Of all the areas in Edinburgh, Fountainbridge is probably the one which has changed the most in recent years. Following the closure of the breweries, it has rapidly transformed into a residential area, packed with new flats. As in other areas of the city (such as that around Salamander Street), a whole new area of the city has emerged with new streets and squares engraved onto the city map.
At the same time, the number of eateries and coffee spots in the area has multiplied. The most obvious places for coffee in the area are Loudons at the Tollcross end of Fountainbridge and Grow Urban, which offers a now familiar combination of botanical goods and specialty coffee. Edinburgh Printmakers, who have creatively repurposed the surviving part of the once vast North British Rubber Company complex, also serve coffee in their popular vegan café. This is one of the clearest manifestations of change in the area.
One potentially interesting coffee destination is the mysterious Main St Beanery at the junction of Fountainbridge and Gilmore Place. This place has been closed for a long time but still seems to be being looked after and kept ready. But, ready for what? This long period of mothballing has prompted all sorts of colourful theories online. Shortly before the festive period, a Christmas tree appeared in the window, which again suggested that it might reopen. But as yet, there is no sign of espresso pouring through the portafilters at this Mary Celeste of a place.
Fortunately, just a few yards away is undoubtedly the top coffee spot in the area. Though small, The Coffee Cave is very much open and has quickly built up a strong reputation since starting business in May 2021. The place is easy to miss, wedged between Hank’s Sandwich Bar and Grow Urban. Don’t miss out.
On my visits there, I’ve been served really well made coffees which have been rich and flavoursome. As they should, their cortados really pack a punch with a satisfyingly thick crema colliding with the textured milk. Just the type of coffee that people need in the early morning – many commuters will pass by The Coffee Cave on their way to Haymarket Station. It’s also ideal for those wanting to follow the canal-side walkway which offers one of the most interesting ‘active travel’ routes in the city. Once a backwater, it’s increasingly busy. Take care as you pass under the bridges – you wouldn’t want to see your skilfully brewed coffee knocked from your hand into the water!
The coffee served by The Coffee Cave is roasted by Linlithgow based Black Dog Coffee. Their coffees include the Kambo which has notes of ‘dark chocolate, caramel, honey and slightly floral scents’. Black Dog and The Coffee Cave have been working together to bring the customers ‘a variety of seasonal coffees, so the selection we have available is grown and harvested at specific times according to its location, to ensure we deliver the best possible taste to you.’ These words are certainly borne out by the positive feedback they’ve consistently received.
The Coffee Cave is takeaway only, selling a selection of sweet treats (such as a raspberry and coconut macaroon) alongside the coffee; as well as offering Black Dog beans for home brewing. They also serve savoury snacks, with their black pudding sausage roll a seeming favourite. Noted by myself and several other customers is the service offered by the baristas; warm and welcoming. As Fountainbridge becomes an increasingly popular area, there’s little doubt that the coffee scene will expand. The Coffee Cave has set a high standard for others to follow.
- The Coffee Cave
- 158 Fountainbridge
- EH3 9RX