Introductory Post

I'm lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of my time visiting my favourite coffee shops in and around Edinburgh, so I decided to write this blog to share my experiences. Edinburgh has a great range of coffee shops, from smaller independent businesses to the larger chain coffee shops. My own preference is to use the smaller independent shops when I can but some of my family and friends like to visit the larger chain outlets, so I will try to cover a wide variety of the coffee shops available.

Of course, it is not possible to visit any coffee shops at the moment due to the covid-19 "lock-down". So I thought I would start my blog with a brief snapshot of just a few of my favourites, which I visited last month just prior to the lock-down. These are all pretty close to Edinburgh Waverley Station and a good nearby choice if you are travelling by train. There are the usual chain coffee shops inside the station complex such as Costa, Pret and Cafe Nero but there are also a number of coffee shops nearby which offer the choice of speciality coffees.

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The Milkman
7 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BP (Old Town)

The Milkman is a small independent coffee shop situated towards the bottom of Cockburn Street which has a striking authentic shop front. Although restricted to around 10 seats internally, the interior of the shop is lovely with exposed stone and brick, striking industrial type light fittings and some attractive plants in hanging baskets. The shop is accessible to wheelchairs however there are no toilet facilities. Outdoor seating is provided.
Good quality coffee is served here and prices are average in comparison to similar speciality coffee shops in the area – I ordered a Flat White at £2.70, a latte costs £2.80, a black coffee £2.40 and filter coffee £2.60. My Flat White was well presented with the obligatory rosette drawn with the foamed milk, although the fuller than medium roast was a bit too strong for me. Speciality loose leaf teas are available at £2.80. There was a small range of cakes and tray bakes on display although I didn’t try anything at this visit.
The shop was full at my visit – I took the last vacant seat. Most people were lingering over a coffee, a few working on laptops or smart phones. There was some nice chilled music being played and the chat level was low so the atmosphere was cosy and quiet.
Overall, a very pleasant visit with good quality coffee.

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The Wall Coffee & Design House

45 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BP (Old Town)
The Wall Coffee & Design House is an independent coffee shop situated midway up Cockburn Street. It has an eye-catching shop front with a (fully working) copper Victoria Arduino espresso machine positioned proudly at the window. The interior of the shop is also eye-catching, with exposed stone and brick walls and furnished with industrial type benches and stools. I think the interior is great, if a little confusing - I believe the shop is named after Pink Floyd’s “The Wall" but the “Design House" in the name threw me a bit. Place your order at the counter and your drinks and food are brought to your table.
The shop is accessible to wheelchairs although most of the tables are high with bar stools. There is a single toilet cubicle, which has been formed by partitioning off an area in the far corner of the shop. The toilet includes what looks like the original stone fire place in the room, which makes the toilet look quirky and quite cute. Outdoor seating is provided.
The coffee is made on the Victoria Arduino espresso machine and the beans are of an Italian type, medium roast blend. Prices are expensive though in comparison to similar speciality coffee shops in the area – I ordered a Flat White at £3.45, a latte costs £3.15 and a black coffee £2.95. (Yikes!). My flat white was nicely presented and was smooth and with a pleasant nutty background. Speciality loose leaf teas are available from £3.15. (The shop has a minimum order of £5.00.)
There was a small range of cakes on display at the counter however the presentation wasn’t great. Only one portion of each cake was on display in the cabinet, each wrapped in cling film. They didn’t look particularly appealing so I plumped for a croissant from an open display on the counter and it was fresh and a perfect accompaniment to the coffee. Toasties (£6.45), Panini (£7.95) and Sandwiches (£7.95) are also available, as are “Hand Made Greek Pies” advertised on the menu boards and a variety of salads.
The shop wasn’t busy at my visit so I had the pick of the 30 or so seats. I decided not to flaunt myself on the comfy looking sofa at the front window and sat at one of the high tables and stools positioned along the main wall.
Overall, a very pleasant visit with nice coffee but a bit expensive. Intriguing interior.

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Gordon Street Coffee
6 Market Street Edinburgh EH1 1DE  (Old Town)

Gordon Street Coffee is a small batch coffee producer based in Glasgow. In addition to their main Glasgow outlet, they have opened a second shop situated in Edinburgh’s Market Street, adjacent to Waverley Station – so very handy for a caffeine shot if you’re travelling by train. At the time of my visit construction work was being carried out in the Market Street area including a great deal of scaffolding and contractor vehicles (and noise), however this eventually decreases as you reach the clean lines of the new looking shop. The shop has a modern bright interior with large floor to ceiling windows running the length of the shop. The long servery counter displays a selection of cakes and pastries; and a large mouthwatering display of chocolate truffles. The shop has a single accessible toilet and is accessible to wheelchairs. Seating is provided outside.

You can't help but notice the roasting machine at the far end of the shop and roasting takes place in full view of the customers, with roasting days advertised on the wall boards. I ordered a flat white at £2.80 which was the House Blend and was nicely presented. An “Edinburgh Blend" is also available but is a darker roast and a bit too strong for me. The House Blend was lovely though – well balanced with just a hint of “nuttyness”. A latte also costs £2.80, a long black £2.50 and filter coffee at £2.20. A range of teas are also available.
As well as the cakes (and chocolates) displayed, the menu lists a few hot food choices also available. The chap seated next to me had soup and a toasted sandwich and I must say they looked delicious.
Overall, a very nice modern coffee shop with great coffee; and the opportunity to watch coffee beans being roasted. 

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Williams & Johnson Coffee Co
Waverley Mall, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BQ (New Town)

Williams & Johnson Coffee Co is a small speciality coffee roaster based in Edinburgh, with their flagship store and roastery in Leith. They opened a second shop in Princes Street in 2018, situated above Waverley Mall, set back from Princes Street and in the shadow of the imposing Balmoral Hotel. The shop has a modern bright interior with large windows to the front, looking out onto Princes Street. 
The interior has a contemporary (Scandic) look with a mix of light coloured wood and bare plywood on the walls. The shop has around 30 seats inside, a mix of bench style tables and stools; and a few sets of tables and chairs. Additional seating is available in a room behind the main counter which appears to be used for small events - currently a pop-up book shop.
The counter display has a selection of cakes and sandwiches with soup and toasties advertised on the menu board. I had a flat white (£2.80) - a latte also costs £2.80 and filter coffee at £2.20. A range of teas are also available at £2.50. I thought the thin foam topping on my flat white was a little bit thin and my wee latte art “rosette" disappeared fairly quickly but the coffee tasted ok.

Overall, a bright modern coffee shop right in the centre of Edinburgh with decent coffee. Perhaps a bit "IKEA-ish" looking inside to create an atmosphere in which I would want to linger a while.

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1 comment:

  1. I haven’t been to any of these coffee spots as yet but as a coffee / cake lover I shall definitely try them out!
    This Blog is well written and gives a lot of insight into each place.
    I look forward to more of your reviews once this Covid-19 lockdown is over!


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