Open every day Espresso Coffee: Luckie Beans Coffee Roasters Also: Baked items, cold drinks
Coolness: A rare opportunity to have quality coffee on your train ride
The Luckie Beans Coffee cart is a welcome sight as you make your way through the airy entry hall of Edinburgh's Haymarket Station toward the ticket barriers.
They offer tasty flat whites using their Love Lane house blend, with beans originating from India, Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil. Expert baristas bring out the sweetness, rounding out the gutsy brew that will keep traditional and adventurous speciality coffee lovers happy on their journey.
Roasting out of Berwick upon Tweed, Luckie Beans make regular appearances at markets around Southern Scotland, but their coffee cart is also a permanent fixture for Edinburgh's commuters and cross-country travellers.
Understandably, coffee is Luckie's main priority, but you can also pick up a muffin, danish or croissant to help soak up the caffeine as well as crisps, biscuits, chocolate bars and other train-worthy snacks and cold drinks.
It's often hard to get good quality coffee at railway stations, which are generally known for ghastly ubiquitous chain stores. It's great to see Luckie on the Haymarket station menu and the retro styling of their coffee cart is also super cute.
To top it off, you can choose from a selection of Luckie's beans, all bagged up and ready to go, for brewing at home or work.
Open every day Espresso, Batch brew Coffee: Quarter Horse and guests Also: Cakes, light meals
Coolness: A stone's throw from the Meadows
Detour Espresso is an open, light-filled coffee shop on the South side of Edinburgh's city centre.
Their house espresso is Dark Horse from Birmingham's independent roaster Quarter Horse. 50/50 Brazilian and Nicaraguan, this seasonally changing blend is far from dark. There's plenty of brightness to keep speciality coffee lovers happy.
You can also expect regularly changing guests - quite often from more local roasters - on espresso and batch brew.
Cakes, soups, sandwiches and other tasty snacks are on offer as well as a fridge full of tempting drinks including Clever Kombucha, Lemonaid and Charitea ranges.
The space is airy, the decor simple and the vibe chilled. A very nice spot to stop by or pick up a take-away (in your re-usable cup) before heading to the Meadows for a stroll.
Open every day Espresso Coffee: Johan & Nyström Also: Bakery items and meals
Coolness: Swedish-inspired breads and sweet buns
Soderberg Broughton Street (3♥) is a bakery cafe that occupies an attractively New Town-ish curved stone building on the corner with Forth Street.
A number of Soderbergs have cropped up in different parts of Edinburgh, all offering the same high quality goods and clean line decor.
They use Swedish roaster Johan & Nyström's coffee and do a good job with it. They've chosen a blend with a big bold flavour profile that will satisfy traditionalists but has enough complexity to keep third-wavers interested.
As well as a selection of gelato and a couple of changing soup options, you'll find buns, bread, pastries and sandwiches with a big focus on high quality ingredients. Their cardamom and cinnamon buns are a bit of a signature bake - dense, moist and flavoursome. The glass counter is topped with jars of different biscuits and they sell their crispbread and jams as well. (We're fans of the biscuit in this cake-obsessed world.)
While Soderberg is a wheat lovers haven, there are usually couple of gluten-free sweet baked options for those so inclined.
Open every day Espresso, batch brew, filter, nitro col Coffee: The Good Coffee Cartel Also: Meals, beans, cakes and more Dog-friendly
Coolness: Great veggie and vegan food with crafty arty guests
Mayze Coffee & Food (5♥) is located in Finnieston, just West of Glasgow's city centre.
Owners Gillian and Craig bring a significant amount of speciality coffee and cafe experience to this shop, having been in Glasgow's coffee scene for many years. They also run Something Brewed - their coffee and tea pop-up bar for special events.
Their coffee is provided by locals and long time pals The Good Coffee Cartel (previous work mates from Avenue) who favour bright seasonally changing speciality coffees.
Collaborators Faceplant help Mayze turn out a wide range of every-changing tasty vegetarian and vegan food. Brunch is a major attraction, offering big veggie fry ups, waffles and avocado toast. Lunch features burritos, toasties and a daily special main meal. And then there's the mouthwatering cakes, often vegan, gluten-free or both.
Mayze is a winner and will keep you coming back with their regularly changing menu of coffee, cakes and meals.
Open Mon-Sat before 3pm Espresso Coffee: Mr Eion bespoke blend Also: Cookies
Coolness: The chirpy Police Box and equally chirpy service
The Counter (4♥) is set back a little from Morningside Road in Edinburgh's leafy South West and serves take-away coffee and home-made small cakes.
Owners Sally and Ali are partners in life as well as business, bringing together experience in hospitality and cheffing.
They serve their own 'The Counter' blend from local roaster Mr Eion, the majority of which is Sumatran and Brazilian. Chosen with the preferences of their customers in mind, you can expect a nutty, choclatey brew that works well with milk.
Chef Ali does the baking including very popular brownies and salt caramel cookies. They offer bite-size portions because they know many of their customers are on the move and a quick bite is what they're after. The Counter also offer Edinburgh's Eteaket teas.
A very nice coffee from folk who are passionate about great coffee and customer service. They also serve their cracking coffee from Police boxes in Morningside, Tollcross, Usher Hall on Lothian Road and their 'The Counter on the canal' boat near Fountainbridge on the Union Canal.
Open every day Espresso, ice americano, ice latte Coffee: Squaremile Also: Meals, cakes, beans
Coolness: Stylish nostalgia meets all day brunches
Thomas J Walls Coffee (5♥) is a large, elegant coffee shop located on the South side of Edinburgh's busy Old Town, near the National Museum of Scotland.
Owner Jonathan Sharpe has a number of other shops in Edinburgh and offers consistently high quality espresso-based coffee from long-time supplier London's Squaremile. The house bean is generally their Red Brick seasonal espresso, a particular favourite of ours, and guest beans are often available.
The site used to be an optician's shop and many a local, and their parents (and probably their grandparents) has had their eyes tested and glasses fitted here. The transformation to coffee shop has been sympathetic to these origins, preserving the original frontage, complete with the brass company name lettering and display windows. Look out for the shop logo that also smartly blends spectacles and coffee cup.
Visitors will be rewarded not just with lovely coffee, but also good food. Brunches are a main staple, well-suited to the relaxed and spacious surrounds. Options include rosti with spinach, smoked salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise, shakshuka, yoghurt & granola and the ever-present avocado on toast among others. Freshly made juices, soups, sandwiches and cakes are also on the menu.
There are plenty of tables and chairs in the front part of the shop and more to the rear, along with some softer seating by way of arm chairs and a sofa. The decor is simple and stylish and when combined with some very nice paintings, high ceilings and old world touches, adds up to a classy feel. Big thumbs up from us.
Open every day Espresso Coffee: Rounton Coffee Also: Meals, cakes and beans
Coolness: New Town nooks and crannies meets great food
Leo's Beanery (4♥) is in the beautiful Georgian New Town and a lovely spot.
Out front you'll find some inviting tables and chairs before stepping into the deceptively large interior. Leo's has a friendly, elegant but cosy feel and are very customer-focused.
We've sampled Leo's coffee for years and they continue to be a joy. They're using Yorkshire-based Rounton Roasters, which they make with care and serve at the perfect temperature, warm but not scalding which allows the rounded milk texture to support great flavour.
As well as their coffee, they take their food seriously with lots of yummy, locally sourced fresh options - small or big breakfasts as well as a good choice of lunches, snacks and cakes. There really is something for everyone.
This one's a charmer and one to put on the regular visiting list.
Every day Espresso, aeropress Coffee: Has Bean & guests Also: Meals, beans, cakes
Coolness: To boldly go where very little specialty coffee exists!
Pacamara Food & Drink (4♥) is located just west of Dundee's city centre, close-ish to Dundee University.
To say Pacamara is out on a limb as purveyors of specialty coffee in the region, is an under-statement. They are a lonely beacon and we'll be very pleased if we can help drive more coffee lovers their way! We schlepped around Dundee at some length to learn this, saving you the palette-ache.
Espresso-based coffee lovers will be treated to a cracking Has Bean Jailbreak blend, comprised of equal parts Bolivian, Brazilian and Colombian. And Pacamara offer aeropress using guest beans of an equally high standard which you can also buy in retail bags. They stock some coffee making kit too, including the must-have aeropress.
Equal attention is paid to the food at Pacamara (as per the full title of their shop) and breakfast and lunch are available every day - dinner Wednesday to Sunday. Homemade bbq baked beans, brioche french toast and cooked breakfasts will get you off to the right start and their brunches Friday to Sunday are extra-special. They change regularly, but menu items such as 'Nutella and banana stuffed brioche french toast with strawberries, blue berries, mascarpone and maple syrup', 'wild garlic pesto scrambled eggs' and 'duck confit hash with poached egg' give you an indication. Lunches and dinners are equally creative and use high-quality ingredients.
Regular Saturdays - check his Twitter for details Espresso Coffee: Williams & Johnson Also: A sweet brownie type thing
Coolness: Grab a great coffee while you do your market shopping
The Bearded Barista (5♥) is Lewis uses Williams & Johnson coffee at his Stockbridge Markets stall on some Sundays - check Lewis' twitter feed for details.
Apart from great coffee, you can also expect a very friendly and down-to-earth experience with Lewis who is very attentive and happy to chat.
Other stalls at the Stockbridge Market (which is a sister market to the Leith and Grassmarket Markets) offer fresh veggies, seafood, poultry, meats cheeses, tasty take-away street foods and hand-made products. Many a local does their weekly fresh food shop at these markets, supporting smaller local producers which we are big fans of.
Williams & Johnson and Lewis regularly change their beans. You could find yourself drinking Brazilian, Costa Rican, Ethiopian or Kenyan - or something else depending on the season.
Grabbing a coffee and wandering around the markets is a very nice way to spend time!
This Saturday, Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange will transform into a haven for coffee lovers, as well as featuring some fine purveyors of tea, drinking chocolate and tasty bites.
Building on the successful format of friendly stallholders, informative talks, demonstrations, skills training sessions and cuppings, this year the annual Scottish Aeropress Championships is also part of the event.
So, what delights are we all in for?
Starting with the Scottish Aeropress Championships - the most chilled of coffee competitions.
Elimination heats run from 10.30am before doors open to the public at 1.30pm for two semi-finals (2pm and 3.30pm) before the final showdown at 5pm.
This year's judges Leo Belcher - Kaf Coffee, Claire Wallace - Assembly Coffee and 3rd placer in last year’s Champs and Robi Lambie - Cairngorm Coffee will literally point their fingers, paper-scissors-rock style, at their preferred brew in every heat, after blind tasting via the traditional slurp method. The one and only judging criteria is “which brew would I like to drink all of” and the judges don’t confer with each other before deciding.
Competitors have 8 minutes to prepare their Aeropress brew using only the ingredients of water and coffee. An MC will chat everyone through the event, usually with a fair amount of banter and chit chat, before holding up the arm of the crowned champion who wins travel and accommodation (thanks to iZettle) to Sydney for the World Aeropress Championships – and the adoration of their friends and ‘enemies’.
Spectating is thoroughly encouraged from 1.30pm and beer is often an important part of the event during the latter hours (for spectators) and afterwards (for judges and competitors too).
Jumping to stallholders, this year promises another great line up. Anyone who has been to previous events will tell you they are a friendly bunch. So far onboard are:
These coffee roasters love talking about their coffee – where it’s from, how it’s processed, flavour profiles and home brewing. You’ll meet the friendly faces from Cairngorm, Carvetii, Dear Green, Django, Fortitude, Gather & Gather (who also offer training), Gordon Street, Obadiah, Stirling and Unorthodox. Glasgow’s Thomson’s Coffee will also feature lovely shiny Victoria Arduino espresso machines and grinders.
Café and training facility Brew Lab are stallholders, and are also heavily involved in masterminding the Aeropress Championships.
Gourmands Cakesmith, Crystal Shortbread, Herbivore and Leaf & Bean will help keep your caffeine levels balanced and taste buds tantalised with mouth-watering cakes and baked items including gluten-free and vegan
Tea providores Eteaket and Rosevear Tea will delight you with a wide range and innovative flavours. These folk will re-inspire you to get beyond the supermarket tea bag and savour the joys of loose leaf tea and all that goes with it
Liquid Sunshine puts the turmeric into turmeric latte, and other health-giving drinks
Chocolate producers Ombar Chocolate will bring their range of dairy and sugar free raw and ethically created Ecuadorian chocolates and The Real Hot Chocolate Company will offer Madagascan drinking chocolate plus truffles and other goodies.
U-Roast will show you how their micro roasters enables you to roast your own coffee and also offer a variety of green coffee beans
Hidden Stag Design - Edinburgh based product design company who knock out stylish and ethically produced clothing, home accessories and items for coffee shops including customised coffee machines
On the learning and demonstrations front:
The Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) are running hour-long sessions on sensory (smell, taste, see type of senses), brewing, barista and roasting. These folk are the official accreditors within the coffee industry and will give you a speedy knowledge upload at 10.15am, 11.35am, 1.30pm and 2.50pm.
Talks include Manumit Coffee How coffee helps reduce slavery (this Cardiff-based roastery trains and employs people who have suffered modern slavery), Eteaket Tea Brewing Masterclass, Brewlab Aeropress Masterclass and SCA The Importance of Coffee Education – From Seed to Cup among others
Cuppings (how professionals taste, grade and choose coffee) from Olam Speciality Coffee (formerly Schluter) , Thomsons, Minasul and Gather & Gather (Artisan Roast).
And last, but definitely not least, the Coffee Festival is continuing to be a zero-waste event, facilitated with partners Vegware and the Corn Exchange. The Edinburgh Coffee Festival led the way last year on this front, proving it’s possible to avoid the vast environmental destruction caused by take-away coffee cups and containers. (More than 99.75% of over 2.5bn cups used annually in the UK aren't recycled and the plastic lining is particularly bad for the environment.)
The Festival is a fantastic opportunity to try different coffees, learn from friendly knowledgeable people, buy some cracking beans to brew and home and now also watch the fun and games of the Scottish Aeropress Championships.