Edinburgh is littered with small independent establishments boasting calm atmospheres and serving all manner of hot drinks, but not all of them have earnt the title of study cafe. I put together this guide during my winter exams of 2016 after realising the library wasn't for me (too busy) and I can't concentrate in my room (not busy enough).

This list is non-exhaustive guide, so by all means go out and find your own study cafe in which to work.


6A Nicholson Street, EH8 9D

Normal opening hours: 10am - 11pm

The first establishment on this list is Spoon Cafe Bistro (no affiliation). This quaint cafe is spread out across what appears to be the many rooms of a former apartment, with the small jutting remnants of walls indicating doorways and thresholds. 

Spoon offers a delicious range of dishes from breakfast through till tea, such as steamed mussels with garlic & lemon, and toasted waffles with bacon, blueberries, & maple syrup.

With mismatched vintage 20th century furniture and tall windows throwing natural sunlight throughout the building almost all day, the homely environment is completed with free wifi and welcoming staff. The food may be on the pricier side, but this is definitely one study cafe to check out for atmosphere alone. 


104 Nicolson St, EH8 9EJ

Normal opening hours: 7:30am - 8:30pm

Nestled in between two charity shops, the humble red facade of Kilimanjaro Coffee almost blends into the adjacent British Heart Foundation shop front. With its inviting leather sofas and pleasingly worn wooden furniture, this cafe offers a peaceful haven from the bustle of Nicholson St.

While this cafe's location may attract a reasonably heavy footfall of both students and non-students alike, the gentle buzz never ascends above a tolerable level; if anything, it provides a relaxing backdrop to work against.


2 Nicolson St, EH8 9DH

Normal opening hours: 8am - 8pm

Black Medicine is definitely one of the more distinctive cafes on this list, thanks to its tongue-in-cheek messages plastered across its walls and unique theme. One particular plaque makes it crystal clear that Harry Potter was not in fact written on the premises (contrary to some rumours), and another warns of the dangers of leaving coffee/kids/anything unattended. 

The Native American/Aztec style results in a dazzling array of strange wooden furniture, giving the feeling of having wandered into a rogue carpenter's private workshop.

While this may not be the most physically comfortable environment, space is in abundance with a large downstairs seating area catering to almost exclusively students and young adults. 


 155 West Port, EH3 9DP

Normal opening hours: 10:30am - 6pm

At the intersection of industrial minimalism and vintage bohemian design, Lovecrumbs was born. Situated right next to the EU College of Art, it attracts a young and fashionable crowd.

The cakes are excellent and change on a daily basis, with special dietary considerations taken into account (I recommend the vegan carrot cake or the gluten-free rose and coconut).

Don't be fooled by the fogged windows and almost plain black shopfront: yes, it is a cafe, yes, it is open, and yes, you can get lunch here.

The two deep windows have been converted into seats with the addition of large floppy cushions for comfort, and at the right time of day they catch the sun and allow you to bask in the warmth like a contented house cat.


6-8 S College St, EH8 9AA

Normal opening hours: 8am - 6pm

Marketing itself as an 'artisan coffee bar', Brew Lab Coffee is usually rammed with students up to its tastefully industrial rafters.

Despite its business, this well-known student favourite is always well stocked with a range of juices and cakes, along with multiple choices of coffee beans. It also stocks assorted coffee paraphernalia, such as aeropresses, books, and even tote bags.

One warning: getting a seat at this study cafe requires careful strategic planning, so try and get there during a lull, for example early morning or after lunch


3 Bristo Place, EH1 1EY

Normal opening hours: 9am - 1am

Checkpoint draws a more varied crowd, with an equal mixture of young professionals, students, and middle aged couples, thanks to its more upmarket menu and decor. A reclaimed shipping container housing a table and some chairs lurks in the seating area, providing an unusual place to bury your head in that overdue assignment you've been working on for weeks.

It also boasts coffee from the celebrated (and local) Roundsquare Roastery, which only adds to the experience of sitting in the sunlit front of the room chipping away at your lecture notes.


53-59 South Bridge, EH1 1LS

Normal opening times: 7:30am - 7pm

I was fully intending to avoid chain cafes in this article, but I'll let this be the exception.

Situated snugly under a branch of Blackwell's, this branch of Caffè Nero is ideal as the quiet air of the bookshop permeates downstairs into the cafe. This creates a studious atmosphere, and textbooks are only a staircase away.


37 Marshall St, EH8 9BJ

Normal opening times: 9am - 5pm

Quirky and quaint, Elephants and Bagels is probably the closest of these cafes to George Square, and for that reason is often brimming with students grabbing a quick meal between lectures.

The charming red and white shop front hides a cosy interior plastered with hand drawn pictures of elephants, where you can pick and choose your own sandwiches from a plethora of ingredients and breads.

Generous single window seats with handy plug sockets and hanging plants provide excellent study pods for those nursing a hot drink in a branded mug and deadline anxiety


 30 Buccleuch St, EH8 9LP

Normal opening hours: 8am - 6:30pm

What Press Coffee lacks in size, it makes up for in character. This small oasis sits just behind EU's main library, where it is frequented by a diverse clientele due to its subtle charm. With minimal design and clean edges, a Wes Anderson-esque feel warms the building throughout.

Unfortunately, Press lacks both wifi and plug sockets, so this is more of a work-in-between-lectures place, rather than a place to toil away for hours. However, the scones are just as good as the coffee, and the location is ideal for short layovers between tutorials.