Student Guide 2015: Best Cafés

Best cafes

Brewlab, Edinburgh

We pick out some of Glasgow and Edinburgh's best spot for a coffee, cake and for working in


With a wide range of independent cafes across the city, you'll never need to spend money in Starbucks again. Instead save your pennies for Glasgow's West End branch of Artisan Roast, which offers great coffee in its quirky, chilled-out Gibson Street venue. Or pop next door and sink into the deep comfy couches of Offshore; a perfect studying alternative to the library, with great snacks and free wifi.

Then again, you could head round to Byres Road and try Avenue G's top-quality coffee and locally sourced food, before wandering along to test Smile Café's award-winning marocchinos. Let's not forget about Great Western Road's Papercup Coffee Company, a small shop that roasts only the finest beans on the market, and Cottonrake, which only has a few seats but provides delicious baked goods.

Moving into the city centre, Riverhill Coffee Bar is an easy-to-miss gem, with some of the best cakes in the city and a variety of coffees and hot chocolates. Or walk along to Duke Street, where the stripped back McCune Smith Café offers stimulation for the mind as well as the taste buds – each sandwich is inspired by a figure of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Over the river in Glasgow's Southside, Tapa Coffeehouse's focus on the local, organic and ethical will allow you to feel good about tucking into a bacon and eggs breakfast. There's also No Way Back, owned by DJ Kenny Grieve, which serves a range of tacos, sandwiches and drinks, including coffee from local roasters Dear Green. (Claire Flynn)


Wherever you go in Edinburgh, its cafes and coffee shops are filled with dreamy nooks and crannies for reading, working or just cosying-up. In the Old Town, you'll find long-standing student favourite Black Medicine on the corner of Nicolson Street and Drummond Street; grab a window seat for the perfect people-watching spot. Across the road, BrewLab is the local coffee connoisseur's choice. Look out for the cold brew coffee on a hot day too.

Wander a little further south and you'll find Kilimanjaro, another longtime student haunt; there's a wide-choice of excellent teas here, so it's a great café for non-coffee drinkers too. Nearby, the relatively new and already much-loved Filament Coffee keeps it simple, with a small menu that's divided into Coffee and Not Coffee.

Over in the New Town, Edinburgh's own branch of Artisan Roast on Broughton Street does good coffee in relaxed surroundings – but there's no wi-fi here, so leave your laptop at home. Further west, the Caffeine Drip on Melville Place offers affordable coffee too, with an excellent South African-influenced food menu. And near Haymarket, Milk is an excellent choice for coffee in fresh surroundings.

Looking for something sweet on the side? West Port's Lovecrumbs offers some of the city's finest coffee and cake, with cosy window seats for lone readers and large tables for big groups. And on the few occasions that the sun appears, get in line at Mary's Milk Bar for some first-rate gelato. They also do a mean line in hot chocolates, so you'll win there at any time of year. (Yasmin Sulaiman)