When people said there was a new coffee house in the town centre, I was rather surpised: I’m there practically every day, yet I’ve not seen any signs of a new establishment; then again, I only found out there was a new Jamie Oliver’s restaurant opening on George Street by eavesdropping on a chef looking for a new job, and I like to believe I know a lot about the catering scene in Edinburgh. Intrigued, I googled “Fredrick Street coffee”, and came up with Fredrick Coffee House: not new at all, the search had proved, as it’s been there since 2010; yet, it sure did take me by surprise, and I had to go round for a snoop.
A narrow, atmospheric staircase of a traditional tenement house led to a landing with an average looking door; there was little indication of where to go, but following the suggestion of the A-board outside – the only signage of Fredricks from a pedestrian’s level, apart from a minimalistic poster on the side of the building visible from across the street – the first floor was the place to be. I opened the door and looked around – I saw a cake cabinet in the room on the right and, despite the lack of other coffee shop props, decided that must have been the cafe area. Indeed, following a counter with the cake display and a coffee machine by the door, the room was dotted with tables and chairs and even a sofa by the fireplace. Once someone’s living room, it was now a bright, warm and inviting social venue. There were only two customers working away on their laptops when I came in; I ordered a soy mocha with the smiling girl that appeared from the room behind the counter and took a seat by the window for a gorgeous view of Fredrick Street and The Mound on that sunny Sunday afternoon. It surely seemed like one’s ideal of a coffee shop: a tranquil place in the middle of the bustling town, distanced from the noise and crowds only by one storey and some glass windows, and still letting you catch a breather before plunging back into the crazy pace of the new-town-life outside.
The mocha, unlike my few previous experiences, had a very thin but smooth layer of foam on top, which blended well with the rest of the beverage. It was of the right drinking temperature, and there was a significant taste of soy milk throughout – a very pleasant sensation, indicating, in my opinion, both: an appropriate steaming technique (soy demands more attention when steaming than average milk, as it reacts differently to temperature) and a good quality soy milk. The main minus was its intensity, or rather – the lack of it. The coffee lacked punchiness, and it tasted more like espresso-and-chocolate-fortified milk drink than a coffee. I did opt for a single shot option, expecting that to be a standard; I might have been mistaken in my reasoning, yet, this was the weakest mocha I recall drinking, considering average pricing of this beverage (also in the town centre). Unless you’re cutting down on caffeine, you should definitely go for a double-shot option.
Fredricks Coffee House is a charming retreat for office workers and shoppers bang in the middle of New Town (although it might take on a different feel when it gets busier). With a good choice of sweets and snacks, it can’t really disappoint, and at these prices (and location) it’s easy to forget you’re sandwiched between the Princess Street – George Street madness.
Soy Mocha: 2,45
Verdict justification: Lovely place and good execution – but to call it a coffee, it needs to be stronger!