The Glasgow Empire

Some words to explain the intent behind starting this blog. It is intended to do two things. Firstly, to encourage me to spend some more time writing (It’s not the first attempt and I seem to do this about as often as I vow to spend more time in the gym – usually with the same results, a short period of activity and then – ZZZzzz).

It’s also an attempt to bring me closer to Scotland’s greatest city, its music, architecture, people, art and sport (By which, I mean rugby – sorry, but football in Glasgow currently leaves me cold).


I was 21 before I started drinking coffee. I remember a meal in a restaurant with my girlfriend at the time when she forced me – literally, “You will not leave the table until you have done this” – to drink what was, I suspect, a pretty ordinary cup of percolator/filter black coffee. I am slightly more grown up, these days, a little more able to make my own lifestyle decisions and I drink a lot more coffee.

You might, if you were so minded, characterise me as a ‘coffee snob’. I, for my part, would reject that characterisation. [Rant imminent] “Why”, I would demand, “does wanting something that’s not shite, default to ‘snobbery’?” Surely there’s , a middle ground between the instant, so-called ‘coffee’, chemical substitute that gets punted in supermarkets up and down the land and your actual, oligarch-of-the-manor, expensive for its own sake, ‘snobbery’.

This, for example, would be ‘coffee snobbery’:-


This, on the other hand, is just good, common sense:-


The second picture is my venerable (I think they call it, ‘vintage’, these days) stove-top moka pot (Fun fact – not that you can tell, but I even cleaned the hob before taking the photo. I didn’t clean the coffeepot though. Moka-pot lovers will confirm, after a few years of regular use, they tend to look a tad grungy. It’s part of the charm.)

So far today, my stove-top Moka has delivered two, really quite decent Americanos – double-shots of Cuban Turquino espresso (ordered from the very lovely people at The Bean Shop, in Perth), topped up with nearly-but-not-quite boiling water. I am not the kind of coffee obsessive that hangs out on sites like this but, I know what I like.

Another counter-snobbery argument – much like the years when I used to shave with a traditional, Merkur safety razor and saving soap (I don’t shave at all, at the moment, so the Merkur’s in semi-retirement in a drawer by my bedside) – I made the switch to ‘proper’ coffee, to save money, not spend more of it. It worked out like this – small Americanos from a high-street (e.g Costa), coffee-bar were costing me £2-4.00/day. The aforementioned  roast Cuban Turquino is £5.00/250g (plus delivery). 250g lasts me 8-10 days – i.e. roughly 40-50p/day.

Then, because stove-top moka pots are a tad inconvenient for the office, where stoves tend to be in short supply, I invested in one of these:-


My wondrous, Aerobie Aeropress, ‘office’ coffee-maker. For £22.00 (or, the price of 10 Costa Americanos), I acquired an easy, hassle-free way to make decent coffee anywhere there’s access to hot water. The Aeropress has changed my life. Since I bought it, I am fitter, happier, wealthier and much, much prettier. [Most of this is a lie]. I have also enjoyed many more, Cuban Turquino Americanos. Once the £22.00 investment in the Aeropress is paid off, decent coffee costs me about a quarter of what it did when I was buying it everyday from places like Costa.

So, if snobbery means getting what you want for less hassle and less money then, alright damnit, I’m a snob.