Ah Edinburgh… The so-called Athens of The North.
Built on an astonishing hilly landscape with breath-taking panoramic views, Scotland’s beloved capital is home to a plethora of stunning medieval marvels and neoclassical architecture, making it undeniably one of the UK’s most beautiful cities.
…and so surely the perfect location for a spot of coffee!?
Auld Reekie (it’s decidedly less idyllic nickname) is thankfully full of swanky espresso hotspots to explore from mesmeric old stone cafes to secret underground rooms for the serious caffeine craver.
So to help you find the best coffee in Edinburgh, we’ve put together this ultimate list of our favourite haunts which will live long in the memory and even longer on your taste buds!
Best Coffee Shops in Edinburgh
77 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 4NF
Found on Queen Street, Fortuna Coffee is the city’s current biggest hit when it comes to coffee, providing an elegant appearance out front with a cute and cosy feel inside.
A favourite work spot for creative types, Fortuna sources all their products from Edinburgh’s finest artisans, providing coffee from Machina, a high-quality local roastery.
A fun and friendly atmosphere for those new to town, Fortuna is also a responsible café who focuses on providing sustainable practices to reduce waste within the store, making it the perfect choice for the more eco-conscious
Black Medicine Co.
2 Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DH
Named after the Native American’s medicinal use of java, Black Medicine Co. is one of the most fun and vibrant hang-outs in the city, boasting lots of space and a range of interesting seating areas.
Staying true to the theme, there’s plenty of quirky wooden carvings and Native American décor inside and there’s a more relaxed vibe in here that’s perfect for meet-ups and brunches with large groups of friends.
As well as their signature coffees, locals also go wild for their cold brew recipe, home-made lemonade and an always mouth-watering selection of cakes, soups and sarnies.
If you need some old fashioned coffee-based apothecary, Black Medicine Co. is your guy!
7 Cockburn St EH1 1BP
If you’re all about those Instagram opportunities, The Milkman is a much-favoured photo spot and a student favourite thanks to it’s stunningly restored stone shop aesthetic both inside and out.
Situated in Old Town’s Cockburn Street, one of the many spiralling, sloping avenues found in the area, this beautifully antiquated little store is like stepping into the past and was previously a sweet shop, still proudly displaying its old confectionary paintwork above the door.
But far from just an iPhone addict hang-out, The Milkman is also a worthy java spot, regularly changing its guest coffee blends for new and exciting flavours, and almost always opting for high-quality European roasts you won’t find anywhere else!
57 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH13RJ
Offering an effortless aesthetic and a relaxing chill-out spot, Artisan Roast makes anyone feel welcome and it’s casual vibes and tasty java make it very much the king of Edinburgh’s thriving coffee culture.
The popularity of its signature Janzsoon blend, as well as other funky choices, have seen its popularity soar in the Caledonian capital, so much so that it’s beginning to border on a national chain, with three Edinburgh shops and now a further café in Glasgow to boot.
Our favourite haunt though is still Artisan’s Broughton Street shop, as it was the first coffee roastery and specialist coffee store in all of Scotland, making it essentially the start of Edinburgh’s ever-blossoming coffee story.
It’s also home to one of our favourite pieces of décor, a mocking sign declaring “J.K Rowling never wrote here”, in a less than subtle dig at the dozen or so coffee shops in Edinburgh that claim to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, due to Rowling’s penchant for writing in cafes while living there.
Rowling herself completed Artisan’s piece by cheekily signing it during a visit there, adding “And I never will – J.K Rowling”.
Thomas J Walls
35 Forrest Road, Edinburgh EH1 2QNN
One of the trendiest coffee bars in the city, Thomas J Walls is certainly no eyesore, with a stunning brass and marble exterior that manages to be at once incredibly enticing and yet also strangely aloof.
Previously one of the Old Town’s premium optometrists, the coffee shop elected to stay true to the building’s origins during its refurbishment, and so from the outside, it’s signs and décor still advertise itself as an upmarket optician while the inside features typically high ceilings and old-fashioned wood-panelled walls.
The only hint it’s perhaps something else is the clever logo which blends spectacles with coffee cups and of course, a brief peek in the window, where you’ll often find clientele enjoying a cappuccino rather than fiddling with contact lenses.
Of course, this unique look only adds to the fun of discovering this seriously classy coffee house and inside you’ll be rewarded with their elegant Red Brick seasonal espresso bean as well as a range of exciting guest blends.
And if you’re feeling a little peckish, we’re sure you’ll agree the grub is one heck of a vision.
Looks like you’ll be booking yourself an appointment with the eye doctor very soon.
Best Coffee in Edinburgh
If you’re a native of Old Smokey or have just already frequented your fair share of its establishments on previous tourist trips, you may not really be looking for eye-pleasing escapes.
Instead, you’re more likely just looking for the best brew Caledonia has to offer.
Although the choices below also boast quirky atmospheres or cosy comforts, they tend to be more focused on one thing and one thing only – ensuring their blends and roasts are truly the best Edinburgh has to offer.
For the coffee connoisseur, these are the city’s true java experts.
6-8 South College St EH8 9AA
The name Brew Lab alone evokes images of an experimental coffee house, run by an eccentric but genius barista on the hunt to achieve world coffee domination with his signature blend.
Although there are no evil geniuses in sight, these guys do take coffee mega seriously and the tweaking and precision that goes into their brew methods are worthy of the laboratory name.
The coffees they serve change week to week, so are ever seasonal and offer a rich and new experience every time.
Brewing methods include espressos, triple-filtered cold brews, Kalita wave pour overs and even a strange 1830s vacuum method known as Siphon (…very mad scientist).
It’s fair to say then that a trip to this coffee shop is ideal for pleasure-seekers looking to take their drinking habits to the next level… the caffeine equivalent of chasing the dragon.
40 George St EH2 2LE Edinburgh
A truly hidden hotspot for caffeine cravers in the know, Lowdown Coffee is one of the best-kept secrets in George Street, a pretty thoroughfare famed as one of New Town’s high-end shopping districts.
Located in the basement of just one of many of the street’s stunningly crafted Georgian buildings, Lowdown becomes somewhat lost beneath all the hubbub, but given their minimalist décor and outlook – we imagine that’s just the way they like it.
Using only seasonal and expressive beans, Lowdown is one of the few places in the city to get truly unique coffee as the barista’s pride themselves on matching beans to specialist brewing methods such as Clover Machines and Torch Mountain Drippers to unlock unfathomable flavours you never thought possible!
Small and secluded inside, it’s a little coffee club for those who seriously know their stuff when it comes to the world’s most beloved drink.
7-8 Barclay Terrace EH10 4HP
A quaint and pretty location, Castello Coffee’s main window offers the perfect view of the neighbouring Bruntsfield Link’s picturesque fields, showcasing some of the more peaceful greenery that can be found within Edinburgh’s rolling hills.
With an attention-grabbing baby blue outside décor, Castello’s is also stylish and cosy inside, with a two-shop structure that combines a quirky low ceilinged mezzanine with a more spacious high-ceilinged narrow seating area.
And of course, the coffee… is exquisite.
A Redchurch blend of Brazilian, Guatemalan, Sumatran and Colombian beans provides a South American masterclass that brings punchy cocoa and caramel flavours with a hint of citrus, a flavour phenomenon worth meandering outside the city centre for.
3c York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB
Found nesting beside the National Portrait Gallery and fringe favourite The Stand Comedy Club, Fortitude Coffee is a Scottish powerhouse all of its own, providing great coffee as well as friendly expertise and advice for the budding barista.
With a welcoming and light decor, it’s certainly a pleasant place to be after a long hard day of sightseeing and is one of the best-located coffee shops where you can still find quality on the menu.
Usually utilising the always tasty Workshop Coffee blend, they also host regular guests and specialise in lovingly prepared espressos and filter-based coffees.
For the homebrew tinkerer, there’s also plenty of goods to get your hands on, from bags of beans to Aeropress gadgets and premium v60’s.
2 Brougham Pl, W Tollcross, Edinburgh EH3 9HW
A total triple threat in the world of coffee, Machina Espresso offers it’s lucky consumers the whole shebang: Something to drink, beans to buy and a range of premium coffee equipment for wannabe baristas in training.
Providing their own single-origin bean roast, you can choose from a variety of brewing methods with their baristas also offering great advice on how to get the best coffee for you.
Undoubtedly one of the city’s superior coffee specialists, you’ll learn more here in a minute than you would in a year at Starbucks.