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Student Reflections

The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Shops in Edinburgh

Ellie Witham
November 24, 2021
Barista making coffee at a dimly lit coffee shop

I won’t lie, it feels slightly wrong to be making a guide to coffee in Britain. Not that people don’t drink coffee here (they do!), it’s just that drinking tea is such a huge part of the culture. People make fun of the Brits and their tea, but they really do love it. I make a lot of tea in my flat, but if I’m out, I will always get a coffee. Here’s a list of some of the places I’ve been here in Edinburgh. 


Cheapshot Coffee

You might not consider this to be an actual coffee shop, but it deserves a place in this list. Cheapshot Coffee is a small stand right off Nicholson Square. Their coffee, whether you want a latte or americano, is only 2 pounds. Quite the steal- especially being so close to campus. If you’re on the run to a class, be sure to stop by for your quick, cheap, caffeine fix. 


Black Medicine Coffee Co. 

Black Medicine Coffee Company is the go-to spot for students. It’s conveniently located right across the street from the Law School. There is no doubt you will find law students grinding away on their papers here. They have two floors of seating, so if you can’t find a spot on the ground floor, you can head to the basement for additional seats. I’ve tried their pumpkin spice latte, which was perfect for the fall!



Tucked away in Sciennes, August_21 is everything you want from a coffee shop. The ambience is perfect for studying, whether you pick a table or opt for one of their eccentric chairs or couches. Despite the shop being a bit past campus, there are constantly students and locals coming in for a drink or bite to eat. Another plus- every 7 coffees you get one free! My advice: try the oat milk latte!



Baristo is one of the coffee shops located on campus. It’s in Potterrow, right in Bristo Square. If the coffee shop doesn’t have any seats, don’t worry. You can just head right into Potterrow, the student center on campus. Each of the tables in Potterrow are labelled with a special QR code that the cafe is informed about. You can find a study spot there and if you decide to order coffee, it will be brought right to you! 


New Amphion Cafe

The New Amphion Cafe is similar to Baristo. It’s another one of the on-campus cafes. New Amphion is located with Teviot, which is a student building with more food and drink, including the famous Library Bar, a sports bar, and beer garden! They all serve food and drink, but New Amphion is the only spot open earlier in the morning. Be on the lookout for some great deals with your student card, whether that be a discount on a coffee and a pastry, or lunch deals like half off nachos!


Kilimanjaro Coffee

Kilimanjaro Coffee is located on Nicholson Street, close to the University of Edinburgh. I swear it is always busy. Kilimanjaro has a wide selection of seats inside, if you want to study or catch up with a friend. You can also sit at one of the tables outside and watch the world go by. One of the best things about Kilimanjaro is that it is open until eight every night, so if you need a caffeine fix in the latter half of the day, don’t worry, just head here!


Peace, Love, and Coffee

Peace, Love, and Coffee was my most recent coffee. I went with my flatmate. The shop is located a convenient five minute walk from my flat. The coffee was great, chairs comfortable for long periods of studying, music tasteful, and the art decorating the place was made by young children, which was so fun to look at. It reminded me of when you’re younger and you come home with an art piece that is specifically placed on display on the fridge. 


Cult Coffee

Cult Coffee is close to the Meadows, a wonderful park situated right next to campus. At Cult, you can sit in or order takeaway. I went with sit-in, which was a bit fancy. The barista came over and took our order which made it feel more like a restaurant. Apparently they do serve food- I was tempted to try their cauliflower soup. It felt a bit weird to be studying in a coffee shop that was more like a restaurant, but their coffee and service was great. 


Brew Lab

I think Brew Lab was where I got my first coffee here in Edinburgh. The cafe is tucked away behind the National Museum of Scotland and the Old College campus. I absolutely love the inside of the place. It has a more rustic feel, with the rough exposed brick walls. You’ll be sure to get a great cup of coffee from Brew Lab. They have their special single-brew coffee. If you visit, don’t hesitate to get a croissant, it was quite tasty!


Edinburgh, similar to Boston, is full of coffee shops. There are still so many I have not gone to! I highly recommend trying as many independent coffee shops as possible. There is such a selection that you really don’t need to go to any big chains. The only time I’ve been to a chain since I’ve been here is when I am in the airport. Trust me- if you’re a coffee lover and find yourself in Edinburgh, you’ll be sure to find a great cup of coffee at any of these locations.