Blink and you might miss it could be a good description of Wellington Coffee, which has been serving excellent coffee to the good folks of Edinburgh from the corner of Hanover and George Streets since 2008. It’s located down some steps in a basement and if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you could easily walk right past, which would be a shame.
It’s not big, although it squeezes the seats in: I reckon it could hold 20 at a push, which is surprising, given its size, and there’s room for more outside. The end result is a surprisingly pleasant, intimate place, which, while not built for lingering all day, is nevertheless great for an unhurried coffee and cake. While I was there, there was a steady stream of visitors, with the vast majority sitting in rather than coming for takeaway. Clearly, the place has its charm.
Wellington really is all about the coffee though. There’s none of the accessories of your modern coffee shop: no power, no wifi, no fancy brewing methods; just an espresso machine, three grinders (for the regular, guest and decaf beans) and a limited range of excellent cake.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I’ve been aware of Wellington Coffee for a long time, having visited it not long after it opened. Even then, I was struck by its dedication to coffee. Mind you, in such a small space, you can’t really afford to diversify, and if you’re a coffee shop, you may as well dedicate yourself to the coffee. Otherwise, why are you bothering?
Wellington Coffee is small, but beautifully appointed. Down the steps from George Street, you enter a low-ceilinged, wood-panelled room dominated by the Synesso espresso machine and its three grinders. There’s a couple of cosy bars with stools in the windows, two more bars down each side and a pair of tables with bar stools and bench opposite the espresso machine. At a push it might seat 20, which is an impressive use of the space. Outside, in what might be best described as a basement patio, are four tables for those willing to brave the elements.
Wellington Coffee is part of the same stable that brings you Bruntsfield’s Project Coffee, Buccleuch Street’s Press Coffee and the excellent Kilimanjaro, but apart from the same ownership and beans (from London’s Square Mile), each is very much its own place. Despite the name, Wellington does not have Kiwi roots; the owner hails from the far-flung reaches of… Glasgow!
Although all four shops are about great coffee, of the four, Wellington is the one that really is all about the coffee. While I was there it was serving Red Brick as the main espresso, with Sweet Shop as the guest and El Paraiso for the decaf, each with its own grinder. When I started the Coffee Spot less than six months ago, I was impressed when somewhere had two or three grinders: now I’m starting to take it for granted!
You know that Wellington is serious about its coffee when your espresso comes with a glass of tap water without having to ask. All the drinks are served in classic black china cups which look lovely and are incredibly hard to photograph well. Despite this minor setback, I wholeheartedly approve.
Having had the Red Brick in a flat white the day before at Kilimanjaro, I decided to give the Sweet Shop a go. Let’s just say that Sweet Shop lives up to its name and that it’s not my cup of tea. Or, indeed, my kind of espresso. There was nothing wrong with it: it was delightfully short, with a great crema, but while I have had sweet espressos before that I liked, this was not one of them. Rather than hints of sweet, this one was sweet all the way through and it was too much for me.
I also tried the El Paraiso decaf (I was pacing myself) as a flat white. As was the case with Kilimanjaro, it came in a large espresso cup and, as with Kilimanjaro, I could taste the coffee through the milk, which is always a good sign. This too had hints of something, but rather than overwhelming me, it nicely complimented the milk, resulting in a very fine flat white.
Naturally I sampled the cake, plumping for a very fine (and large) round of shortbread, but could also have had a brownie, two types of scone (served with clotted cream and jam if you want) and a tiffin.
|70 HANOVER ST (CORNER OF GEORGE ST) • EDINBURGH • EH2 1EL|
|+44 (0) 131 225 6854|
|Monday||07:30 – 18:00||Seating||Bar, Tables, Tables Outside|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 18:00||Food||Cakes|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||07:30 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||07:30 – 18:00||Wifi||No|
|Saturday||08:30 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||09:30 – 18:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||Local||Visits||12th December 2012|
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the scones are good too:-)
They looked lovely. In retrospect, I wish I’d had one. Ahh, well, there’s always next time 🙂
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