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The Ultimate Edinburgh Student Café Guide

Are you really an Edinburgh student if you don’t sit about in cafés leeching off their WiFi with one oat latte between four for hours on end? Now with rising energy prices, it’s even more important to know where to head to keep warm and pretend to do uni work, so here’s a (far from complete) guide to some of the best cafes in Edinburgh.  

Black Medicine is a University of Edinburgh rite of passage. While the tree-trunk benches aren’t the most comfortable for hours of studying, Black Med is always crammed full of students taking advantage of the WiFi.   

For days when you need a cozy cute café to make those tedious readings a little more bearable, head to Edinburgh Coffee Lounge. It’s the perfect place when you need somewhere that feels homely and comforting. Insider tip: try out their Rose Chai Latte, it’s the perfect comfort drink!

Don’t Tell Mama, in Tollcross, is another great place to study or meet a friend for an hour or two. While it’s not massive, their Greek-inspired pastries and coffee are to die for.

Kilimanjaro, on Nicolson Street, is another Edinburgh Uni staple. Although they don’t have WiFi, Kilimanjaro is constantly full of students romanticizing life with their vintage novels and plant-based coffees. They’re also open a lot later than most other cafes so are perfect for a late afternoon coffee date, as let’s be honest most of us students are only just beginning our days while the cafés are closing.

When your student loan has just come in, head down to Stockbridge and grab brunch at Cowan and Sons. They have an insane brunch menu and a good range of vegan cakes as well. But if you don’t want to fall into your overdraft just yet; head to Grow Urban, a little coffee shop inside a plant shop in Stockbridge.

Don’t skip over August 21, the cutest café next to Summerhall – not only is the oat milk free, but they also use their space to host art exhibitions and live music nights. I was tempted to gatekeep August 21, as I like how it hasn’t yet been taken over by the swarms of identical Pollock girls, but it’s too perfect not to mention.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet but on a tight budget, then Dai Pai is the one. Putting up with the disjointed trashy playlist, one moment playing Adele and the next ACDC is worth it though for the free cake with your coffee. Dai Pai is also open late and has WiFi so is the perfect café for banging out those last-minute essays.

La Viola is another gem in Tollcross, they are open late and have an insane range of cakes and full-on meals. The cutest little café to meet friends for a late lunch or cheeky procrastination coffee.

Just next door is Pulp and Grind, another great study café with good WiFi and plenty of space so you don’t have to feel too guilty sitting for hours with only one coffee.

At the top of Leith Walk, there’s Café Elmrow with good-priced coffee, turmeric lattes and matcha for that much-needed post-freshers health kick. It’s small and cozy, not so much a study cafe but the cutest little place to relax on a day out.

Lastly, skip the pretentiousness of Cult Espresso and go next door to Snax Café, the best café for the rough morning after. The prices are crazy cheap for Edinburgh and are exactly what you need when you’re hungover and feeling like death.

This is by no means a definitive list of the best coffee shops in Edinburgh but is just a small guide to some of my favourites and the ones where it’s acceptable to pull out your laptop and sit for hours. After all, are you really an Edinburgh Uni student if you don’t spend all your student loan on coffees under the pretence of studying?

Image ‘Latte art at Freestate Coffee’ by duncan is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.