We at Little Fish Tours find it hard to imagine starting one of our walking tours before our morning double espresso. So much so that the coffee shops we visit often feel like an extension of our office given how much time we end up spending in them both pre and post tour. So we thought we would compile a top 5 best cafes in Edinburgh you may like to visit either before or after you have joined us on one of our walking tours. So in no particular order, here we go!
Black Medicine Coffee
Black Medicine have been in the heart of Edinburgh since before the year 2000. They take their name because the native tribes of the Americas would often refer to their coffee drink as Black Medicine. The Native American theme continues on the inside. How many coffee shops have you been to that have their own wood carved totem pole on the inside? As you may expect from a coffee shop that is strongly inspired by the people of Native America, Black Medicine has a strong ethical business policy always looking at new and innovative ways to cut down on both their own and customers waste. As well as all the regular coffees on offer that you would expect in a well-established coffee shop, Black Medicine also do their own Cold Brew Coffee and home-made lemonade and ice tea. During the long winter months in Edinburgh, after finishing a walking tour I like to warm up with a hot honey, lemon and ginger drink that they will make from fresh for you. To go along with your coffee Black Medicine also have a fine selection of great freshly baked cakes, home made soups and a wide selection of both hot and cold sandwiches, one of my personal favourites being the Sweet Potato Pakora toasted Panini. Black Medicine is just a short walk from the National Museum of Scotland and you can find out more about them HERE!
If you are serious about coffee then there is one coffee shop you have to visit in Edinburgh and that’s Brew Lab. They are as passionate about coffee in their cafe/training lab as we are about whisky on our whisky tour. If you want a barrister who can tell you about the different flavours, aromas and mouth feel of various coffees whilst having your filter coffee being made to order then there are few better coffee shops anywhere in the world than here. At Brew Lab you don’t just get to drink the coffee, you also have the chance to make the coffee. Brew Lab offer a variety of training courses in their specially designed and fitted training lab. They cater training courses for complete coffee novices through to at home coffee enthusiasts all the way up to professional barristers who are looking at upping their coffee game. Brew Lab source all their coffee from Union who are ethical hand roasted coffee producers founded by two ex scientists who fell in love with coffee and coffee production. Brew Lab is located close to the historic quadrangle of Edinburgh University. You can learn all about Brew Lab HERE!
Completing the mini triangle of coffee heaven coffee stops we have Spoon. Spoon flirt with the line of classification falling somewhere between a restaurant/cafe/bar/friends-living-room. There has been a Spoon in Edinburgh for many years now first opening on Blackfriars Street after the owners honed their cafe running skills operating the cafe at the Scottish Story Telling Centre. They then opened Spoon on Nicolson Street back in 2009. Before Spoon opened up it was an Indian buffet restaurant but way back in 1997 the Nicolson’s Cafe operated here. Probably the most famous patron of the Nicolson’s Cafe was the as of yet undiscovered J.K. Rowling. Spoon has arguably the strongest claim to being the “birthplace of Harry Potter” over some of the other cafes in Edinburgh. You won’t find any broomsticks on the walls here though. What you will find is a nice relaxed atmosphere where you can sit and enjoy quality coffee along with good food whilst you sit and read or maybe do a little writing yourself. You can find out more about Spoon HERE!
Zebra Cafe Co
Zebra Cafe Co is located right round the corner from where our walking tours begin making it the perfect pre-tour coffee spot. It is a nice relaxed cafe, small yet beautifully formed with stools and high tables in the front, sofas in the rear and even a small coffee garden out back where on a sunny day you can sit and enjoy your coffee whilst watching the procession of walking tours come past to point out the beautiful Writers Museum found in Makers’ Court. Zebra Cafe Co offer big rustic sandwiches and soup as well as salads and nachos or even a full cooked Scottish Breakfast, however our favourite is probably their buttermilk pancakes that pair perfectly with their artisan roast coffees. You can find out more about the Zebra Cafe Co HERE!
La Barantine Victoria
Last, but by no means least we have La Barantine on Victoria Street. As you may learn on one of our walking tours the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France means we have long had great relations between the two nations and owners, Céline and Vincent, continue to strengthen that relationship with their cafes. Céline and Vincent used to run their own boulangerie-pâtisserie in the North of France but in 2010 they packed up to persue their Scottish dream and moved here to sunny Edinburgh. Ever since they have been continuously delivering top quality French cafe culture across not one but now four cafes throughout the city. La Barantine offer a simple but tasty breakfast menu, but it is their cakes and in particular macarons that they have become famous for. You can even join one of their popular macaron making classes during your stay here in Edinburgh. Also located on Victoria Street you can continue the French experience and visit I.J. Mellis cheesemonger and wine merchant for a fine selection of local and international cheeses. You can find more about La Barantine HERE!