The Milkman

The logo of the Milkman, on Edinburgh's Cockburn Street, a silhouette o the owner's grandfather, seen side-on, wearing a flat cap and smoking a pipe. It was taken from a photograph taken in 1938 at the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow.It is traditional that, when visiting Edinburgh, I pop into a just opened coffee shop. The trend started last year with Fortitude and continued with Cult Espresso. It’s therefore only fitting that Gary, from Cult Espresso, who I ran into at this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, was the one to put me onto The Milkman, the latest addition to Edinburgh’s thriving speciality coffee scene.

Conveniently located at the bottom of Cockburn Street, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the southern entrance to Edinburgh’s Waverley station, I popped in the following Monday, just a week after The Milkman had opened. It’s a tiny spot, having taken over from an old sweetshop which had the premises before it. Triangular in shape, it makes good use of the natural stone walls and amazing tiled floor to present a very pleasing interior.

The coffee is from Glasgow’s Dear Green, making it one of a handful of places in Edinburgh to use a Glaswegian roaster (and, arguably, the only speciality coffee shop to do so). Currently, there’s only espresso, but there are plans for a brew-bar in due course. Food is also initially limited to an impressive range of cake and toast/muesli for breakfast.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The newly-opened Milkman on Edinburgh's Cockburn Street. Complete with scaffolding.
  • It's not very big inside; this is pretty much all of it in one panoramic shot from inside the door.
  • The only thing that's missing is this bench seat in the window to the left of the door.
  • In time, the plan is for this to have a little table built in so you can sit lengthways on it.
  • On the other side of the door is a more conventional window-bar...
  • ... which goes around the corner where it becomes a wall-bar.
  • And here, seen all-in-one.
  • Next to that is a little nook in the right-hand wall. This too, in time, willl have a little table.
  • I like the sign, although when the light is on...
  • ... the camera misses out the all-important 'coffee & espresso bar'!
  • There's a lot of upcyciling going on, including this old street lamp (taken from outside).
  • Talking of lamps, there are some new ones as well.
  • Although it's mostly stone and wood, the Milkman also has a lot of greenery and flowers.
  • More flowers by the window.
  • There's also fruit (which you can buy, by the way)
  • The counter is made of recycled 150 year old wood, plus a bespoke concrete top.
  • The coffee is to the left, starting with this area which will become the brew bar.
  • Next is the espresso machine and its grinder.
  • The right-hand side is given over to the cake.
  • There's quite a lot of cake, including these beauties...
  • ... and these.
  • One of the perils of arriving in the Milkman's second week: the menu has yet to be hung up!
  • So, to business. A flat white and chocolate twist for breakfast? Yes please!
  • The chocolate twist is worth a second look. It was lovely.
  • A sign that the milk's been well-steamed: the latte art is still there at the bottom of the cup.
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From the outside, you could be forgiven for thinking that The Milkman hadn’t actually opened, which is largely down to the scaffolding that encloses the building. However, persevere, since the Milkman officially opened its door on Sunday, 11th October.

The layout is fairly simple, The Milkman occupying a triangular plot on the ground floor of a much larger building at the foot of Cockburn Street. The door is in the centre, with windows on either side. The window to the left is occupied by a large bench seat, while to the right there’s a three-person window-bar, which extends an equal distance along the right-hand wall. For now, that’s all the seating, although there are plans in hand for more. Indeed, there are quite a few plans for The Milkman, the philosophy having been to get the shop open and serving, rather than delaying things until everything was perfect.

The counter is directly ahead of you, curving away to your right, where The Milkman tapers to a point in the far corner. The espresso machine takes pride of place in the centre, while to the left is a small sink, with a food preparation area behind it. There are plans for the brew-bar to go here in due course. To the right of the espresso machine is a handsome and well-stocked cake cabinet, which you must walk past to get to the till, where you order and pay.

The Milkman has a gorgeous interior, making good use of the building’s natural stone walls and beautifully stone-tiled floor. There’s a fairly high plain white ceiling and although there’s not much natural light, this is supplemented by multiple spotlights. The plans for additional seating include adding a built-in table to the bench-seat in the left-hand window (similar to Lovecrumbs) and building a table with benches into the cosy nook in the right-hand wall. Other planned improvements include Wifi and a website.

The Milkman has many old/interesting features, including the original windlasses used to pull up the internal wooden shutters (still in full working order) and a counter made from 150 year old reclaimed Canadian wood, in contrast to the bespoke concrete counter-top.

I’d popped in on my way to catch a train to Glasgow and was looking for breakfast. I completely missed that the Milkman does toast, so settled instead for a chocolate and hazelnut twist before realising my mistake and have a second breakfast of crunchy white toast with butter and jam.

I paired this with my usual first coffee of the day, a flat white. This was a slightly darker roast than I’ve become used to, cutting nicely through the milk, which, by the way, was expertly steamed, holding the latte art all the way to the bottom of the cup. My chocolate twist was also very enjoyable. Quite firm, with an almost crunchy-topped pastry, it wasn’t as sweet as some, making it an excellent choice for breakfast.

The aim is for the Milkman to open from seven until seven, but at the moment opening hours are a little erratic. For example, I popped by at 8.15 on Wednesday morning for a flat white to take on the train back to London only to find that the door was firmly closed… Hopefully these are just teething troubles…

7 COCKBURN STREET • EDINBURGH • EH1 1BP
https://instagram.com/themilkmancoffee/
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Roaster Dear Green (espresso only, but filter is coming)
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Bars, Bench Seat
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Toast, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (coming soon)
Sunday TBC Power Yes
Chain No Visits 19th October 2015

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Edinburgh for more great Coffee Spots.


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3 thoughts on “The Milkman

  1. This is one of my most favourite Spots. Such a beautiful building to get hold of. Even unfinished/furnished!
    Yes, a lovely twist I’m sure. But still got my scanties in a twist I’m afraid: criminal cake FAIL here.
    You broke the rules.
    Breakfast, dinner or Last Meal, Brian: ALWAYS GET THE CHEESECAKE.
    It even had chocolate and raspberries.

  2. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station | Brian's Coffee Spot

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