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Published March 20th 2017
Exploring Edinburgh's speciality coffee shop scene
Edinburgh has a strong independent coffee shop scene, great for all caffeine lovers! Yet this can make it a little confusing when deciding where to go. So, I've compiled this list of the best independent, artisan coffee spots in the capital.
Cairngorm occupy two premises in the city centre, but my favourite is their West End cafe. With cool, bright, minimalist interiors, this space is perfect for meeting friends or spending a couple of hours relaxing, reading or working.
Enjoy some of the best coffee in Edinburgh, beautiful artisan sandwiches/brunch menu options and a selection of delicious cakes. For tea lovers there's also a great selection of loose leaf teas to warm you up on a cold Edinburgh day!
Wandering around Princes Street and New Town? Head to their Frederik Street home. Scrolling through the West End? Pop into the Melville Street premises.
This cosy little spot is perfectly located at the foot of the beautiful and historic Cockburn Street, just off the Royal Mile and a couple of minutes from Princes Street. With cool decor, a relaxed atmosphere, a range of yummy cakes and artisan coffee, the Milkman is a definite must for coffee lovers. All this and a cute little window seat, perfect for watching the world go by.
This Swedish artisan bakery and coffee house is a must go for all coffee/pastry/bread/pizza/cake fiends. They own 5 sites around the city, either under the name Soderberg or Peter's Yard, but our personal favourite spot is the Soderberg Pavilion in the Quartermile. What's lovely about this particular one is that it's situated in a modern, glass building, meaning it's fresh and light, and the perfect spot to sit and stare out at the world (or at least the Quartermile) They prepare artisan pizzas in the middle of the space with a fantastic looking wood fired pizza oven, so even if you just went in for a coffee and cake, you're surrounded by the fantastic smells and scents of pizza and fresh ingredients.
For the warmer months there's a lovely outdoor seating area. For the most part of the year however, the cosy indoors are decorated in true minimalist scandi style.
As well as supplying great, artisan coffee, these guys have delicious goods to tuck into. Their Swedish baked goodness is freshly made on site, and as well as their classics, including cardamon buns, mazarin, Kladdkaka (mud cake), cinnamon buns and chocolate balls, there always seems to be something new to chose from.
A relatively new comer to the speciality coffee scene in Edinburgh, Thomas J Walls offer a huge, elegant premises, excellent coffee, a delicious brunch/lunch menu, and when it's cold, a roaring fire. What more could you ask for?
Hula Juice Cafe
Hula Juice Cafe is colourful, playful, and serves up delicious healthy homemade foods and juices to match. I realise this is a juice cafe, but Hula actually does delicious, speciality coffee from Artisan Roast. What makes this place unique is its yummy, healthy menu and unbeatable location at the foot of Victoria Street in the Grassmarket.
Looking for great coffee and food? Try the likes of avocado sourdough toast, a range of bagels, fresh fruit salad, granola, homemade and Scottish porridge. Needing a boost? Go all out with an Acai Bowl, a yummy bowl of superfood goodness. As well as soups, wraps and sandwiches, there's always a great selection of cakes and brownies on offer. Of course, being a juice cafe, Hula's speciality lies in mixing up delicious, healthy juices, smoothies and shakes, if you've got room.
Lovecrumbs is a must-go for anyone who loves coffee and cake!
As well as serving up delicious coffee by Steampunk and other guest roasters, these guys do a selection of Anteaques Teas and Coco Chocolatier Hot Chocolates, and their speciality, fresh, home-made cakes. Their selections change daily, but expect the likes of blueberry & lemon cake, cardamom & coffee cake, gooseberry, almond & spelt cake or mango, raspberry & orange! Although once a cake-only cafe, they've recently started serving savoury food, so even if you don't have a sweet tooth, this place is worth visiting.
Their cool vintage style means that you could find yourself sat at an old piano, round a communal table, on a comfy sofa or in the window seat looking out onto West Bow. This place is busy, cluttered and cool.
This place is handy if you're pottering around Princes Street and need a wee break. Situated on George Street, you can imagine that this place is delightful inside and out. Serving up Caravan coffee, which was voted best coffee by the Observer Food Monthly, this is a great place to go get your coffee fix. They also serve up breakfast, toasties and homemade cakes. Win/win.
Find Machina Espresso in two city centre locations: Nicholson Street or Brougham Street. Serving coffee from their own Roastery as well as monthly guests, offering a daily choice of two espressos, a choice of up to three filter coffees, and tea from local business Anteaques, these guys know their coffee. If you're as passionate as them, you can buy your share of speciality kit from their stores.
A lovely chilled out space to enjoy speciality coffee. Their menu is simple, consisting of 'coffee' and 'not coffee', so you can see where their priorities lie. I think that's enough said...?
This place is renowned for supplying amazing speciality coffee in a run-down style spot just off Nicholson Street. *Attention all coffee fans* Brew Lab offer the ultimate filter coffee experience. Using top speciality coffees from roasters around the UK and Europe, coffee lovers are never short of options with a filter menu that changes frequently. Those less inclined towards black coffee can enjoy rich lattes, capuchinos, mochas, hot chocolates and a selection of loose leaf teas (all top notch.)
With a food menu that offers artisinal soups by Union of Genius, handmade sourdough baguettess, pastries by Twelve Triangles, cakes by Lovecrumbs and rich healthy salads, you're spoilt for choice.
Tucked away in Edinburgh's recently renovated Arches, Baba Budan is trendy, contemporary, and bright. If you're lucky and the weather's being kind you can even sit outside! This coffee and doughnut shop is perfect if you're wandering around the Royal Mile or checking out the delights of the independent shops that inhabit The Arches. Their speciality lies in making doughnuts fresh on their premises every day, but they also serve up other treats.
Fortitude may only occupy a small space, but they are big in the Edinburgh coffee scene. In the New Town? Head here for delicious coffee roasted by their sister company, Fortitude Coffee Roasters. They offer seasonal coffee and offer a guest roaster each month — perfect.
So, there's Leo's Beanery in the New Town, and Leo's at Dovecot, in the Dovecot Studios just off Nicholson Street in the Old Town. Until very recently there was also Leo & Teds in Bruntsfield, but this has sadly jut closed. Whichever one you decide to go to, however, you're guaranteed an excellent coffee experience. I personally enjoy popping in to Leo's at Dovecot before or after exploring the delights of the landmark contemporary centre for the arts, Dovecot Studios.
I love this place. Boasting delicate interiors, amazing coffee and an ever changing variety of homemade cakes, Fieldwork offers the perfect combination. They source their goods locally, using Steampunk coffee from North Berwick, loose leaf teas from Edinburgh company, Anteaques, and milk from local farmers. There's such a calm atmosphere in here, and being a bit more hidden away, it can be a wee bit quieter than Edinburgh's other coffee shops.
This basement coffee house never fails to deliver excellent coffee in a charming little space. Located just off Princes Street this is the perfect little resting place for tired legs in need of a caffeine boost. Wellington's premises are small, but they do have seating outside, making it the perfect spot for when the sun's shining.
Century General Store
A haven for all lovers of interiors and design, Century General Store not only provide top notch coffee, but they are vendors of a beautiful range of homeware and gifts. Be prepared to spend a while in here.
To finish off the best artisan coffee shops, what could be more fitting than Artisan Roast? They roast their own coffee and it is delicious. Find their trendy cafes on Broughton Street in the New Town, in Stockbridge, or in Bruntsfield.