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Coffee Direct, West Lothian's premium coffee roastery

The smell of good coffee; a roasting machine; bags of different coffee beans and lots of coffee paraphernalia greets you as you walk into the Scottish Barista Academy in Livingston.

“Have I just walked into heaven?” I ask as Jim Watson, West Lothian resident, Scottish Barista Academy MD and certified coffee expert, emerges.

First things first, I need a coffee. “Do you drink filter coffee?” Jim asks. Because, you see, depending on whether you want filter, cafetiere or espresso coffee determines how he will select and grind the beans. There is no “all-purpose” coffee here.

Arabica, Robusta, single-origin, espresso, aero-press, filter, bitter, sweet, acidic, Columbian, Brazilian, lungo, ristretto... the terminology of coffee can be as mysterious to the uninitiated as the legendary origins of coffee itself – and that’s before we even start on the list of coffees on a typical café menu (latte, cappuccino, Americano, macchiato, mocha…).

The variety of coffee, where it’s grown, the way it is processed, roasted, ground, packaged and brewed all affect the way it tastes when it reaches your taste buds. If “all” you want is a good cup of coffee, it pays to find out at least a little about it.

The Scottish Barista Academy was launched in 2013 and is where café owners, restaurateurs, and baristas from all over the UK (and further afield) come to learn about coffee. In new premises at Newyearfield, Livingston, this is the only place in the UK where you can become qualified in all levels of the Specialty Coffee Association accreditations, an international organisation encompassing training in every element of the coffee production process.

Jim is the first and only person in the UK and Ireland to hold all the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) professional qualifications as well as the SCA Coffee Diploma, meaning that he really knows his coffee. If you are serious about your coffee, and want to learn more, the Scottish Barista Academy is the place to visit.

If you are serious about your coffee, you come here

And if you don’t want to learn but just want to drink coffee, you can buy incredibly fresh coffee - roasted and ground by the hand of one of the country’s leading coffee professionals.

After a career in the army, followed by a directorship of a data communications company, how did Jim end up in coffee? As he grinds the beans and starts making my morning coffee, he tells me how it all started.

A lover of hill walking, after a memorable cold wet hike in the Trossachs in 1988, Jim was desperate for a coffee. The one he was served in the café he alighted upon was woefully bad; all coffee lovers will relate to the bitter disappointment he felt as the acidic offering hit his taste buds. When he complained, the challenge from the café owner, “Well, could you do any better?” was what started Jim on his coffee journey. He was looking for a change of direction in his working life anyway so, along with his wife Maggie, set about learning all there is to know about coffee.

Coffee is extremely reactive and sensitive stuff, and the coffee business is not for the faint-hearted. But Jim’s passion and knowledge is phenomenal. He maintains close links with suppliers in the countries where his coffee is produced and his attention to the details of the roasting and grinding process is second to none.

His business, Coffee Direct, has been supplying the hospitality trade all over Scotland since he took good coffee back to the disgruntled café owner of the original story and showed him how to make it. The café owner then became one of Jim’s first customers.

Coffee Direct has recently started selling coffee online to retail customers. Your online coffee order is specially hand-roasted, ground and dispatched here in Livingston, within 48 hours.

A little known fact about Jim – he loves to start the day very early with a cup of tea, preferably watching the sun come up with a view over the Bathgate hills, before heading off to share the wonderful world of coffee with as many people as possible.

Your online coffee order is specially hand-roasted, ground and dispatched here in Livingston, within 48 hours.

Order exceptional freshly ground coffee at Enter coupon code ‘cofkon10’ at the checkout for a 10% discount on your first order.

For more information on the Scottish Barista Academy, visit

For more information on Coffee Direct and to order coffee, visit

Wholesale coffee:

If you run or work in a café or restaurant and need to boost your coffee skills or increase sales, please contact Jim. Via his wholesale business, Coffee Direct, Jim supplies his specially selected and roasted coffee and will provide full barista training here at the Scottish Barista Academy for you and/or your employees*. (*Terms and Conditions apply) please contact 07720 509457 or email for details

Published in Konect October 2019

Author: Helen-Jane Shearer


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