Edinburgh Coffee Shops
Honest reviews of Edinburgh's coffee shops
Union Brew Lab, meticulously brewed single origin coffee
Fortitude - a chance to sit in a coffee shop again, with a china cup!
Gordon Street Coffee
'ello, 'ello, 'ello . . . . . .Coffee?
Police boxes were first installed in Edinburgh in 1933, to allow police officers on the beat to phone in to their station to report incidents and to receive orders. They were designed by City Architect Ebenezer MacRae and were manufactured by Carron Ironworks in Falkirk. Inevitably, with the progress of technology and specifically the introduction of radios and mobile phones their intended use became redundant.
In 2012 the Scottish Police Authority started to sell off the boxes with the help of Edinburgh City Council and over a period of a few years boxes were either bought and removed, or bought for a change of use. Some were brought into use as Tourist Information Boxes and some were fitted out as coffee kiosks, which required new supplies of electricity and water. Since then many have changed hands and have been used as retail outlets for coffee, food, ice cream, porridge and cannabis oil (I believe).
So I set out earlier this week to see if I could find any which were still operating as coffee outlets.
It was obvious from my travels around the city centre that the majority of coffee shops were still closed due to the lockdown. Footfall was still really low, although there appeared to be a "trickle" of tourists starting to appear around the city.
I did come across one outlet which was open, near Waverley Station at the junction of Waverley Bridge and Market Street called Waverley Cafe. The box was in good order with some attractive ornaments and plants outside. I saw tins of Illy Coffee on the shelf but these were just for show - the girl serving said they had changed from Illy but wasn't sure what the current coffee was.💁 Obviously this outlet is aimed mainly at the tourist market; I'm sure the coffee they sell is good enough but I decided to preserve my potential caffeine intake for now.
I spotted a few more while I drove around, which were obviously still closed due to the lockdown or were not in use.
|The Drip, Morningside|
|The Drip, Tollcross|
Coffee shops coming out of lockdown - nearly!
Spotlight on Allpress Espresso
on Allpress Espresso
I often like to dig deep into a particular subject, to find out more about what's below the surface and so I wanted to add a section in my blog to "Spotlight" areas such as individual coffee shops, roasters, coffee beans etc. My first "Spotlight" is about Allpress Espresso coffee.
I was first drawn to "speciality coffee" in the early '90s after visiting a Seattle Coffee Company coffee shop in Edinburgh's Lothian Road. I loved the feel of the space and a new experience of lounging in a trendy environment with a huge milky espresso based coffee. This was the start of a new "Second Wave" coffee scene and it was fast moving. It was sad to see the Starbuck's takeover of Seattle Coffee Company in the late '90s but soon the whole scene was changing with a huge influx of speciality coffee shops, including large national chain shops such as Costa Coffee and later, Cafe Nero.
Then came a "Third Wave". Entrepreneurial businesses wanted to go further - sourcing the coffee beans themselves and roasting the beans locally to bespoke profiles; and describing the flavours of the various roasts just as a wine connoisseur would do for wines. The beans would have a certifiable traceability where a story could be told about the origin of the bean, down to the Country, Region, individual farm and even the farm workers.
The core products on offer are on the whole, espresso based coffees - espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, etc. - but there has also been a resurgence in filter coffee using various brewing methods. The coffee experts, geeks, aficionados, speak about their preferred brewing method, extraction rates, correct degree of grind, amongst a host of other parameters they like to use to get the best possible result. However, whilst the coffee shop owner can offer this to attract the knowledgeable coffee drinkers, the core offer will usually be a range of espresso based drinks. These can be made from a "single origin" coffee with it's own distinguishing taste, or a blend of coffees to combine the best components from a range of different beans. The large chains such as Costa and Nero have their own bespoke blends which are popular and easily recognisable to their own consumer base. The advantage of these blends are that they are consistent and have "middle-of-the-road" flavours which attract and satisfy a wide following. When you visit a Costa or Nero you know what you're going to get and you will go back again - it's a "safe haven" in today's coffee scene.
Castello Coffee Co
7a Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3AH
While I like to visit lots of coffee shops and try the various different coffees on offer, I always like to have my own "safe haven" (or two) in the back of my mind - sometimes you just need to get some time-out where you know the coffee will be good. Fortunately, with the wide variety of coffee shops available in Edinburgh I'm able to have a number of "safe-havens". One of them is Castello Coffee Co in Castle Street, who use Allpress coffee - a reliable and consistent espresso coffee.
Here's a brief summary of Allpress Espresso:Allpress Espresso is a coffee roaster and ‘espresso specialist’ founded by Michael Allpress in New Zealand, in 1989. Michael started out with a basic coffee machine and cart and has expanded the business into a key player in today's speciality coffee market, supplying independent cafés around the world with a strong focus in New Zealand, Australia, UK, and Japan.
Coffee shops in Edinburgh City Centre
3c York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EB (New Town)
Fortitude Coffee is a speciality coffee roaster in Edinburgh with a coffee shop on York Place. It's a smallish shop with around 12 seats inside and a few seats outside on the steps up from pavement level. I am aware that they opened a second shop at Hamilton Place, Stockbridge just before the covid-19 lock-down was put in place, so I haven't been able to visit yet.
The shop at York Place is easy to miss if you're not paying attention - up a set of steps from the main street. Each time I have visited, the shop has been busy but fortunately on this occasion I was able to get a seat. There are only a few small tables and chairs on one side of the shop, with some retail coffees displayed on shelving above the tables. Along the opposite wall is a long wall bench with stools and I was able to take one of these.
There is always a friendly welcome here and the service is quick, while the staff always appear unhurried. The small counter towards the rear of the shop has a glass display cabinet of tasty looking cakes, pastries and sandwiches; and I ordered a piece of carrot and walnut cake - and a flat white of course. The shop has a great atmosphere, with a nice balance of lively chat and chilled music.
My flat white was excellent. It was expertly made, well balanced with just a wee touch of "fruitiness". Prices are in line with other speciality shops in the area, my flat white was £2.80, a latte costs £2.90 and a pour-over £3.50. Fortitude roast seasonal single origin coffees and the staff are delighted to offer advice on the various beans when asked.
The shop has a toilet facility at the rear. The large window and narrow glazed double doors at the entrance and the light decor helps to provide a cheery and bright interior. The steps up to the entrance from the main road would restrict wheelchair access.
In my opinion this is one of Edinburgh's finest speciality coffee shops and I can't wait to visit their new shop in Stockbridge at some point in the (hopefully, very near) future.
41a Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EP (New Town)
Entrance to the coffee shop is directly from George Street. There is a window bar either side of the entrance door which I always make for, if free. The interior of the shop has a continental look, with wood-panelled walls, large mirrors, small round marble-topped tables and mosaic tiled floor. A long servery counter runs deep into the shop, displaying the range of cakes, pastries, sandwiches and light lunches on offer. As usual, I was happy to order a flat white but it was approaching lunchtime so I added a ham and cheese croissant. I thought at first that the clientele would mostly be business types from the hotel but I couldn't have been more wrong. Burr & Co is a friendly, lively coffee shop which has a good local following.
My coffee and croissant were both excellent. The shop offers the usual espresso based drinks and has a brew bar with single origin coffees from Caravan Coffee, London. The espresso is a bespoke George Street Blend produced for Burr & Co. It was pleasantly chocolatey, with just a hint of fruitiness. I had tasted a few different coffees earlier that day and fancied a cup of tea, so I ordered an Earl Grey to finish off with. The tea was excellent - from speciality tea supplier Shibui Tea based in Loanhead, not far from Edinburgh. The prices in Burr & Co are very reasonable and in line with speciality coffee shops in the area - my flat white cost £2.70 and a latte was priced at £2.90.
Access from the main street is fine for wheelchairs and the shop seats around 26. Although the shop doesn't have a dedicated toilet in the space, you are directed through the back of the shop to the hotel toilets, which is an experience in itself. The toilets are immaculately laid out, with fresh flowers, fancy hand soaps, lotion and individual cotton hand towels.
Whether you visit Burr & Co for one of their excellent coffees or teas, you won't be disappointed. Overall, an excellent coffee shop for some "me time" or to meet a friend.
The interior is bright and modern although small, with around 15 seats - a mixture of small tables with chairs; and some wall bar seating. You enter the shop from the main pavement level and so has good access for wheelchairs; and there are more seats outside. The counter has a display of cakes and sandwiches on offer and the menu board advertises breakfast and brunch including home made soup.
I ordered a flat white and cake; and the service was quick and friendly. Castello use Allpress Espresso - and the coffee was excellent. This is Allpress's signature coffee, a lovely smooth blend with notes of chocolate and caramel; and a wee hint of fruitiness and perhaps even a feint hint of spice? While I enjoyed my coffee and cake it was obvious that the shop has a loyal local following, with a steady flow of take-away orders too.
Overall, Castello Coffee Co is a small, friendly, modern coffee shop, with great coffee and some delicious looking light meals.
Introduction to Edinburgh Coffee Shops Blog
'ello, 'ello, 'ello Police boxes were first installed in Edinburgh in 1933, to allow police officers on the beat to p...
Tuesday, 4th August 2020 The weather was dreich and I was looking for a decent cup of coffee near Edinburgh's Waverley Station. I had a ...
Following my first post listing a few of my favourite coffee shops near to Edinburgh Waverley Station, I have pulled together a further list...