One of the smallest coffee shops in Edinburgh, Little Collingwood, has opened at Haymarket

They’re serving from a tiny hatch as part of hairdresser, Stag

Published 1st Jul 2021
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Edinburgh has no shortage of tiny coffee shops.

However, Cathryn Cripps Clark, who has worked in various converted police-boxes and carts in the capital, has recently taken over one of the most diminutive ones - the Stag Espresso hatch at Haymarket.

She’s already the owner of the relatively massive three-year-old takeaway, Little Fitzroy, on Easter Road.

Her newest pocket rocket is called Little Collingwood, as Collingwood is the bohemian suburb next to Fitzroy in Melbourne, where Cathryn grew up.

From an apple green premises, this little space will be serving Waverley Station commuters, but also those who’ve just had their hair cut, since they’re part of hairdressers Stag, who are almost unique in the capital, in that they charge customers based on hair length, rather than gender.

Little Collingwood

The barber’s new resident will be offering coffee, a few cakes (including, hopefully, their cinnamon buns), and locally-produced sodas, including those by Rapscallion. They will also be continuing their circular economy system, so you can get your reusable coffee canister filled with beans from the local roasters they use (and get a 25 per cent discount).

It’s amazing that they can fit all that inside a bijoux slot. However, Cripps Clark is quick to clarify that this takeaway cafe isn’t exactly the tiniest in the capital (though it may have the smallest hatch, at roughly the size of an A4 piece of paper).

“I don't know if it would qualify as the smallest. If you look at projects like Clava Coffee outside The Usher Hall, The Watershed coffee boat, The Drip boxes in Morningside and Tollcross and even coffee carts like the Bearded Barista, they are smaller,” she says. “I think it's really cool what people can do in smaller spaces and I’ve always been interested in coffee hatches and how they run as checkpoints in their communities”.

And, of course, Stag Espresso was serving out of this tiny aperture, way before lockdown made hatches essential and ubiquitous.

When they decided to move on, they advertised the space in a very egalitarian manner - “you can turn it into a pop-up bar, a take-away food hatch, a kissing booth (when kissing returns) or Edinburgh’s tiniest disco party, go right ahead”, and offered nine months free rent as an incentive.

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Luckily for those who’re not into kissing or disco-dancing, Little Fitzroy’s owner picked up the gauntlet, though this will probably be her final outpost.

Little Fitzroy

“Coffee and a damn good haircut is an amazing combination”, she says. “In terms of why we applied to Stag to run the space - I think it has less to do with it being a hairdresser. but more to do with how much I admire how Murray runs Stag, and how his partner, Bridget, has been running Stag Espresso and the shop's social media. From giving free haircuts to NHS and key workers, to raising money for SIMBA after one of the barbers experienced stillbirth and the trauma that accompanies it. Then there’s their work to support their staff to have a sustainable four day working week. They’re a constant inspiration”.

10 Haymarket Terrace,,  Instagram @littlecollingwood

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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