Another one from the secret chain, sister to Kilimanjaro, Project and Blackwood Coffees, and who knows what else, this was the first cafe in Edinburgh that raised my mocha-drinking experience to a whole new level and to which for a long time I would compare all subsequent coffees around town. Now, a couple of years later, I have a slightly different opinion – but only slightly.
I remember seeking this place out with my long-time coffee companion; it was his idea, in fact, as we were walking down George Street, looking for a place to sit down for a chat. “I know a place…” he said, and since I heard the name Wellington before, accompanied by a few superlatives, I agreed happily to begin our search. It was easier than I make it sound, but I kind of found it by chance, as I remember shouting out in excitement: “Here it is!”. Quite literally on the corner of Geroge and Hanover, down a few steps and through a narrow door we entered “the best coffee place in town”. Well, they do say that it’s not the size that matters, and this was surely the case. A couple of tables, three bar-style tables by the window and the opposite wall, and a bar/counter; that’s all there was inside. Oh, and a welcoming yet relaxing atmosphere was present also. And as we ordered our mochas, I understood why people were making it out to be a sort of a mystical coffee heaven – that’s what it was.
After my recent visit I was tempted to say not much has changed, although some things have. First and foremost, they had a refurb – a fact that I had not noticed until I wanted to use the loo: the wall was moved forward which made the bathroom slightly bigger; and apart from new paint, I have not noted any other exterior changes.
Regarding service, well, here also not many changes; again, there was just one barista for all the customers that were coming in (it will never fail to surprise me how swiftly people are moving in this tiny space and always seemed to be finding a seat) so, although he wouldn’t show it, he must have been struggling processing transactions, making drinks and delivering them to tables at the same time. He did indeed seem a bit stressed when he brought my soy mocha. It looked gorgeous, as always, and as always up to standard, with chocolate shavings on top and a nice, not too thick but lovely creamy foam on top. However, I discovered to my horror, it wasn’t as great as I remembered it. I am inclined to believe that soy milk has a significant effect on the drinks made by these guys, as I experienced at Blackwood Coffee, as both lacked the full body of Project and Kili – understandable, if they make their usual beverages with whole milk, as the higher the fat content the higher the density of the micro-foam created through steaming. But this one had even less texture than Blackwoods‘s and the flavours – although still mouthwatering – didn’t work together as well as I expected.
I am happy to blame it on the late hour and the tough day that the guy must have been having; he brightened up when we spoke for a minute about the new decor; also, a girl appeared behind the bar, so he was getting reinforcement. However, I have had a few visits to this place within these two years, and I never again felt the sensation that I did when I was drinking my first Wellington mocha. Shame.
Verdict justification: Probably your best coffee option on George Street (if there’s any seats left), but doesn’t live up to ‘ expectations set out by its sisters
Wellington Coffee, 33a George Street, EH2 2HN, 0131 225 6854