Love Coffee but Want to Avoid Starbucks? 6 Independent Edinburgh Coffee Shops.

Love Coffee but Want to Avoid Starbucks? 6 Independent Edinburgh Coffee Shops.

You’ve travelled hundreds of miles to get to Edinburgh – new city, new culture, new experiences. Yet some things stay the same, no matter how many hours you spend on a plane. Starbucks, for example. So here are few recommendations to help you explore the ever-expanding range of independent coffee shops Edinburgh has to offer. Flat white, anyone?

West End

Social Bite, 89 Shandwick Place

Coffee with a conscience! This cafe is run by a charity, which means 100% of the profits go towards helping homeless people in Edinburgh. A great choice for a takeaway coffee before class at Inlingua. 

Cairngorm Coffee, 1 Melville Street

Named after a mountain range in the Eastern Highands of Scotland, this coffee shop has a rustic design and free wifi.


City Centre

Coro, 13 Fredrick Street

You won’t find much coffee here – this chocolate cafe is a must-visit place for people with a sweet tooth! They serve every kind of chocolate you can imagine in drinks, as desserts, over waffles, as ice cream…

Eteaket, 41 Federick Street

Ok, another recommendation with not much coffee, but I had to mention a cafe specialising in tea! The extensive menu also includes afternoon tea with scones, jam and cream for a true British experience.

Royal Mile

Mimi’s Little Bakehouse, 250 Canongate

This tiny cafe offers a selection of delicious cakes to have with your coffee.


Tabletop cafe, 244 Canongate

If you get caught in the rain, this cafe is the perfect place to wait for the storm to pass. They have many board games you can play while you enjoy your coffee.

Volunteering in a charity shop:  good for your English, your CV and your community.

Volunteering in a charity shop: good for your English, your CV and your community.

Are you looking for more ‘real-life’ opportunities to speak English? Want to meet more native speakers? Trying to apply for a job but don’t have any experience of working in the UK? Then read on…


First of all, what is a charity shop?

A charity is a non-profit organisation that raises money and awareness for different causes, such as research for a disease, or animal welfare, or the protection of vulnerable people. Charity shops are shops where people can donate clothes or household objects they don’t want, and the charity then sells them to the public. (You can find some great bargains!) All money raised in charity shops helps support the charity’s cause.

Where can I find these charity shops?

All over Edinburgh! There is even one opposite Inlingua (The British Heart Foundation). It would be best to find one in a location that’s convenient for you, like close to your accommodation.

What sort of work would I have to do?

There are many different tasks you can do in a charity shop, such as: operating the till; sorting the donations; organising the shop; and creating the displays. There is lots of variety in the shift and plenty of people to talk to, so you won’t get bored!

How often would I have to work?

Volunteering is flexible so you can often choose your hours to fit around your schedule. Typically shops will ask you to work once or twice a week, for 2-4 hours at a time. It’s best if you are staying in Edinburgh long term (4 weeks or more), so you can become a regular part of the team.

Do I need to be eligible to work in the UK?

No! As it is voluntary work, anyone can do it.

Volunteering means working for free, right?

It does – you won’t get paid for working in a charity shop. However there are many other benefits you can get from this experience, such as:

  • Improving your English through contact with native speakers
  • The chance to learn some new skills
  • Experience working in the UK (volunteering looks great on your CV!)
  • The knowledge that you are helping a good cause

Count me in! How do I start?

First, choose the shop you want to work in, preferably near to your accommodation or Inlingua. Go in and tell the manager you are interested in volunteering – he/she will give you a form to fill out. Once you have completed the form, take it back to the shop and the manager will arrange an induction with you to show you how everything works.

Happy volunteering!