The Bear’s Larder is an independent Edinburgh urban farm store, showcasing the best local, artisanal and seasonal produce Scotland has to offer - including all the latest coffee from Machina. Opened by Tim and Kit in April 2021, you can find them at 15 Colinton Road in Morningside (or Bruntsfield, depending who you ask!).
Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the Bear’s Larder?
We have a deep rooted love of food and the best is always found at the wee shops attached to farms or produced by small scale producers who aren’t in a position to supply large retailers. The issue is that not everyone can get out to the sticks to enjoy the majority of farm shops and local markets are only on 1 or 2 times a week without the guarantee that your favourite small supplier will be there. We wanted to change that and bring these amazing producers into the heart of the community.
What can people expect when they come into the store?
We wanted to create a space that felt special, where anyone can come and not only shop for amazing products but to talk about all things food related. The Larder is really rooted around the concept of “home" and the importance of the comfort and sustenance a well stocked larder provides.
How did you go about selecting the produce partners you have chosen to work with?
We have a real focus on artisanal and seasonal produce and products and we made the commitment early on to work with, support and champion local, small scale and independent producers whenever possible. Our range is constantly evolving. We built the original producer and stock list based on those that we use most frequently and love at home and then we encourage our customers to come in and talk to us about their favourite producers and anything specific they are looking for.
We also wanted to work with people who aligned with our own ethos and values, particularly when it comes to animal welfare. We don’t stock your typical range but that is because we won’t budge on those standards and we ask the tough questions and ask for receipts from our producers to ensure they are walking the walk and not just talking the talk . It takes a lot of work but it is worth every minute of it.
What has your experience been of opening a new business during the pandemic?
It’s been intense. Starting a business in ordinary times is hard work but the pandemic threw up some many little things that ordinarily wouldn’t have been an issue. Everything from coordinating workmen through to supply chain. However, we were lucky to have amazing support from our suppliers and contractors who pulled out the stops to help wherever they could.
The one great thing that has come out of the pandemic is that it has reminded people how vital and important local, independent businesses are and it has encouraged people to show their support and shop local. We’ve got such a great community around us who have come out to support our opening.
What have you learned about yourself over the past 12 months?
Mostly that we can run on very very little sleep, that good coffee can fix most things and that we can work together without killing each other.
But seriously, we always knew this would be hard work but it really has brought us a new found respect for all of our friends and fellow independent business owners. It takes so much work to deliver a great experience and we are lucky enough to be part of a fantastic community that really appreciates that work.
Why did you decide to select Machina Coffee as your coffee partner?
We originally had come up to Edinburgh for a weekend of snooping around other coffee shops when we were in the process of looking for premises for The Larder. The best cup of coffee we had over the whole weekend was in a wee independent and we noticed that it was Machina that supplied their beans.
We rang up and spoke to Steve who was super helpful and gave us a tonne of really practical advice. Out of all of the potential coffee suppliers we looked at, Machina not only sold a great product but they were the only ones that just seemed to get what we were looking to do and what we would need to achieve it.
How have you found working with Machina?
The service and support we’ve received from Machina has been next level. From our very first conversations when we still had nothing more than a rough idea of what we wanted to do Steve and the team have been on hand offering support and guidance through each stage of the process. From sourcing our machine, recommending retail products, emergency repair work on Bertha [a La Marzocco Linea Classic with custom panels]… it’s all been great. As we came from a very different background it was invaluable having a partner that really understood not only the industry but also how to navigate it as an independent retailer.
Finally, tell us - how is Bertha getting on? Is she settling in ok?
Bertha is a minx. She’s big, bold and beautiful with a stubborn streak and we love her. She’s worked hard over the last 6 weeks serving our regulars and new friends in Morningside. We’ve just about to launch iced coffees so she will be a busy girl over the summer months.
The Bear's Larder
15 Colinton Road, Edinburgh