1 - Bon Tea Room
2 - Lowdown Coffee
3 - Fortitude Coffee
4 - Bluebird Cafe
5 - Casa Amiga Leith
6 - Sugarhouse Sandwiches
7 - Cuckoo's Bakery
8 - The Milkman
9 - Graze on Grassmarket
10 - La Barantine
11 - Cafe Class
While those looking for venues with exquisite tasting menus, extensive cocktail lists or delicate filter coffee options will generally spend some time doing research, I think it’s important not to discount the power of Trip Advisor. For many it will offer first impressions to a city and for a large portion of travellers may be as far as they look.
So this list is not to shit on entire venues that obviously do something right to constantly maintain such high reviews, each are great in their own individual way. This list is simply rating the coffee and tea alone, as Trip Advisor seems to take in a load of outside factors into their complicated algorithm.
Numbers 8, 9, 10, 11 keep rotating so all are included.
According to Google, the most popular related search is ‘coffee Edinburgh’ by a fairly large margin. If it was ‘breakfast Edinburgh’ or ‘cafes Edinburgh’ this list would be highly irrelevant but it is pretty safe to assume most people searching are specifically looking for the best morning coffee rather than best cafe allrounders.
As a black coffee drinker and experienced barista, I’ve decided to go into every venue and order a simple flat white (something I never drink) to provide an even and honest playing field.
I think my opinions on Lowdown and Fortitude are pretty apparent. On straight coffee and tea alone - It’s hard to find something better than Lowdown. Their tea menu is something you need to see, with a selection of delicate Japanese numbers that you wont find anywhere else.
Fortitude will always present you with a great cup of coffee in an incredibly intimate atmosphere. While their menu isn’t quite as extensive as Lowdown’s I refuse to rate them any lower as everything is always at incredible standards. There isn’t a fault in their overall product and therefore they deserve to sit atop the list with Lowdown.
I was pleasantly surprised by Cuckoo’s, somewhere I’d never been before. Nice latte art, perfect temperature and a remarkably smashable flat white - something you’d expect when serving local Edinburgh roaster’s Obediah. Not quite up there with Fortitude and Lowdown on coffee/tea alone but neither are they trying to be, they do a bit of everything.
With their imaginative cake and breakfast selection - I can understand why this ranks so highly on the list. Great neighbourhood cafe - extra points for the cuckoo clock! Great find.
Artisan Roast’s Janzoon blend pops up three times on this list, a blend of 70% Indonesian and 30% Brazilian beans. Cafe Class gave the best representation of this easy to drink espresso blend. Was it the most exciting coffee? No, but it was incredibly easy to drink and did not last long. Perfect temperature, nice atmosphere and minty water! It’s in the small details, good wee breakfast spot in Tollcross.
I’ve always had the opinion that The Milkman has the potential to be the best cafe in all of Edinburgh. It has the location, amazing decor, 17th century walls and enough gadgetry to get them over the line. There’s just something holding them back. Whether that is management or the owners (or both?), who knows. The flat white was nice but not outstanding, a little under-extracted and sour though. If it’s a sunny day, definitely recommend sitting out the front on Cockburn Street like I did. Decent but not amazing.
This place was super cool to sit in with its bakery just at the back of the cafe. Using an espresso roast from Union down in London, the flat white was adequate. Nothing spectacular but also nothing unpleasant, it was just a decent cup of coffee! Rounded, toffee and dark chocolate flavours - just your typical rounded white coffee people pleaser blend. Focus seems more towards being a french patisserie and they own what they do - I like that.
I’m conflicted on this one. I really liked my time at Bluebird, it has an atmosphere none of these other cafes have and the lady working was absolutely lovely with a great love for music. The food is really good and it’s probably well loved by the locals living nearby. Problem is, based on coffee/tea alone - it is lacking. Artisan Roast’s Janzoon pops up again but when the staff aren’t trained, you can’t exactly expect much more. Deserves to be #3 on Trip Advisors ‘Cafes’ list, I love the spot.
Though for a fair portion of people sugar is a must in their coffee, it always makes me nervous when coffee is served with two sugar sachets on the saucer. Especially when the cup, sugar and coffee all have the same brand name! Typically a sign of mass produced coffee companies signing you up for all inclusive deals. Props to Casa Amiga (a Portuguese cafe) for using Portuguese coffee, it’s just a damn shame it is pretty awful. Hot, sandy and super bitter - it definitely needed the sugar provided to make it drinkable. Go for the pastries, they’re amazing!
I think it says it in the name, it isn’t a coffee shop. Great sandwiches, amazing location but coffee? It was pretty damn awful. The prices are extortionate for the quality they are serving - the cup wasn’t even full! Surprised Artisan Roast lets them get away with this quality, surely it hurts their reputation.
Not much competition in the area that is typically a tourist hotspot, but it sets a bad precedent for those visiting the city as there is much better on offer incredibly close by - Buba Budan & The Milkman.
I’m refusing to name ninth place in this list as I’d prefer to name the two cafes that came equal last. One I cannot rate any higher because I did not have a coffee there, the other I wish I never did.
I’m just going to be completely honest with you, I didn’t have a coffee at Graze. For two reasons, they’re not a cafe and from what I could see didn’t even have ceramic cups to put a coffee into. They do though have an amazing selection of foods which I would highly recommend at prices unseen on the Grassmarket! I frequent now whenever I’m on that side of town.
Go to Graze for lunch then walk for a minute down the road to Mary’s Milk Bar for some ice cream enjoying the castle views.
The number one place for coffee and tea in all of Edinburgh! Wow, just wow. This place was incredible. It was like being teleported back to the 80s and the coffee tasted like it was roasted then too. I think it was actually the worst coffee I’ve had in years - after two sips, I left.
I understand this place is known for their cakes, baby showers and afternoon teas and I understand why it appeals to some people. But based on coffee and tea alone, this place should not be anywhere in the top 100.
Please do not take the 32 minute bus ride to Corstorphine, you will be disappointed.