With a stunning corner location in Bruntsfield, Modern Standard Coffee is a fantastic addition to the Edinburgh coffee scene.
Long renowned as a roaster, it is Modern Standard’s first coffee. The idea of one of the UK specialty coffee pioneers, Lynsey Harley, Modern Standard Coffee at 49 Barclay Place began operations in early December 2020. During our visit we were immediately impressed with the chic and airy interior, the warmth of the welcome from the baristas, and the superb coffee. We had tasty piccolos with lingering hints of toffee. The grains used were a blend of 70% Brazil Santa Lucia and 30% Colombia Aromas Del Sur. As Lynsey points out, Brazilian is a great base for an espresso, but you need something like Colombian to add a layer of complexity and interest to the mix. For their batch brew, they use a Guatemala Finca La Providencia.
The store was, for decades, William Watt the electrician (a classic case of nominative determinism) and when Lynsey saw that it was available for rent in February 2020, she jumped at the chance; “I used to joke with my roommate that it would make great coffee. Eleven years later she called and said – you’ll never believe it, but there’s a sign outside… I said – it’s fate ”. After a break in the spring and summer, she finally started working at the venue in September. It took quite a bit of work to get the place ready (including a lot of ground work), but it was worth it. The café has judiciously retained the original woodwork which gives the interior real character. There is room for about 30 customers. Seating is available on the ground floor with another attractive section on the first floor overlooking Bruntsfield Links. These seats will undoubtedly be in particular demand.
Originally from Glenrothes, Lynsey studied, worked and lived in Edinburgh before moving south and getting involved in the cutting edge coffee scene in London. This included a spell with much-loved Fernandez & Wells. She also spent time in Denmark – there is certainly a Scandinavian element to the look of the interior. She says that “when I left Edinburgh there was hardly any cafe scene and even in London there were only about 50 people involved who all knew each other”. She now has 17 years of specialty coffee experience and is excited to see how things have developed in Edinburgh over the past decade. Since returning to Scotland, she has been looking to create a cafe to showcase the excellent Modern Standard Coffee beans, which are now roasted in Glenrothes. Modern Standard imports its own beans and supplies a number of hotels and cafes across the UK.
While steeped in the specialty coffee scene, she is keen on modern standard coffee attracting a wide variety of customers, from coffee geeks discussing the details of roasts and brewing methods to those who just want a cup of coffee. cafe in a welcoming and attractive environment. Lynsey hopes their coffee will be “tasty and accessible” because “there is nothing worse than being too pretentious, complicating things and alienating people.”
She believes that too many people in the specialty coffee scene have a slightly snobby attitude and therefore can be off-putting to many. “Good coffee for everyone” is the slogan displayed on the side of the cafe (and on her cups) and the philosophy she wants coffee to embody. So she was thrilled to have succeeded in recruiting baristas who combine coffee making skills with excellent customer service. For Lynsey, the ambiance and atmosphere of the place is just as important as the quality of the coffee that flows from the elegant Dalla Corte machine.
In addition to espresso, Modern Standard Coffee also serves batch infusions, loose leaf teas, and Colombian hot chocolate – high in cocoa (52%). They also serve pastries including scones baked on site (a new oven perfect for scones had just arrived when we visited). But coffee is the focus and Modern Standard Coffee won’t enter the brunch market because Lynsey wants customers served quickly, without waiting for their orders to arrive.
Lynsey suggests that she is looking for other places, but that it is unlikely that she will find better locations than this one. With Castello a few doors away and Artisan Roast and Machina Espresso also very close by, the area near Bruntsfield Links becomes a prime destination for coffee lovers.
Modern Standard Cafe 49 Barclay Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HW