Freemans Coffee

Comfy Sofas in Freemans Coffee, Marchmont, EdinburghWhat do you mean, you shut at six o’clock? You mean I can’t stay here forever? That’s just not fair…

As you can tell, I was rather taken by Freemans Coffee in Marchmont in Edinburgh. It might just be the perfect coffee spot for me (and that’s saying something, since there’s lots of competition). It’s an incredibly large, open space with high ceilings, well-spaced tables, interspersed by sofas and comfy chairs.

And then there’s the coffee. Don’t get me started on the coffee! Four grinders, two guest blends, a decaf, the usual espresso-based drinks, a V60 option for one of the guests and a cafetiere for the other.

And don’t forget the cakes, with perhaps the best flapjack I’ve had in my life. And the staff are lovely. And there’s free wifi and power. There’s even outside seating and a guarantee of a sunny day (if I read the website right).

Any of these would be sufficient by themselves, but put them all together and Freemans might just live up to its boast of being the best coffee shop in Edinburgh. Or possibly the world…

September 2014: Freemans closed earlier this year and looks as if it is gone for good. If you want to find out more about the reasons why it closed, check out David Freemans’ blog about his new business venture, including some insights into what went wrong at Freemans.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

[Gallery Temporarily Removed]

Freemans Coffee was the last stop on the first day of the Coffee Spot tour of Edinburgh, a day that had taken me from the centre of town to Marchmont, one of my old stomping grounds. I suspect that being out in Marchmont might explain the feeling of space that struck me on stepping into Freemans. While I can’t imagine that the rent is cheap, in comparison to the centre of Edinburgh, I suspect it’s significantly less, which gives Freemans the freedom to spread out a little. Compared to the cramped conditions of say, Artisan Roast, Wellington Coffee or even Brew Lab, Freemans was an oasis of space, making it a great place to sit and drink coffee.

And what coffee there is to drink! I know I made much of Brew Lab’s obsession with different ways to make coffee, but Freemans is not far behind. It’s just not as in-your-face about it. Refined Marchmont gentility versus brash student upstarts perhaps?

Freemans offers the usual espresso range, with decaf options on a separate grinder. It also has two more grinders for the guest coffees, one as a V60 filter and the other as a cafetiere. I’d have loved to have tried either, but it was the end of a long day on the Coffee Spot tour and I was already rather over-caffeinated.

Instead I had to make do with an espresso and a decaf flat white. The espresso was commendably short and came in a classic white cup on a correctly proportioned saucer. I know, I am pleased by such little things. It was also lovely, if a little too fruity for me. If there is one complaint I have about the modern trend in extracting the subtle flavours from coffee, it’s that the old-fashioned, unsubtle espresso of the sort that I favour (you know the type, the one that hits you square between the eyes and shouts “wake up!” at you) seems to be becoming increasingly rare.

The flat white was pretty impressive too. Freemans is in the large espresso cup school of flat white making and the result was lovely, with the coffee coming strongly through the milk. While on the subject, Freemans’ website is worth a visit, with what might be the best (concise) description of the various methods of making coffee I’ve seen. Or at least it was, but sadly the description’s gone missing since the website was redone (thanks to Duncan for spotting that).

Freemans bakes its flapjacks and scones on the premises, with cakes from Lovecrumbs, who I’ve heard excellent things about. I plumped for a banana, peanut butter and chocolate flapjack and it might have been the best decision of the whole trip.  Flapjacks are often disappointing, partly because they are so easy to get wrong (trust me, I’ve done it myself many times). But this one was divine; not too sweet, not too crumbly, but not too sticky either and a delightful combination of flavours.

To round off my visit, I had a chat with Ben, the architect-turned-Barista, who, along with his lovely colleagues, are a large part of what makes Freemans such a wonderful place.

2-6 SPOTTISWOODE ROAD • EDINBURGH • EH9 1BQ +44 (0) 131 446 0576
Monday 09:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Sofas, Comfy Chairs, Tables Outside
Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Cakes
Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Thursday 09:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Visa, Mastercard (£5 minimum)
Friday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free with code
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Mobile 3G, Voice
Chain No Visits 11th December 2012

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