Yes, heart palpitations be damned, we’re serious about coffee. We’d rather gauge our eyes out with a piece of rusty wire, than waste money at Starbucks and its evil ilk. Fortunately, Edinburgh is now awash with truly great coffee. And after much debate, here are five of our favourites:
1. Wellington Coffee
Not only are the flat whites top notch, expect to pay a lot less than you would for the absolute pish they serve at the chains. Add to that a homemade scone with preserves plus a dollop of clotted cream, and life doesn’t get any better. Just one catch: depending on your mindset, the venue is either intimate and trendy, or challenging to get a table. Still, good coffee requires sacrifice.
33a George Street, EH2 2HN
2. Baba Budan
This relative newcomer to our world of great coffee also makes its own doughnuts. With fillings like salted caramel, cornflake custard, and even Baileys & cream we began salivating as soon as we walked through the door.
And in case you’re wondering … the café’s named after a holy man who smuggled seven beans out of Yemen, effectively bringing coffee to the world. Well done that man!
Our sage advice: start next door at the Chop House, order a steak and sourdough sandwich, with bernaise and bone marrow gravy (from the weekdays express menu). Then for dessert head to Baba Budan for doughnuts and coffee. Boom!
The Arches on East Market Street, EH8 8BE
3. Fortitude Coffee
The story goes this coffee shop used to be a cobbler’s, but when dad retired, the son had no interest in carrying on the family business. While that’s a little heart-breaking, the upside is we have yet another place to drink perfectly brewed triple shot flat whites. Add to that sandwich combinations that defy convention, soup from Union of Genius, and you most definitely have a happy ending.
3c York Place, EH1 3EB
4. Lowdown Coffee
If like Isaac you see shopping as a calling, then this basement venue obscured by George Street’s many shops is pretty easy to miss. But assuming you don’t make such a rookie error, you’ll find flat whites that boast the perfect temperature, strength and froth. And that’s not even the best part.
The owners have also searched the town for the best possible cakes, and believe us they’ve succeeded. The smart choice, fellow fatties, has to be the carrot cake. Bursting with flavour, unbelievably moist, and with a bonus layer of icing mid-cake, it is just incredible!
40 George Street, EH2 2LE
5. Cairngorm Coffee
With two branches, it seems not all coffee chains are evil. This one’s f**king brilliant. For a start, the coffee’s fabulous. Even more encouraging, they employ many an Aussie, which is usually a guarantee of great coffee-making. But even better, they have a cheese toastie that is – as far as we’re concerned – absolutely life changing. Three types of cheese with chilli jam, O-M-G!!!
41a Frederick Street, EH2 1EP / 1 Melville Place, EH3 7PR
VERY Honourable mentions:
Milk, Calton Hill (offering stunning 360 degree views of Edinburgh)
Century General Store, Abbeyhill
Castello Coffee Co, Castle Street
Brew Lab, South College Street