Coffee Shops and Cafes: Five Special Spots in Edinburgh

By Beatrix Swanson Scott 


Edinburgh’s lighthouse within the Fringe storm has to be its profusion of excellent coffee shops – whether you’re after cute and cozy, cool and swanky or (very) hipster, every part of town seems to have excellent spots on offer. I’ve spent a lot of time typing up reviews, trawling the Fringe programme or simply recharging my batteries (literal and figurative) in Edinburgh’s many cafes. Rather than acting as a definitive guide to the best, this article offers up a selection of five of the city’s coffee shops that are dear to me for one reason or another.





Lovecrumbs – 155 West Port 

This spot on West Port near Edinburgh College of Art had to be first on the list. Lovecrumbs, which until recently served only cake, is an Edinburgh institution. I recommend the warming cardamom hot chocolate to go with your sweet treats – it tastes especially good when balanced on the old piano which serves as one of the café’s random assortment of tables. Otherwise, the sought-after window seat is a rather cool place to hang out (once you’ve manoeuvred yourself into it).


Peter’s Yard – Quartermile 

Peter’s Yard is where I had brunch on my 18th birthday in September 2015 – I had stayed on a while after the Fringe that year. This Scandinavian-inspired bakery-café’s pastries are delicious; I especially like the cardamom buns. Right on the meadows, it’s a lovely central place to go for a light meal – and I am told their pizzas are amazing as well.


Filament – 38 Clerk Street 

I discovered this place back when it was located in India Buildings on Victoria Street – the window seats at the back of the high-ceilinged, cleanly hipster shop provided a welcome oasis around the corner from the hubbub of the Royal Mile. I took a shine to the unique name, and therefore went back when it moved to smaller premises on diverse, studenty Clerk Street. Though the move meant losing those wonderful ceilings, it’s still a great place to go for a bite and a well-made coffee.


Press Coffee – 30 Buccleuch Street 

This cute little place just around the corner from George Square (perfect for Fringe staff) serves good coffee and breakfasts, in an atmosphere that’s always friendly and bustling. I’ve done a lot of early-morning writing here. I recommend the delicious scones with jam and clotted cream. Bonus: their blue china on marble table has great Instagram value!


Mary’s Milk Bar – 19 Grassmarket 

Alright, this isn’t really a coffee shop. But there was no way I could leave it off the list. One of my favourite ice cream places in the world, this little place on the Grassmarket serves an eclectic rotating selection of homemade gelatos (from ‘Tea & Jam’ to ‘Candied Violet’) with distinctly vintage flair. Milkshakes, hot chocolate floats and, yes, coffee, are also available, and I promise that once you’ve braved the inevitable queue the first time, you’ll be back again and again.



Bean There, Done That: Edinburgh's Coffee Shops- Caragh Aylett

We know that finding plays to see at the Fringe is pretty hard, but what’s harder is finding the perfect coffee shop; who does the best flat white? Where can I gaze longingly out of the window? And where can I make sure that the Wifi always connects? Don’t worry, we’ve sorted it out for you, here’s our #PickOfTheFringe for coffee, because that’s more important.


1. Black Medicine

First things first, Black Medicine is pretty much everyone’s favourite. With its dream location in the centre of town, on Infirmary Street, and its beautiful take out cups, Black Medicine is the Instagramers dream. There’s a huge room downstairs where you can set up camp, connect to the wifi and while away the day alongside other festival goers. They also do amazing peanut butter brownies, I’d definitely recommend.

2. Brew  Lab

With its especially-for-the-Fringe pop up shop, Brew Lab is perfectly situated on the picturesque Victoria Street. The flagship site is nestled on South College Street, near local rivals Black Medicine. It has an extensive amount of cake on offer and the pop-up branch has a great rustic feel. blackboard csub . It’s also the place where we accidentally left our Ed Fringe Review whiteboard for several days, so they’re pretty good at lost and found.



Brew Lab, tucked away on South College Street (Image: STV Photos)

3. Elephants and Bagels

Not strictly a coffee shop but pretty good. Just off Nicholson Square, Elephants and Bagels is the perfect location for most Fringe venues, pop in after a show and refuel. They have a huge selection of pretty amazing bagels and the drawings of elephants on the wall are really cute, if you stay long enough you can even draw one yourself. My personal favourite was a drawing of ‘Donald Trunk’.


4. Hula

Good food and good coffee, what’s not to love? Hula holds a special place in my heart for two reasons. Firstly, it was the place I went to recover after seeing the worst play I’ve ever seen at the beginning of the Fringe last summer. Secondly, its lentil curry saved me from the most horrendous hangover at the end of last year’s Fringe. The coffee is pretty great and they do some incredible vegetarian food and if that isn’t enough for you, it’s right on the corner of Grassmarket so the perfect place to people watch during the festival.




5. Century General Store

Probably my favourite coffee shop of them all, Century General do great coffee and they even sell locally grown strawberries. Being on the Marchmont side of the meadows, it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds and there’s outdoor seating for when the Edinburgh rain lets up. They also have another, bigger branch on Montrose Terrace on the other side of the city.


So there you have it- our round up of the best places to grab your midday caffeine fix.