Robi Lambie, the founder of Edinburgh’s Cairngorm Coffee Roaster, tells us about his caffeinated life


My son Jamie dictates how my day begins. His arrival during lockdown has improved the structure of my day a bit, putting an end to what can sometimes be a rather erratic morning/afternoon. Keeping my mind on the tasks that help you prepare ensures that I can have some mental space away from business. Who needs meditation when you can focus on making sure a kid doesn’t get on the kitchen counter and put a bag of coffee in the microwave?

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With Jamie in the nursery, I get down to business. This will mean stopping by our store in Edinburgh’s west end to drop off stock, pick up stock for the other store or if I’m lucky just checking in with the staff and enjoying a batch beer. After flying past the other shop, I’ll now have a better idea of ​​the tasks that need to be completed. I use the trip to Leith to collect my thoughts while listening to a business podcast.

On roasting days, I will try to get to the roastery in time to communicate with the team before they turn our green coffee brown. There are many tasks; One key is to check inventory to assess what we need to get from our importers. This is a long process, so I like to use my brain while it’s fresh and caffeinated. I often schedule meetings for this time of day. Having lived through a pandemic, I am fully embracing video conferencing.

I rarely eat lunch as my mind has wandered to the firefighting tasks I scribbled on my phone notes earlier. For the next few hours, I’m answering emails, discussing social media with our marketing gurus, strategizing, fielding team queries in Slack, and trying to remember that I still have seven or more tasks to check off my list to check first. On a roasting day, I also expect to test each coffee as part of our quality control procedures. It’s important that you understand what’s going on in all aspects of the business, and since it all starts with the coffee we roast, I think it’s a valuable use of my time.

My wife has set a 6pm curfew at the latest to help put my son to bed, something I look forward to. I almost always stop by the store in the West End to drop off the day’s roasts and fix something. One of the small pleasures I find in life is making myself useful, so even putting a picture on the wall can seem like an achievement, a perfect way to end the work day.

I spend some time with my son and put him to bed before making dinner with my wife and sitting at our breakfast bar that used to be a table in our store on Frederick St.

I go to bed super early. I spend a while complaining about how tired I am, that my back hurts from carrying bags of coffee, or that Covid never ends, then I go to sleep wanting to do it all over again the next day.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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