Looking for coffee and a good cake

As Caroline prepares for a quick return trip to Stockholm, I am thinking of the missed opportunities for ‘fika’ while I remain in Edinburgh. It has been a while since Edinburgh Foody strolled the streets to taste the local coffees and this week offers a chance to resolve that. This eclectic catch-up covers four places I have been into in the past few months, so I shall review it at a later date with a thought towards Edinburgh’s geography and other ‘new’ favourites which slipped my mind this afternoon.

The view from Don't tell mama. (It's OK, you can tell anyone you like. Really.)

The view from Don’t tell mama. (It’s OK, you can tell anyone you like. Really.)

Castello Coffee

Bruntsfield, 7-8 Barclay Terrace

In a previous role, Castello Coffee on Castle Street had become my regular stopping point for a pre-work coffee. I was interested to visit their main site in Bruntsfield and get a feel for the main site. Castello Coffee is only a few yards from Bruntsfield Road, but that distance allows for a quiet space with a view out over the beginning of the meadows. Castello Coffee has a strange layout, but is a comfortable place with plenty of room to sit.

Relaxing with cake and coffee. I wouldn't call it a hobby, but...

Relaxing with cake and coffee. I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but…

I ordered an Americano & coffee cake and sat in the window seat. Service is quick, for both a quick coffee and lunch. The coffee was delicious with a good & young, with a good hint of citrus. However, I was less impressed with the coffee cake which was dry & powdery. * I have since revisited Castello Coffee to enjoy another cake and believe that the first coffee cake was an aberration.

Tea & Sympathy

Shandon, Ashley Terrace

The south west of Edinburgh suffers from a lack of good places to break your day, which makes Tea & Sympathy in Shandon stand out as a lovely little place to break your day with coffee and a lovely piece of cake.

I ordered an Americano and a slice of Victoria sponge. The coffee was pleasant, if nothing special; however, the cake was very good and more than made up for the coffee. The sponge was light and had a wonderful hit of raspberry jam.

Victoria sponge! Take it easy, relax, and get some sugary goodness.

Victoria sponge! Take it easy, relax, and get some sugary goodness.

Tea & Sympathy is a cute, cosy and comfortable place. There are between 15 and 20 seats inside and a couple of small benches on the street. If planning a visit, I would avoid the end of the school day. I arrived mid-afternoon, just before the rush of parents & grandparents treating their children. The children were incredibly well-behaved but tables filled up quickly!

I like Tea & Sympathy and have stopped there a couple of times. I enjoy the cosy feel and find it a quiet place to pause a walk and treat myself to a slice of something delicious.

Don’t tell mama

Tollcross, 64 Home Street

A friend from Greece mentioned the opening of Don’t tell mama Tolcross. He had enjoyed the spanakopita and recommended a visit. At the risk of mixing cultures, I popped in for fika on a Thursday morning to break up the day. Don’t tell mama is a light, modern and airy space. There were already a small number of people in the cafe having conversations (I was pleased to see people going to a cafe to talk and not face down in a laptop!).

Cake! Caroline's spanakopita features on Instagram.

Lavender and Earl Frey cake! Caroline’s spanakopita features on Instagram.

The guys behind the counter were very welcoming and talked me through the options. As it was only 11 am, I ordered a long black (I got an Americano) and a piece of the lavender, chocolate and earl grey cake. The coffee was grainy and too strong for my tastes which hid the any the flavour or complexity. I had ordered the cake as it sounded either interestingly different or very confused. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked. It consisted of a light chocolate flavour with balancing hit of earl grey, followed by a gentle lavender after taste. I know, it sounds strange but is worth a try. I have since returned with Caroline and she really enjoyed the spanikopita.

Cult Espresso

Southside, Buccleuch Street

Despite living in the west of Edinburgh, I often seem to end up near to the University. One such trip found me in Cult Espresso on Buccleuch Street. From the outside Cult appears to be tiny, but the inside stretches out like a mini-Tardis (well, it is still narrow but does seem to stretch back for ever). Cult is smack in the middle of studentsville and has the laid atmosphere (and Lego models) that would suggest. The service is friendly & efficient, with my long black and lavender & cranberry bake arriving quickly. The coffee was excellent. My first thought that it was a little to thick, almost muddy, but it had a delicious taste – both smooth and bitter. The bake was good, with a pleasant lavender taste but the berries added little.

I like the feel of Cult Espresso and think that do an excellent coffee (the best in the area). I was less impressed with the bake, but have since returned and enjoyed a tasty lunch.

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