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The Best Independent Coffee Shops in Edinburgh’s Old Town

Locally loved and barista approved – here’s our list of the best independent coffee shops in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

This list is adapted from our ‘Coffee in the City: Southside’ Trax, created by Edinburgh local and experienced barista, Axel Goransson. You can check it out on Spotify, or on our free app

1. Baba Budan

Image by Johannes Sailer

“Baba Budan is the perfect marriage between old and new. This is evident in its elegant décor that is contemporary in design yet complementary to the original stonework.”

Axel Goransson

Nestled inside a 19th-century railway arch (conveniently named ‘The Arches’), Baba Budan is just a stone’s throw from Waverly Station’s back entrance. With a stunning view of Calton Hill, a constant rotation of coffee roasters on offer and a daily supply of freshly baked doughnuts (baked in-house, in the arch next door), this place is the literal embodiment of a hidden gem. 

2. The Milkman

“They say good things come in small packages – they must have been thinking of this cafe.” 

Axel Goransson

Originally the site of a traditional sweet shop, The Milkman is tucked away at the bottom of Cockburn Street, and just a couple minute’s walk from Waverly station. A wonderful blend of old and new, The Milkman is named after the owner’s great grandfather, whose silhouette is also displayed as the shop’s logo. You can expect to find friendly staff, a great selection of coffee and an abundance of locally sourced cakes and treats. 

3. Brew Lab

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“Brew Lab is arguably one of Edinburgh’s trailblazers when it comes to speciality coffee.”

Axel Goransson

Brew Lab has been supplying Edinburgh with quality coffee since 2012. Possessing some of the best coffee equipment known to man, Brew Lab serve their coffee three ways – expresso, batch brew and pour overs, and even offer coffee masterclasses! The interior itself is reminiscent of a cool coffee shop you might find in Berlin, consisting of distressed brick, old workshop benches and recycled school gym flooring.

4. Cheap Shot

“Don’t be fooled by the name – there ain’t no cop-outs or cut corners here.”

Axel Goransson

Converted police boxes selling all manners of food and drink are scattered throughout the city. One that’s not to be missed is CHEAPSHOT, a tiny independent coffee stand serving excellent coffee for just £2 a pop. Founded by Paddy Maher, a young entrepreneur who has devoted his life to coffee (pictured), CHEAPSHOT is run on the daily by university students and recent graduates who share his passion for caffeination.

5. Cult Espresso

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“Cult Espresso is all about friendship, great service and a welcoming, local setting.”

Axel Goransson

Deceptively small from the outside, Cult Espresso opens into a large and inviting space and is a great place to enjoy a cup of single-origin coffee with a spot of brunch. This is the Central Perk of Edinburgh, a beloved local spot to catch up with friends, and where the warm, friendly atmosphere is intoxicating.

And that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoy exploring this little slice of Edinburgh’s independent coffee scene.

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