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Coffee shop review

Tinderbox, Ingram Street, Glasgow

Tinderbox, ingram street, glasgow


The single shot

Great (strong) coffee, great music, great vibe … and great seats.

Tinderbox, 118 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 1EJ. Map »

Tel 0141 552 6907
Open Mon-Sat 7.15am-10pm
Sun 8am-10pm

Take me down to the Merchant City.

The seats. Ah, the seats.

Tinderbox’s first expansion into the city centre is an oddly laid-out place. It looks pretty pokey from the front, but head through a corridor and there’s an enormous, bright and spectacularly strangely decorated space at the back.

And then there’s the balcony. It’s mostly a mix of the standard tables, chairs and benches you’d expect. But the seats right at the top of the stairs are a different story. Ancient, leather chairs designed for the express purpose of lazing about.

They’re brilliant. They’re brilliant to the extent that, when I arrive, I actually now get upset if someone else is sitting there. I have, previously, moved part-way through a coffee when some usurper has vacated them. I’m starting to feel that, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, they’ll attach one of those little brass plaques to them (for these seats will never die): “Here sat (regularly) Dave, coffee snob, cappuccino orderer, paper reader.”

Tinderbox first opened on Byres Road in 1998, but I’ve never totally taken to that branch. It’s good fun but it never really feels like a place where you can unwind – instead it’s a case of go in, have a quick coffee, go elsewhere.

The Ingram Street branch is totally different. Barely a weekend goes by when I’m not there at least once (normally twice), ploughing my way through a paper. The vibe invites it; the coffee makes it better.

Be in no doubt. Tinderbox’s coffee is strong, strong stuff. Their regular drinks have two shots and are pretty much the most potent brews I’ve tasted, particularly in Scotland. If you take sugar in your coffee anywhere, you’ll probably do so here. If you don’t like any hint of strong coffee, be sure to ask for a one-shot drink – otherwise the chances are you won’t even be able to finish it.

But the upshot of this is that the drinks are fantastic. They’re not expensive either, at £2.30 for a regular cappuccino or latte (the baristas are all experts in latte art, too – there’s a wall of fame highlighting the best designs).

Tinderbox probably has my favourite atmosphere of any Glasgow coffee house I’ve visited: it’s a great spot for people-watching, laid back enough but still with plenty happening if you’re a nosy type (and I am, very much so). It always has a great soundtrack, too – about half of my favourite new music from the past year has come from their sound system. And it’s a late opener – 10pm – ideal if you find yourself in town but don’t fancy heading to a pub.

Downsides? Well, the last couple of times I’ve been there doesn't seem to have been any wifi, and when it is working, it’s pay-for (I know. In 2012. What’s with that?). Beyond that, I’m struggling.

In a city centre that’s crammed full of chains, Tinderbox is a fantastic oasis. Go there. But please don’t steal my favourite seat.

Comments: 4 (Add)

Undwan Batch on December 3 2013 at 22:11

Love everything about this review so much- completely true! Get some
Tinder in your lives!

Noon on April 21 2014 at 10:25

Hi, Im from Thailand. Accidentally found your blog here when I googled for the best coffee in Glasgow. I do coffee search for every town I go. Tinderbox happened to be the nearest from my friend's home. The coffee is good. Espresso is strong one. Flat with was nice. The barista did very good with the milk. Good music. I enjoy this place. Thanks!

Stuart on April 6 2015 at 10:13

This used to be the place to go. Lived in Glasgow for over 10 years and love Tinderbox - new baristas at the ingram street shop = rotten flat white.

I now have to trek out to the west end tinderbox to get a good coffee!


George on December 24 2015 at 11:37

I like my coffee black, I walk abit further to reach a good cafe, what a shitty cup of coffee? Might as well have gone to Starbucks. A small black which is usually less diluted was no stronger than filter! When I asked them (barista) if it was they said "well, it's coffee and it's black". That the second time and last. What a shame. got my money back and went to chain was better. Fine if you only want frothy milk.

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

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