I got really excited about this place; a true gem I found by chance.
Having visited Stockbridge for a cup of coffee at a recommended cafe (review coming soon) I was making my way back thinking of anything else but another beverage. I was looking at the clear blue skies above (not a common scene in Edinburgh recently), not at the little shops dotted on Howe Street I was passing by. Yet, I glanced at an A-board outside one of these venues; handwritten “coffee” brought me back to earth and made me stop in my ways. A second to rationalise about what I was about to do – two coffees in the space of an hour? That’s surely not a good idea! But the place was pulling me like a magnet, and I felt like a treasure seeker who spotted a chest buried in the sand.
It’s not hard to miss Leo’s Beanery, as it’s one of those Stockbridge/New Town businesses located on the basement level; if not for the A-board AND the chattering of a few happy people enjoying their coffee and sun combination outside, I would have probably obliviously walked past it. Thank goodness for weather-miracles in Scotland!
Inside felt bright, fresh and inviting; centrally located till looked like its purpose was just to be a surface from which the barista would pick up a beverage or a cake to serve it to a customer – not a barrier separating the cafe and the “staff only zone”. Right by it, a barista was busy making coffees, unobstructed by walls or equipment, exposed to all visitors, who could freely observe his every move (thanks to which I could change my milk choice to soy in the last minute, before he started steaming the whole one). The cake choices were intriguing and tempting (I would sure like to try the toasted coconut loaf next time), and the coffee menu – abundant and fairly priced. And the staff? Friendly, helpful and very understanding, considering that I was a bit of a pain. My change of milk request wasn’t met with any kind of annoyance, and the barista even bothered to rinse the jug to prep it for soya.
These surroundings were simply a prelude to a great cup of mocha.Dense and creamy, perfect temperature and with a bit of latte art on top, which can be tricky using soy milk. And although it was Alpro Soya Original (the sweetened variety), the sweetness of the coffee itself was not overwhelming but pleasantly satisfying. A piece that truly makes you sad to see the bottom of the cup.
Leo’s Beanery was established in 2010 by a couple: Joe and Marie. They wanted to set up a community coffee shop that would cater for the locals, but it feels more than that. As an outsider, I felt at home in this spacious, kind of a modern-rustic interior, which somehow conveys their Artisan Roast pride and in a way resembles the Fairtrade advocates Urban Angel a few blocks away (I have no personal views on Fairtrade and rather mixed experiences of Angel’s food; I did like, however, their simplistic decor and the atmosphere of relaxed professionalism about the place).
Although whatever lies on this side of Queen Street seems to miss out on the weekly invasion of hungry and thirsty New Town clientele (ending their search in better or worse George Street venues), I certainly think that at Leo’s crossing that road will be highly rewarding. Enjoy the tranquillity before the word spreads!
http://www.leosbeanery.co.uk/ (coming soon)