Searching for the BEST Edinburgh coffee shops? Look no further! I explored the city to find the best of best, ensuring that each spot had top quality coffee, friendly service, and a good atmosphere.
Edinburgh easily makes my list of the best cities to visit in Europe. This historic capital has stayed in my TOP ten favorite destinations in the world for many years. It’s a dream come true for Harry Potter fans. J.K. Rowling wrote the majority of the books while living here and found much of her inspiration from sights, stories, and past residents of Edinburgh.
History buffs will appreciate Edinburgh’s bloody past and ghost hunters will be itching to visit the underground vaults, which are not only terrifying but absolutely haunted. I would know, I had my first ghost experience while touring the vaults.
If all the above doesn’t pique your interest, the cobblestoned streets, quaint cafes, university vibe, picturesque streets, and friendly pubs are sure to win your heart. I could wander the streets of Edinburgh for days on end. If there’s a city to get lost in and appreciate the architecture and views, Edinburgh is it.
If you’re visiting the United Kingdom, it would be a wise decision to include Edinburgh on your itinerary. There’s a reason I included it on my 10 day UK itinerary combining London, Edinburgh, and York.
Whether you're spending one day in Edinburgh or a week, I’m positive you will at some point need a coffee break. Try one or all five of the BEST Edinburgh coffee shops and cafes! These spots are perfect for a quick caffeine fix to get ready for a busy day of sightseeing or a leisurely break to read a book and enjoy the cozy atmosphere.
1. The Milkman
One of the best Edinburgh coffee shops in the heart of Old Town
The Milkman is conveniently situated just outside of Waverly train station, the main station in Edinburgh. This makes for the perfect coffee shop stop before you head out of the city for an exciting day trip or when traveling to your next destination.
Considering that Waverly train station is in the heart of Edinburgh, this also means that The Milkman is a great option for a quick stop while seeing the main sights. There’s a good chance you’ll pass right by it on your way to Edinburgh Castle as it’s only a 6-minute walk away.
The Milkman is quaint, cozy, and perfectly Instagrammable. I was lucky enough to grab a window seat and watch tourists hurrying by while the weather was gloomy and gray. I considered myself lucky to have that experience and found myself wishing I lived here so I could visit this little Edinburgh cafe more often. Arrive first thing in the morning for the best chance of snagging a seat, otherwise, plan on ordering to-go.
For being located in the heart of Old Town, I was surprised that not only was the coffee quality outstanding, one of the best flat whites during my entire trip, but the prices were also great. £2.70 for a flat white, £2.50 for an americano, and £2 to £3 for pastries. You won’t find subpar, overpriced coffee here!
Don’t skip ordering a pastry when visiting this Edinburgh coffee shop! I highly recommend getting whatever fresh baked sweet bread they have that day.
2. Union Brew Lab
One of the best Edinburgh coffee shops to study or work
If I lived in Edinburgh, Union Brew Lab would be my regular hangout whenever I needed to get some work done. This is easily one of the best coffee shops in Edinburgh if you need to study or work. There’s plenty of table and counter space and the steady stream of customers creates the perfect background noise. This seems to be a popular place for students, and you won’t get the evil eye from whipping out your laptop and staying a while.
Reliable WiFi, friendly service, and top-notch coffee make this a winner. Union Brew Lab serves single-origin specialty-grade coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Company. Two espressos and two filtered coffees are offered each day for those that like some variety.
If you’re looking for specialty coffee, solid bites, and a lively atmosphere, Union Brew Lab will hit the spot.
Union Brew Lab is equidistant, less than 10 minutes by foot, from the University of Edinburgh and the heart of Old Town, giving it an ideal location.
The best Edinburgh cafe for a slice of cake with your coffee or tea
I often find myself reminiscing of my visits to Lovecrumbs and enjoying their Insta worthy cakes. Yes, they’re that good! If you’re like me, the hardest decision you’ll make all day will be deciding which cake to try. They are all homemade, beautiful, and absolutely delicious. Many are vegan, though you would never know it by the taste.
Cakes aside, Lovecrumbs is a big thumbs up. There is plenty of space, it’s actually one of the bigger Edinburgh coffee shops on this list. The cafe is usually filled to capacity with students and locals. You’ll even find patrons sitting in the window nooks to have a place to sit.
It’s no surprise Lovecrumbs is so popular. Everything is done with care. The homemade cakes are a major standout, but they also do coffee and tea right and offer a selection of rotating baked goods like lemon raspberry cruffins, scones, and cookies. Not in the mood for something sweet? Go for a baguette sandwich or a mince pie.
Lovecrumbs is located by Grassmarket Square, which is sure to be on your sightseeing itinerary.
The best Edinburgh cafe in New Town
A wander around New Town is a must while in Edinburgh. It’s a stark contrast from Old Town. Narrow twisting streets are traded for wide, grid-like lanes. The architecture goes from Medieval to Georgian. New Town is the area to shop, enjoy the views from Calton Hill, admire artwork at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and soak in the sun at Queens Street Gardens.
Fortitude is my favorite spot for a coffee break in New Town. It’s small, like most cafes in Edinburgh, but is guaranteed to serve some of the best coffee in Edinburgh. The baristas are beyond friendly and the avocado toast is spot on…some say the best in the city.
This is the place to enjoy a simple brew to fully appreciate the outstanding quality of their beans. Fortitude roasts their beans each week to guarantee optimum taste and freshness. Try a pour over or an americano.
Fortitude is located right across the street for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and 12 minutes from Calton Hill.
5. Wellington Coffee
The best Edinburgh cafe for scones and baked goods
Wellington Coffee is located in the heart of New Town on George Street. This little Edinburgh cafe is known for serving the best scones in the city. They are baked fresh and big enough to share. Go sweet and try the fruit scone of the day or savory with the bacon and cheese scone.
Not only are the scones and other baked goods reason enough to visit, but the coffee is on point. They make a mean americano and a beautiful cappuccino. The loose-leaf tea is served in a personal teapot, which I always appreciate since you can get several cups out of one little pot.
Visit early if you’re going for the baked goods as they do sell out. The patio is perfect when the weather is nice. The inside has a homey feel with wood tones throughout and low ceilings…but can become cramped during the morning rush of customers.
Cairngorm Coffee: another great option in the heart of New Town. If Wellington is overly crowded, Cairngorm is a perfect alternative as it’s only 3 minutes down the street.
The Wall Coffee and Design House: located 2 minutes from The Milkman, this is a good option if you want a bit more space. The cakes here are also very good.
I hope this list of the best Edinburgh coffee shops and cafes keeps you caffeinated and ready to take on the sights. These are without a doubt my favorite coffee shops in Edinburgh. Each cafe on this list offers friendly service, quality coffee, and scrumptious snacks. Let me know which ended up being your favorite.
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