55 plus 04: Coffee in Edinburgh

Posted: 21 August 2019 in 55 plus

I drink a lot of coffee in Edinburgh.

Fair enough; I drink a lot of coffee wherever I am, but there are three places I actually enjoy drinking coffee in Edinburgh; each for different reasons.

The ‘Protected From The Weather’ Place. Convenient, central, the Costa Coffee outside the Waverley Mall on Princes Street is a handy place with – if you like ‘chain coffee’ – decent coffee and a nice location. Can’t really comment on the staff of the place, other than that they’re incredibly nice given how much business they see, and how they’re pretty much non-stop from the moment they open until they the moment they close; I don’t think I’ve ever been in there where I’ve not had to queue for a bit.

But what I like about the place is where I choose to sit: outside… where a strange confluence of the outside of the shopping centre, the signage, a monument outside, the stairs leading up to the Main Street… all combine to provide a weird oasis from the current weather, whatever the current weather is. If it’s raining hard, there are a couple of tables protected from the elements. If it’s bright sunshine, there’s shade provided. On a broiling hot day, there’s always a breeze as there’s effectively a ‘tube of fresh air’ that passes directly in front.

I’ve never come across a place that is always protected from the elements and provides just a nice place to have coffee.

The ‘Watching As People Go By’ Place. Directly outside the Pleasance Dome, attached to the outside really, is a place currently called Baristo. I’ve genuinely no idea if it was called that least year, whether it’ll still be called that last year, whether it’s always been called that. I’ve always just known it as ‘the coffee place outside The Pleasance Dome’. I discovered it on one of my first visits and it’s a favourite place to go to just before or just after a show; not just a show in the Dome, but at the Gilded Balloon, at the Assembly George Square, anywhere near Bristo Square. They remodelled it a couple of years ago, but it’s still one of my favourite places to sit, and people watch, and just chill out for a bit. Very nice coffee; very nice hot chocolate, if you’ve had too much coffee; it’s just… nice.

I get to see people walking past; I hear people talking about shows they’re off to see, or shows they’ve seen; I hear people praising shows they’ve seen, and occasionally panning them. And – delightfully – I hear the excitement of people that they’re actually in Edinburgh… at the Edinburgh fucking Fringe. Which pleases me enormously.

And, as often as not, I’ll see a friend walk past, or rather, start to walk past, spot me, then join me briefly while we catch up. It’s a nice place.

My Favourite Place. My second time in Edinburgh, I was up very early and out very early. Something like 8am, which I appreciate is a time that most people in Edinburgh in August will regard as either a non-existent time or an hour that triggers a ‘huh, you’re still up?’ response . Anyway, I went for a wander. I was walking along Princes Street, just wandering, enjoying the walk, discovering the city, when I came across a coffee shop, almost hidden away. Castello in Castle Street. The people were lovely, the coffee delicious and I made a mental note to return later in the week or at least to remember the place.

I did neither. I returned the following year, remembered that there was a coffee shop I wanted to go back to, and never found it. Bah. The next year, however, after I’d given up expecting to find it, I stumbled over it again purely by chance. This time I took an electronic note of the address, and took a photo of the front, knowing that a geotag would be attached. So I could find it again. And I’ve visited Castello a couple of times every visit since. The people remain lovely, the coffee remains delicious. And I recommend the place – and the coffee – without hesitation.

Something else tomorrow…

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