After five hours traipsing around Princes Street’s overflowing shops in search of the perfect Christmas gift, you might find your sanity hanging by a thread.
Thankfully there is an increasing number of quality cafés in the Scottish capital that offer a peaceful respite from the last-minute mayhem. Just as importantly they offer a higher standard of caffeine-based beverage than your typical over-priced coffee chain.
If you’re after high quality coffee you can’t go wrong with the small but perfectly formed Artisan Roast, which was recently named Best Cafe in the UK by review site Qype and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards.
Artisan recently opened an almost identical second café on Bruntsfield Place in addition to their original home at Broughton Street. They roast and distribute their own coffee throughout the city and beyond, but no-one brews it quite as well as they do, and their chilli hot chocolate is the perfect winter warmer.
A stairway off Nicolson Street leads to this spacious café that serves food and wine as well as coffee, tea and cake. Being above street level means that while you can watch the world go by if you’re lucky enough to get a window seat, you will feel nicely insulated from the hustle and bustle. Which is perhaps why JK Rowling spent many a day writing here back when it was called Nicolson’s.
Eteaket Tea Room
Because not everyone is a coffee drinker… Eteaket prides itself on “ethically sourcing exceptional loose leaf teas” and its Edinburgh Tea Room on Frederick Street has received rave reviews.
The tea room is distinctively decorated in an attractive vintage style and they serve sandwiches and Afternoon Tea, making it a popular pit-stop for ladies who lunch. Whilst it can get busy as a result, the simple ritual of pouring yourself a cup of freshly brewed tea is enough to calm even the most frayed of nerves.
Fruitmarket Café and Gallery
Art and culture tend to lose out to commercialism during the Christmas rush, which means it’s the perfect time to take advantage of this hidden gem on Market Street. The Fruitmarket Café and Gallery is located just behind Waverley Station, so may be overlooked by rushed shoppers, making it a great place to escape the chaos. With a refined atmosphere and good food, the presence of the Gallery and bookshop means you can refresh your mind as well as your palate.
Another great destination for a quality coffee in Edinburgh, the recently refurbished Wellington Coffee is situated on the corner of Hanover Street and George Street. Its central location and relatively small size means it can tend to be busy, but if you’re on a mission to get as many stocking fillers you can in as short a time as possible this might be the safest bet for a quick pick me up.
Do you have a favourite Edinburgh coffee shop? Tell us…
By Milo McLaughlin