A chic cafe in Glasgow’s West End might seem a far cry from a seaside cafe in Oban.
But for Ferg McCoss and Ness Achilles, owners of Hinba on Dumbarton Road, the opening of their second location is just the next step in a journey that has taken them from first-time roasters to coffee experts in l space of only two years.
Ferg said: “The experience so far has been great, the reception we’ve had in Glasgow has been absolutely amazing.
“We are already starting to recognize familiar faces walking through the door.
“The number of people who have walked into the store and told us they are from Oban, their grandmother is from Oban or even that they have visited our store there before is unbelievable.”
A strong connection to their west coast boutique gives the new Hinba a distinct sense of Hebridean identity, despite being miles from the ocean air that Ferg fondly remembers 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 traveled and lived all over the world but always felt the West Coast was my home.
“When my partner and I returned from Spain to Scotland a few years ago, we started thinking about our time in different countries and what we had liked the most.
“It all came down to the culture of food, drink and cafes.
“After realizing this might be something we could do, we bought a coffee roaster.
“The rest was history.”
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Without any prior experience in coffee work, the duo set to work building their own roastery in a former farm shed on the Ile de Seil, developing a range of ‘unpolluted’ and sustainable products before later open their first store on George Street.
Working tirelessly during the height of the lockdown, they were warmly welcomed by locals, which ultimately gave them the confidence to take on a new challenge.
A sister address in the heart of our dear green city.
Ferg said: “In our first summer we had such brilliant support from the Oban community.
“We started to believe that Hinba could turn into something much bigger than we had originally imagined.
“There were a few places to consider, but we felt a real connection to Glasgow.
“First of all, there’s this proximity to the west coast, but on a more personal level, we both love this place.
“It reminded us of our time in Mallorca. The people are friendly, there is so much going on at night and there is a real café culture.
“There is a lot of life in the city.
It might have seemed natural to Ferg and Ness, but as newcomers to the game, Glasgow’s reputation as a playground for skilled coffee roasters and baristas made the installation of a local store a daunting prospect.
Ferg said: “We were super excited, but I was also a little excited to open in Glasgow because coffee is a really big thing here.
“It was the first time that our coffee had been judged by people who knew their job in this kind of environment.
“Since opening, we’ve had baristas or shopkeepers stop by to chat about coffee all day.
“It was wonderful, just to have the chance to fully learn about the process with anyone.
“I don’t know if it’s the same in other industries, but we’ve found that everyone is so eager to help each other. There is no element of competition or anything fierce.
“We feel like we’re all in the same boat.”
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It wasn’t just the support of Glasgow’s coffee hive spirit that helped the Hinba team find their way.
A chance meeting with the owners of Eighty Eight on Dumbarton Road gave them a home and inspired them to explore a whole new side of the food and drink industry.
Ferg said: “Angus, the owner of the Eighty Eight, tried to help us from the start.
“My dad was at the restaurant for dinner one day, chatting and passing on my information.
“It was Angus who phoned us at the start of the year and said, ‘I have this chance to partner with us next door. What do you think about it?
“Going forward, we will 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 working properly.”
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After two weeks in business, Ferg is convinced Glasgow was the perfect choice for Hinba’s second venture and looks forward to the exciting opportunities the West End boutique is sure to bring.
He said: “Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better location.
“From our clients to the people we work with, it has been absolutely ideal.
“There is nothing I would change. I think we’re really going to thrive here.
Hinba Cafe is located at 86 Dumbarton Road.
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