HOLYROOD bosses organised a coffee-tasting session for MSPs after they moaned about the quality of the brew served up at meetings.
Politicians complained their cuppas were not up to standard – and lodged protests with the cross-party committee which runs the Scottish Parliament’s internal affairs.
But today one parliament insider said: “I was gobsmacked. The idea that MSPs are complaining about coffee when you think of everything else that’s going on is unbelievable. I’ve never had any problem with the coffee here.
“Surely there are more important things for MSPs to be concerning themselves with.”
MSPs can order tea and coffee – and biscuits and muffins – when they have meetings at the parliament with constituents or others.
And refreshments are also available at some committee meetings.
But several MSPs who wanted a better class of coffee complained to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, which decided to arrange a “blind” tasting session in the parliament’s new bar, the Queensberry House Lounge, and invited MSPs and their staff to take part.
They were offered four different coffees to try and asked to pick their favourite, with the votes recorded using coffee beans.
But two of the coffees got an equal number of votes – and now a second tasting session has been organised for next week to make a final choice.
Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale – who was not aware of the tasting session – said: “Most people will hear this and think politicians need to wake up and smell the coffee.
“It’s stories like this that make MSPs look so out of touch with what really matters. If they don’t like the coffee they can bring their own.”
She said she had no complaints about the coffee herself, adding: “I’ve never really stopped to think about it. I see coffee more as a fuel, I’m not obsessed by the way it tastes.
“I’ve never wanted to spit it out, but perhaps I don’t have such refined tastes as some of my colleagues.”
One MSP’s aide, who attended the tasting, said: “They gave us four coffees to taste. I found it quite difficult to choose one from another.
“It’s the coffee they serve at committee meetings, functions and when MSPs meet constituents. They have always used the same one up to now, but they said they’d had complaints.
“We weren’t asked to rank them in order of preference, just say which one we liked best.”
News of the second tasting came in an e-mail to MSPs from a parliament official, which said: “Thank you very much to those of you who were able to attend the coffee tasting and for placing your coffee bean vote.
“After counting up the beans two coffees received an equal number of votes. Therefore, we would like to invite you all to come back and taste these two coffees to get a clear winner.”
‘Once you’ve tasted a good cup of coffee there is no going back’
AWARD-WINNING city barista Catherine O’Shea says there is nothing snobbish about liking a good cup of coffee.
The 24-year-old manager at Artisan Roast in Broughton Street said: “You want to be able to taste a coffee and get the right flavour and not have to add sugar.”
She said the key factors which went into making a good coffee were quality beans from a good farm, using the beans within three weeks of them being roasted – which will help avoid deterioration in the flavour – and getting the right proportions of coffee to water.
“Once you have tasted a good cup of coffee there is no going back,” Ms O’Shea said.