Edinburgh’s vast coffee landscape covers a varying terrain. From recognisable chains to independent spots hidden amongst the winding cobblestones of Old Town, there is something for everyone. Such a choice of cafés and coffee bars can leave you not knowing where to begin, so start with these spots to find the best coffee in Edinburgh.
Describing itself as a “home away from home” for both locals and travellers, Brew Lab can be found just one street away from The University of Edinburgh’s Old College. This artisan coffee bar displays a uniquely limited but refined menu, dedicated to serving single-origin coffee, produced by their partner Union Hand-Roasted. Brew Lab serves two different filter coffees and espressos each day, one best served black and the other perfectly complemented with milk. Brew Lab is small so is often busy, but its cosy and friendly atmosphere coupled with its rich and flavourful coffee makes it an unmissable Edinburgh coffee stop.
Arriving in Edinburgh in 1998 and its name originating from what Native Americans allegedly once called coffee, Black Medicine is a small, independent establishment that sits on Nicholson Street. This is a unique spot, cosily furnished with natural wood and almost always filled with students catching up on studying or enjoying a lunch break from the library. Black Medicine offers a vast menu of tea, coffee, smoothies and food. Go early to get a seat in the window and watch the rest of Edinburgh wake up with an oat milk latte and a warm, toasted bagel.
Thomas J. Walls Coffee
Just across from the National Museum of Scotland on Forrest Road, Thomas J. Walls was once an opticians, which is still recognisable from the preserved lettering at its entrance. Its aesthetic window display of house plants will draw you in, but it’s long black coffee and pumpkin seed avocado toast will make you stay. With plenty of seating and no WiFi, this is the perfect place to meet with friends and switch off.
The Pavilion Café
Perfect for those (rare) warmer days in Edinburgh, the Pavilion Café finds its home on the outskirts of The Meadows. Renovated from an old vandalised pavilion, this spot is a relaxed and natural community space, serving vegetarian food and drinks from local suppliers. The Pavilion Café embodies an authentic and inviting sense of community whilst serving some of the best coffee in Edinburgh. Closed between mid-December and the beginning of March to hibernate from Scotland’s harsh winter, try to make the most of those cherry blossom views from the Pavilion Café in the summer months.
With a total of 8 locations, 7 of which are in Edinburgh, Söderberg is an authentically Swedish café serving a huge range of coffee, pastries and sandwiches. Enjoy a cup of coffee made from beans roasted in Sweden with their most popular bakery item, Kardemummabulle (a cardamom bun). Söderberg’s Quartermile location is one of their most beautiful and refined cafés, with its floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Middle Meadow Walk. Cosy and warm in winter, open and sunny in summer, Söderberg is definitely one of the best places to get your coffee in Edinburgh.
Homed in a restored confectionary shop, The Milkman is a small, independent coffee shop on Edinburgh’s Cockburn Street. With exposed brick walls, its original shop sign and a capacity of only fourteen seats, The Milkman is intimate, authentic and welcoming. Serving simple espresso-based drinks from UK suppliers as well as a selection of fresh pastries, The Milkman is both a pitstop on your morning commute or a quiet spot to sit and read.