’t leave disappointed.

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