Thomson’s Coffee was founded in 1841 when 24 year old David Thomson, a tea and coffee merchant from Edinburgh, moved with his young family to open his first shop on St Vincent Street in Glasgow. The American Civil War was 20 years away, while the car, phone and electric light bulb were all yet to be invented.
Thomson’s quickly became a Glasgow institution, supplying freshly ground coffee to Glasgow’s coffee houses where stockbrokers and bankers gathered to discuss business and read the journals of the day. In the early 1840’s David Thomson manufactured the Naperian vacuum coffee pot, which had been invented by a fellow Scot, the famous Glasgow engineer James Napier. An immediate success, the Naperian pot was exported all over the world to great acclaim, paving the way for the modern syphon brewer.
David Thomson passed away in 1892 aged 75 and the business was taken over by William Addison, who had been managing the shop on behalf of the Thomson family for some time. Over the years the business was handed down through two generations of the Addison family, with the operation moving from 5 Renfield Street to 102 St Vincent Street, before arriving at 79 Renfield Street.
Due to increased demand, Thomson’s built a custom-fitted roastery on Glasgow’s Southside where the business still resides . today. It was here that our legendary Whitmee Flame roaster was installed — and is still in operation today. Shops were opened in Ayr, Edinburgh and Troon.
In 2005 Thomson’s celebrated shop in Renfield Street closed its doors for the final time and following the retirement of the Addison brothers, the business was put up for sale in 2009.
The Jenkins family acquire the Thomson’s brand, becoming only the third Glasgow family to own the business since David Thomson and his family in 1841.
At Thomson’s we are proud to be an independently-owned Scottish family business with a rich heritage. Quality and integrity are at the heart of everything we do, and since taking the reins we have pursued the same pioneering spirit that our founder David Thomson instilled when he opened his first shop in Glasgow all those years ago.
We embrace our history but are not bound by it, rather our aim is to ally the traditions and artisan techniques of our past with the latest available technology.
With this in mind we have invested in state-of-the art roasting equipment that not only doubles our capacity but also allows us to produce exceptional coffees of unrivalled quality and true provenance.
Of course, we would be nothing without our amazing people, many of whom have been a part of Thomson’s for decades now. Thanks to our continued training and some talented new additions, we now have a tight- knit team that excels at everything from roasting coffee to supporting our loyal customers.
An invention by the famous Glasgow engineer Mr James R. Napier, F.R.S., it was patented by our founder Mr David Thomson of Glasgow.
It consists of a glass globe an infusing jar of glass or porcelain and a bent tube of block tin or German silver fitted by a cork stopper into the neck of the globe and passing to the bottom of the jar, where it ends in a finely perforated disc. The apparatus also requires a spirit lamp or other means of communicating a certain amount of heat to the globe. The coffee is infused with Boiling water in the jar, and a small quantity of boiling water is also placed in the globe. The tube is then fitted in, and the spirit lamp is lighted under the globe. The steam generated expels the air from the globe, and it bubbles up through the jar. When the bubbles of air cease to appear almost the whole of the air will have been ejected, and on withdrawing the lamp the steam in the globe condenses, creating a vacuum, to fill up which the infused coffee rushes up through the metal tube, being at the same, time filtered by the accumulated coffee grounds around the perforated disc
David Thomson exhibited and manufactured the invention and it became a worldwide success. The principles behind the invention are still considered by many enthusiasts to produce the finest cup of coffee.