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5 of the best independent coffee shops in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is home to many excellent independent coffee shops, so here are some of our top picks.

Published: August 2, 2023
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Edinburgh is a busy city, bustling with crowds and people hurrying from one place to another.

Coffee shops help fuel these mad rushes, from big name chain venues to smaller local establishments.

Here are 5 of Edinburgh's best independent coffee shops worth trying.

Fortitude Coffee

(3C York Place, EH1 3EB)

Fortitude Coffee, York Place, Edinburgh. Image: Fortitude Coffee/Facebook

Although this shop is small, the coffee here is mighty. Every single coffee is ground fresh to order, and brewed using only filtered water.

There are only a few seats available, but that means that each coffee is given the time and dedication it deserves.

You can interact with the knowledgeable baristas and treat yourself to something sweet from a selection of cakes and morning buns all freshly made in Fortitude’s bakery.

And if you can’t get a seat in the York Street coffee shop, don’t worry. It may be the original branch but there are two other locations, in Stockbridge and on Newington Road, you can visit.

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Castello Coffee Co.

((7-8 Barclay Terrace, Bruntsfield, EH10 4HP)

Inside Independent coffee shop Castello Coffee, with its lovely mid modern design.

Castello Coffee, Bruntsfield. Image: Castello Coffee/Facebook

Castello Coffee is tucked away on Barclay Terrace, not too far from the Meadows making it great afternoon coffee stop.

As for the brew, it serves Allpress Espresso.

But if you’re after something more substantial than a caffeine fix, Castello is also a great brunch spot with a variety of options both sweet and savoury.

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And if you’re not stuffed after that you can try one of their amazing bakes.

Thomas J. Walls

(Forrest Road, EH1 2QN)

The former optician facade of indie coffee shop Thomas J Walls.

Thomas J Walls, Forrest Street, Edinburgh. Image: Lisa Ferguson

This former optician has kept its old-fashioned charm, but also has a modern sensibility which appeals to younger residents in the area.

Another coffee shop which is located conveniently near the National Museum of Scotland and along the Meadows, its former use is reflected in the antique gold lettering and clever logo which combines a pair of glasses and a cup of coffee.

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There are also elegant dark wood panels, which are complemented by daring modern light fittings and marble-topped tables.

As well as Red Brick seasonal espresso, Walls serves some tasty brunch options well worth a visit in their own right.

Cult Espresso

(104 Buccleuch Street, EH8 9NG)

Outside of Cult Coffee Roasters, Newington.

Cult Coffee Roasters, Newington. Image: Cult Coffee Roasters/Instagram

From the outside, Cult Espresso seems tiny.

However, when you step inside, you can see that it is actually rather spacious, with plenty of cosy corners to hide in.

It is just a couple of minutes from the Meadows, so after some time frolicking in the sun, what is better than a revitalising cup of coffee at Cult?

As well as the fantastic brews, there are also some tasty food options with weekend specials on offer.
Cult’s range of special coffee is served with seasonality in mind, so expect delicious drinks and staff with expert knowledge.

Cairngorm Coffee

(41A Frederick St, EH2 1EP)

Cairngorm Coffee on Frederick Street. Image: Cairngorm Coffee/Instagram

This basement coffee shop is tucked on Frederick Street – Cairngorm Coffee’s original location.

With the recognisable Cairngorm Coffee bike which hangs from the barrier by the stairs down to the shop, there’s nothing dim about its bright yellow facade.

It’s almost as sunny inside – but that could just be down to having a sip of sweet brew.

Every shot of coffee at Cairngorm is frozen to ensure freshness – that combined with the variety of beans on offer make for a really special drink.

Plus with two other venues in the St James Quarter Bonnie & Wild market and on Meville Place in the West End, there’s plenty of places to try this staple independent coffee shop.

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