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Coffee shop review

Riverhill Coffee Bar, Gordon Street, Glasgow

Riverhill coffee bar, gordon street, glasgow

Riverhill Coffee Bar

The single shot

Delicious. Handy. Cheap. Friendly. Go there, now.

Riverhill Coffee Bar, 24 Gordon Street, Glasgow G1 3PU. Map »

Tel 0141 204 4762
Email RiverhillDeli@live.com
Web riverhillcafe.com
On Twitter | Facebook
Open Mon-Fri 7am-5pm
Sat 8am-5pm
Sun 10am-5pm

So good that it jumped the review queue.

It is depressingly common that, the closer you get to a station in any town or city, the worse the area gets.

The state of Union Street in Glasgow probably bears that out more than most – a pretty uninspiring run of not-very-nice shops and pubs. And Gordon Street isn’t exactly much better.

Until now, that is. For squeezed in between a nail salon and a flight-bookers is a wee gem of a place for the city.

As I write this review, Riverhill Coffee Bar has been open for less than a week. It’s the little sister of a cafe and deli in Helensburgh. And it’s exactly the caffeine injection the area needed.

I don’t remember there being so much buzz about a new coffee shop opening for quite a while, so I thought it best to get down there as quickly as possible. I liked it so much that it’s jumped ahead of another two reviews to appear here as quickly as possible.

First things first: Riverhill is tiny. Its main market, given its location, was always likely to the takeaway crowd, and it serves them really well. But there are a few seats along a side wall and in the window for those who want to stop in for a little bit longer.

That’s what I did, sampling a flat white (£2.10) and a square of raspberry and walnut brownie (£2.25). I’d already heard good things but these were both totally fantastic – the coffee was perfectly made and the brownie was perhaps the gooiest cake I’ve ever had (I mean that in a very, very good way).

The staff, too, are worth complimenting. It’s too common in Glasgow (as with so many places) that even when you go into a nice spot, the staff are … not standoff-ish exactly but just overly businesslike. Not here. It was like walking into a place run by old friends. To be frank, I hope they might become that over time – I’m certainly expecting to see them again soon.

The sign above the door declares Riverhill offers “delectable sandwiches” and, while it was a bit early for me to fire into some lunch too, if they taste half as good as they looked then that’d be right on the mark.

I’m always concerned when an independent place opens in a city centre so dominated by the big chains that it might struggle to get itself established. I’m delighted that Riverhill already seems to be bucking that trend. There was a constant flow of customers when I was in. This wasn’t just steady, it was actively busy – and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet.

Downsides? It’s shut on Sundays. Harrumph. And it’s not quite big enough to be able to stay for a while with a good book (though that’s possibly a good thing, because if they had any more space, I’d probably just move in).

But whether you find yourself near Central as you’re about to head off on a train journey, you want to grab a quick to-go drink or you’d like to take the weight off for half an hour, Riverhill is the new place to go.

Comments: 12 (Add)

No froth on January 29 2013 at 10:56

David, I appreciate what your trying to do with this coffee review thing in and around Glasgow BUT its just not going to be taken serious enough amoungst the serious coffee people in Glasgow IF your just not 100% honest and transparent. Every review has been a positive review when in fact the coffee you talk about in 80% of the cafes you have visited just don't stand up. What exactly is a inexspensive coffee? What exactly is it your looking for when you are tasting a coffee? Are you tasting at least 3 different coffees? Are they all milk based? We have extremely passionate people in the city at the moment and given glowing COFFEE reviews to establishments that are just not proffesional enough with there coffee standard - doesn't help us.

So either review the current food offerings and leave the coffee out.

This is not in any way meant to be a criticism of what your doing, the fact is its simply not helping the speciality coffee movement or roasters in this city.
Riverhill is in that 10% of coffee people that care. Btw.

Dave on January 29 2013 at 11:25

I'm sorry you feel that way. The about page for this site specifically says: "this blog doesn’t aim to specifically review the coffee (though if it’s not nice, it probably won’t merit a spot here). Instead, I’m aiming to look at Glasgow’s cafes and coffee shops as a whole – what’s the atmosphere like? Are they open late? Anything that makes them particularly stand out?"

I'm aiming to compile a guide to places that I'd be happy to go for coffee, to meet/take friends, and suchlike - and I've already received lots of messages from people discovering new places that they might not otherwise know about. I'm not a specific coffee expert. I don't claim to be. If there's anything specific that you'd like to raise where you feel I've been unfairly effusive, do feel free to send me a message. But if you're looking for really specific reviews around the precise quality of espresso, or suchlike, this probably isn't the site for you.

No froth on January 29 2013 at 12:31

David, your website is a great introduction for people that are either traveling to Glasgow for a day trip or holiday and looking for a great cafe to go to and your website serves that very well. Keep up the good work.

Polished on January 29 2013 at 15:40

Sadly I agree with No Froth. Unfortunately visitors to your site will see you are "in search of Glasgows best coffee" and go along to the majority of venues here to get coffee that is no better than starbucks or costas......(yet still gets a good review). The coffee industry is trying to move forward yet if you continue to promote ordinary coffee (even though this may not be your intention) then we will always be swamped with mediocrity when we can be much better.

There is some amazing venues and people in this city who deserved to be noticed for the product they produce.....Riverhill, Dear Green, Papercup, Avenue G, Artisan Roast to name but a few

Dave on January 29 2013 at 15:48

You possibly have a point about the tagline, which I've amended slightly to reflect the ethos of the site. I decided early on that it wouldn't be about purely the coffee but hadn't tweaked the tagline to match.

I would point out that I've been to all the places you mention and they're great - but they aren't for everybody. Some people want somewhere they'll get a nice coffee along with some tasty cake; some want somewhere they can sit and relax for a couple of hours, etc. I'm aiming to cater more for those people than purely the ones who're obsessed with a good coffee (not least because they probably already know all of the places to go!).

Benny on January 30 2013 at 18:18

Great review. No Froth is probably spending a little too much time at Artisan Roast.

No froth on January 31 2013 at 01:16

Benny, this is meant to be an open discussion not a critic of me or any other cafe in Glasgow. If you would like to add any substance to the conversation then please leave your un warranted comments to yourself.

No froth on January 31 2013 at 01:23

David, I think you have made the right descion on changing the tagline but I still think that you must be honest when you are talking about coffee. The problem is with this city at the moment is the fact we only have one roaster supplying beans which limits taste profiles and doesn't give choice in the market place especially when everyone is serving that coffee in many different sizes. However, you readers should be excited as I am about the rumors tha avenue g are opening a separate roasting site and I spoke with the owners of Papercup tha they are also installing a roaster in house. Every time I come down to Glasgow I do see a change happening but we need more than just great coffee bars we also need more great roasters to supply choice and service in the industry . Without the rosters we will have a one dimension coffee choice.

Put the coffee down on February 13 2013 at 11:45

No Froth, why bother with any of these responses? If you don't agree with the review, then walk on. The fact that you've taken good time to have a go at someone who is purely voicing their own opinion of a coffee shop, shows you and not Dave in a bad light.

Don't agree with the blog? Write yer own.

Ewan on February 27 2013 at 19:23

Hey David,
You should come along to the Glasgow Coffee Jam soon. It's a monthly get-together of baristas and coffee geeks who are mainly based in Glasgow but some outwit (in fact, he next event is in Edinburgh!). We're trying to foster a coffee community in Glasgow while the movement is still small. You can find our page on Facebook. Feel free to message the page for arrangements, it will probably be me who responds. It will be good to add another to our ever-growing community!

Dave on February 27 2013 at 19:26

Thanks, Ewan - I'll check it out!

Steven Elief on April 9 2015 at 18:40

Informative, but I think you really miss the point that in you should base your assessments of the base product, espresso, nothing added.

I believe about 5% of patrons of better coffee bars, and I am one of them, drink nothing but espresso. One Edinburgh shop told me they'd quickly be out of business with customers like me.

The food is wallpaper, and the ambiance is great, but irrelevant in the appraisal of the base product.

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Dave. Lives in Glasgow. Likes coffee. Will travel. More »

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