A chic coffee shop in Glasgow’s West End might seem a whole world away from a café by the sea in Oban.
But for Ferg McCoss and Ness Achilles, the owners of Hinba on Dumbarton Road, opening their second location is just the next step in a journey that has taken them from first-time roasters to coffee experts in the space of only two years.
Ferg said: “It’s been a great experience so far, the reception we’ve had in Glasgow has been absolutely amazing.
“We’re already starting to recognise familiar faces coming through the door.
“The amount of people who have come into the shop and told us that they’re from Oban, that their granny is from Oban or even that they’ve visited our shop there before is incredible.”
A strong link to their West Coast shop gives the new Hinba a distinct sense of Hebridean identity, despite being miles away from the ocean air that Ferg remembers fondly from his childhood.
It seems fitting, given that returning to his Oban roots inspired him and Ness to follow their passion for all things coffee.
He said: “I’ve travelled and lived all over the world but I always felt that the West Coast was home to me.
“When my partner and I moved back to Scotland from Spain a few years ago we started to think about our time in different countries and what it was we had loved the most.
“It all came down to food, drink and café culture.
“After realising that this might be something that we could do went ahead and bought a coffee roaster.
“The rest was history.”
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With no prior experience in working with coffee, the duo set to work building their own roastery in an old farmhouse shed on the Isle of Seil, developing a range of ‘unpolluted’, and sustainable products before later opening their first shop on George Street.
Working tirelessly through the height of lockdown they were met with a warm welcome from locals which ultimately gave them the confidence to take on a new challenge.
A sister location right in the heart of our dear green city.
Ferg said: “During our first summer we had had such brilliant support from the Oban community.
“We started to believe that Hinba could turn into something a lot bigger than we had first imagined.
“There were a few locations to consider but we felt a real connection to Glasgow.
“First of all, there’s that proximity to the West Coast, but on a more personal level we both love it here.
“It reminded us of our time Mallorca. The people are friendly, there’s so much going on at night and there’s a real café culture.
“There’s a lot of life in the city.”
It might have felt like a natural fit for Ferg and Ness, but as relative newcomers to the game, Glasgow’s reputation as a playground for skilled coffee roasters and baristas made setting up shop locally a daunting prospect.
Ferg said: “We were super excited, but I was also a little anxious to open in Glasgow because coffee is a really big thing here.
“This was the first time that our coffee would be judged by people who knew their stuff in this kind of environment.
“Since opening, we’ve had baristas or shop owners stop by to chat about coffee all day.
“It’s been wonderful, just having the chance to fully geek out about the process with anyone we can.
“I’m not sure if it’s the same in other industries but we’ve found that everyone is so eager to help each other. There’s no element of competition or anything cutthroat.
“It feels like we’re all in it together.”
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It’s not just the support of the Glasgow coffee hive mind that has helped team Hinba to find its way.
A chance encounter with the owners of Eighty Eight on Dumbarton Road gave them a place to call home as well as inspiring them to explore a whole new side of the food and drink industry.
Ferg said: “Angus, the owner of the Eighty Eight has been trying to help us from the start.
“My dad was in the restaurant for dinner one day, got chatting and passed on my information.
“Angus was the one that phoned us at the start of the year and said, ‘I have this chance to partner with us next door. What do you reckon?
“Going forward we’re going to work together to curate a brunch menu and tap into their knowledge to serve cocktails, wines, and beers over the weekend.
“It’s going to be a really cool space when it’s up and running properly.”
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After two weeks in business, Ferg feels confident that Glasgow was the perfect choice for Hinba’s second venture and is looking forward to the exciting opportunities the West End shop is sure to bring.
He said: “We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better location.
“From our customers to the people that we work with it’s been absolutely ideal.
“There’s nothing that I would change. I think we’ll really flourish here.”
Hinba Coffee is located at 86 Dumbarton road.
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