Worst 10 Coffees in Edinburgh

As we publish the Coffee 100, over the course of the coming days, we’ll take time to reflect upon a real dud, for the sake of balance. I think we’ve actually managed to find 90 places in the city that we’d be happy to say are at least good, so the cautionary tales of Edinburgh coffee live only here…

91. Coffee Angel
If you have coffee in the name of your business, your coffee offering absolutely needs to be at least GOOD. Choosing Matthew Algie as your coffee supplier is not a good way to ensure that, but Coffee Angel consistently delivers a very poor coffee standard to further augment that weakness. After years of mediocrity, surely it’s time for a rethink.

92. Coffee Magic
Limini offers some very decent coffee, as served in one of our better restaurant coffee places, Sylvester’s. However, when you set up your machine too hot and scald it to death, you’re not giving things a chance. Coffee Magic by doing this disappointingly fails to live up to its name.

93. Henderson’s
I have a lot of love for Henderson’s, but when I got a stereo response to the question of worst place for coffee in the city from people with famously good palettes, I wasn’t going to argue. Shame, as I’m a big fan of their places, particularly the vegan restaurant on Thistle Street.

94. Cobbs
A place owned by David Freeman featured at number 2 on the original Espresso 100. And at 6, 7, 12, 18 and 22. The places subsequently closed with Cobbs taking over the flagship Freeman’s cafe in Marchmont. They opened serving Matthew Algie and have since moved on to feature Red Box Coffee Roasters from Edinburgh. Their coffee is so far inferior to what was there before it makes me almost weep every time I visit.

95. Italian on the Mound
I’ve always found people’s love for the Italian on the Mound, previously Caffe Espresso, a bit baffling. Their much-vaunted sandwiches are good but little beyond, service is a shambles, and their coffee is truly awful. This was seen to worst levels when they were the coffee stall for the BBC at Potterow tents during the 2015 Festival. They represented Edinburgh’s fantastic coffee scene incredibly poorly at this event.

96. Starbuck’s
When we wrote the previous Espresso 100, Starbuck’s were on a run of producing blandly inoffensive espresso, which was a big improvement from previous burnt days. Since then, they’ve moved to automated bean-to-cup machines. This stuff can barely be considered espresso and tastes bloody awful.

97. Caffe Nero
Offering one of the worst breakfast “muffins” in the history of food, Caffe Nero doesn’t do much to improve things with their disastrously bitter espresso. I know that Nero sometimes represents the least worst choice with other options in our train stations also pretty ghastly – AMT at Haymarket is probably the best – but this just means there’s a big opportunity for improvement in this area in the coming years.

98. Carpe Diem
Serving really dreadful Segafredo, Carpe Diem is a police box on Princes Street that offers pies and other whatnots to passing tourists. Although their espresso is only £1.25 it is definitely to be avoided, at any and all costs.

99. Deliveroo
Deliveroo is a delivery service, not a coffee purveyor, so quite what they thought they were doing dabbling in the Edinburgh coffee market, earlier this year, remains a mystery. Their free pop-up coffee stall, which they brought up from London and plonked in front of a couple of our finest independents – Castello and The Counter – was colossally stupid and annoyed more than a few of our judging panel.

100. Costa
Razzo was one of the best cafes in Edinburgh when their tenure at the St Andrew Square coffee pavilion ended. After a progressive succession of downgrades, concession operators Essential Edinburgh hit rock bottom by awarding the tender for this prime location to Costa. I tried their “No 11 Old Paradise Street Limited Roast”; it was beyond shit and a hugely embarrassing disgrace to Edinburgh coffee. Costa and Essential Edinburgh are therefore joint recipients of the Worst Coffee in Edinburgh “award”.

Written by BKR