Another place on Leith Walk which I pass virtually every day, which always attracts the eye with witty A-boards, but which I had never visited before; it looks rather small from the outside, more like a take-away coffee place than an actual cafe. But when a friend who lives on the same street said that I need to go in and have “their amazing pancakes”, I thought I should indeed go and check whether their Fair Trade coffee stands up to the excellence of their breakfasts.
I was greeted at the door by all three staff: two behind the counter and one chilling on the chair just by the entrance. I explained quickly that it was my first time and that I needed to take a quick look at the menu; but since I hate being observed, especially by three pairs of eyes at once, I just stared at the drinks list for a few seconds after which I asked bluntly: do you do pancakes? I wanted to kick myself for playing dumb from the start: not only did the notes in the windows claim “Best Pancakes in Edinburgh” but also did the A-board for that day. Nevertheless, the younger-looking guy (the shy one, as it turned out later) patiently pointed out the right section on the menu, and added: “But they’re Scotch pancakes, not crepes”. Now, that was a disappointment, as all I had been thinking about that morning was tucking into lovingly overfilled rolled up sweet flat cakes; and I was glad for that word of annotation as that helped me decide to only stick to my mocha as a breakfast option that day.
I requested my medium size drink and was invited inside, to take a seat. Modestly decorated, the place had a lot of character, and actually set my day to a great start (despite the pancake fiasco) thanks to the poster with one-liners on the opposite wall that absolutely cracked me up. I was served my coffee shortly after, and a couple of minutes later, I was out; and that’s a good thing. First of all, the coffee was nicely presented and was of good size, especially considering the price. The texture was excellent: smooth and creamy, no separated sections of foam and milk, and the amount of chocolate was just right. And, of course, the temperature was ideal to drink up quickly without getting one’s tongue scalded. When it came to paying, I was asked by the older-looking guy whether I enjoyed my coffee: for me this is a sign that someone cares, as they are prepared to take on criticism; I also figured he was the one making my drink, which then confirmed my guess that he was a senior barista in the place. Whether it was thanks to his presence or not, this was a lovely experience which proved that appearances can be deceiving: although one place might seem small, it might hold a great potential within. And yeah, Fair Trade does taste good sometimes!
Medium Mocha: £2.25
Verdict justification: A great cup of coffee! The only tiny minus was that there was a slightly stronger taste of whole milk than in other coffees of 5 star ratings. Or I was just feeling funny on the day…
Fair Trade Coffee Shop, 30-31 Albert Place, Edinburgh, 0131 476 2698