Grams is Edinburgh’s first naked cafe. It offers a realistic approach to healthy food and a focus on cutting out processed junk while keeping things fresh, affordable and creative. While admiring the bright, airy space which sits in sharp relief against the gritty Haymarket streets, we speak to the owner, Lewis, about honest food, the importance of affordability and the relationship between social media and cafe culture.
Can you tell us a little about how Grams began?
I started Grams in 2015, by making some of our original cakes and setting up a stall at Stockbridge Market, a popular weekly food and craft market in Edinburgh. Healthy baking was something I was already interested in, and I hadn't seen anyone else in Edinburgh doing anything like it. I sold out at my first few markets, and immediately knew I was on to something. Now we have a cafe in the Haymarket area of Edinburgh selling both sweet and savoury foods.
You seem to have a very realistic approach to health food —why is affordability so important to you? Is there a certain snobbery surrounding healthy eating that you’re trying to diminish?
Eating healthy can be expensive. Sure, a salad will only set you back a little; but salads are often unbalanced, containing very few carbohydrates or slathered in sauces with a high sugar content. We spend a lot of our time trying to make every dish affordable, balanced and tasty: each of these qualities are of equal importance.
Is there any particular food culture, international or otherwise, which has influenced your brand and menu development?
My sister lives in Melbourne, Australia, and they take their healthy eating very seriously. Raw cakes and juice bars seem to be everywhere, not to mention the incredibly high standard of coffee. I think Edinburgh is sometimes a little behind on certain food trends, but recently I'm seeing more hints of a shift towards healthier, more wholesome and more exciting food.
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Do you like to experiment with unusual flavour combinations in your cakes, and if so, does working solely in whole ingredients limit your experimentation in any way?
We definitely like to mess around with flavour! We use classic savoury combinations that you don't often see in cakes: like strawberry and basil. Our ingredients definitely limit us to a certain degree, but we are planning to introduce some protein cakes, and cakes which are cooked, which should give us a few more ingredients to play with.
What’s your best selling cake? 
Our ‘snickers’ bar is probably our best selling cake. Everyone loves peanut butter!
Your vibrant food photography has amassed a growing Instagram following. How has social media played a part in the growth of Grams?
Social media has been massively important in shaping our development as a small, independent business. I started selling at Stockbridge Market on an extremely tight budget, so it was difficult to reach anyone who wasn't also there in person. Our cakes and savoury bowls are colourful and easy on the eye, so Instagram was an effective way to reach the masses. However, we try to be slightly different to other health food places on social media: a bit more realistic, and without all of that ‘you should only eat a certain diet’ nonsense. It's all about balance, and I think that’s an attractive concept to a lot of people.
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How do you think social media is affecting food and cafe culture in general? 
I think it's good for smaller businesses, because they can reach thousands of people for free. On the other hand, it has also created a phenomenon whereby people expect an unrealistically high standard of presentation for that all-important Instagram post. Our cakes are attractive because of the vibrant natural ingredients, but I teach my guys to make great coffee first and foremost before messing around with latte art. Sometimes it's not all about the aesthetic.
Are there any lessons you’ve learned while growing an independent business? 
It's hard! I know that's what everyone says, but it is difficult to describe the mental fatigue. There's always something to think about. The main lesson I’ve learned is to surround yourself with a solid team: people you would be happy to leave in charge. If you can't get away from the business for five minutes, you have to find a new team.
Finally, are there any exciting developments in the works for Grams? What are your wishes for the future of the business? 
We have just launched on a home delivery service, but we also have a few other things in the works at Grams! We are hoping to have some high protein cakes on the menu soon, which will be another good low calorie option for people, as well as a ready meal range providing a well-balanced meal for customers to make at home. We will also be looking to work with —and deliver to— gyms and crossfit boxes around Edinburgh, which is exciting.
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