From mouth watering pork and black pudding sausage rolls, to quirky concoctions which include peanut butter, banana, and raspberry jam toasties – you’d be foolish to cycle on past Ride Coffee House at Banchory.
It has become the go to stop for locals and cycle enthusiasts alike, and co-owner Simon Burnside is no stranger to the great outdoors.
From mountain biking to snowboarding, Simon turned his dare devil nature into a business, by launching his own outdoor and sports equipment shop.
Kitting people out has had to take a back seat however, partly because restrictions meant people couldn’t travel far to do the sports they loved.
As luck would have it, Simon also launched Ride Coffee House, which has continued to grow in popularity.
We caught up with him and discovered why the local community has been on board from day one.
Tell us about yourself, how did you meet Juliette, wife and co owner of the business?
Juliette and I have been together for 25 years now, and married since 2003.
She’s from Paris originally and her working background is in catering.
She came over to Aberdeen to study at the time, which is when we met. She’s still not quite picked up Doric that great though.
I was born in Aberdeen and grew up in the north-east. My interests since I’ve been young have been in snowboarding, cycling, mountain biking and stuff. This all led into the themes of what Ride Coffee House is about.
The winter of 2020, we had a great winter of snow but we couldn’t really do anything because of lockdown and people couldn’t travel from abroad, so that really affected things.
So, Ride Coffee House came about as means of adding another string to our bow. But now, it has become the main focus and Boarderline has taken a bit of a stepback.
What inspired you to make the idea for Ride a reality?
We wanted to relocate out of Aberdeen city centre.
We live in Aboyne so Banchory is a lot closer to home and it’s a really nice town as well. We figured that we could relocate Boarderline and people could also still buy online if they wanted to, but also add Ride to the overall experience with the help of Juliette’s hospitality experience.
Does the café also tie in with popularity of cycling in the local area?
Obviously the name Ride comes from riding bikes and snowboards, which is what we like to do.
The café is pretty popular with bike riders of all disciplines.
Road bikers come out from Aberdeen for a nice coffee stop in Banchory then had back along South Deeside Road. The mountain bike scene is also really big at the moment, particularly in Deeside.
So, a lot of them come down and visit either before or after riding at Scolty, which is a local spot here for mountain biking. We’re not exclusively for bikers, but we’re definitely bike friendly.
When did Ride first open its doors?
We moved out to Banchory in 2018 and opened on November 2018, so pretty much three years ago.
Within a little over of a year after opening though, Covid came round.
The business had to shut, but we reopened on a takeaway basis and things began to get busier and busier.
We adapted to make things work and we’ve ended up being busier than ever, as a result.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
Obviously, the big unexpected was Covid which happened smack bang in the middle of our journey so far. It was a massive shock when it happened.
But when the dust settled and came away, it actually gave us the chance to adapt our offerings.
Being in independent retail beforehand, you have to adapt a lot and you can make those decisions quickly being owner managed.
We reopened as a takeaway as we weren’t allowed people inside, but we were lucky because we had a good amount of outside space. We initially questioned whether or not it’d be worth it, but we thought we’d give it a try and it turned out to work.
We’ve had a lot of support from the local community. People were generally quite pleased that we were keeping things going during the early days of lockdown.
Simple pleasures like a takeaway coffee or food were pretty high on the agenda for a lot of people because there wasn’t much else you could do. We did our best to keep the wheels turning and we got a lot of support from people which helped.
We’ve learned a lot and ended up in not too bad a place, despite the challenges.
What are your most popular offerings?
We work exclusively with a coffee roaster in Glasgow called Dear Green. It’s an independent roastery based there and we’ve worked with them for the last few years. Brazil beans are what we use for our house coffee, which are really good.
We make our own brand chutney which is really popular. It’s the chutney we use in a lot of our sandwiches and ciabattas and people can buy jars of it to take home. We do a spicy gooseberry flavour, hot chilli and a few other flavours too, which are all really good. People can also buy retail size bags of the coffee beans from Dear Green if they like.
We do a range of coffees that you’d usually expect like cappuccinos and americanos. In addition to that, we do luxury hot chocolates including Nutella hot chocolate and peppermint hot chocolate. Especially at this time of year, they’re going down really well. Smoothies are also popular on the drinks front.
We’ve been broadening the menu in the last few months or so to include a lot more vegan options. There are always gluten free and vegan options on a daily basis. We also have a big cake counter with cakes and traybake items. We’re constantly experimenting with new stuff.
What makes Ride Coffee House stand out from other businesses in the north-east?
The most commented thing that we get on reviews across various platforms are for the friendliness of the staff.
We’ve had a few of the staff since the beginning which is great in this industry. They’re all super dedicated and friendly, which is what people want. People don’t want to go to a place where there’s some downbeat, moping people behind the counter, you know? Everyone’s motivated and happy.
I also think there’s a nice clean, contemporary vibe to the place. It’s fresh and the food and drink is also good. We do things simply, but we do them well. We don’t have a massive menu that gets overcomplicated or has been the same for the last 12 months. We introduce new things alongside favourites, which is what people like.
A Q&A with Simon Burnside
What is the most underrated drink?
Water! Glug it daily.
If you were a drink, what would you be and why?
A cold pint of draft Tennents – make of that what you will.
What’s in your drinks cabinet at home?
Wine – red mostly – cold beers and some whisky.
What is the most unusual drink you’ve ever tried?
I’m still not down with a turmeric latte.
What’s your worst experience with a drink?
Tequila, as a young man. I can now tolerate it slightly better.
Best food and drink pairing?
Pink duck breast and a good Bordeaux.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three drinks would be there with you?
Deeside Mineral Water, an Aeropress coffee maker plus a kilo of Dear Green’s Brazil beans, and a few good bottles of Saint Emillion.