Workflows & Processes

Edinburgh’s Best Work-Friendly Cafés for Small Businesses

Edinburgh's Best Work-Friendly Cafés for Small Businesses

(Last updated in March 2024)

Working from home has its perks. But it can be pretty isolating when your desk is only a few feet away from your bed. One solution is to set up shop in a café around the corner. If that’s something for you, here are a few of Edinburgh’s best work-friendly cafés for small businesses.

(Another solution is to get yourself and everybody you work with a desk in a shared office or co-working space. Have a look at these co-working spaces in Edinburgh or my own creative studio/shared office Co/Space, they’re ideal for small businesses!)

Why work from a café?

When I was still working from home, I loved surrounding myself with people every now and then. And even better: I still got lots of work done and felt less lonely. Networking events can only get you so far.

A local café is also a great place to meet clients or work with other freelancers on joint projects. And Edinburgh has a lot to offer when it comes to working remotely.

And here’s a list of Edinburgh’s best work-friendly cafés to get you started on your journey of remote working. All thoroughly tested by me, of course!

Please note: The cafés on this list are almost all small, local businesses that make their living by selling freshly prepared coffee and food. Please respect any restrictions they have in place for using laptops during busier times. And make sure to purchase plenty of drinks and/or food to make sure we can enjoy their spaces for years to come.

Levels Café & Lounge

levels logo

12 Holyrood Road, EH8 8AJ
Open: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun closed
Busy time: around 1pm – 2pm
Quiet time: morning, afternoon

This is a unique space when it comes to Edinburgh’s best work-friendly cafés: Levels Café & Lounge is part of Edinburgh University but is open to everyone.

They have several different areas: You can, for example, sit on a stool by the front window, lounge on their sofas and armchairs in the back or work on one of the many comfortable tables in the centre of the café.

They even have three work desks complete with desk lamps and extra sockets! The wifi is free, fast and has so far worked flawlessly.

Additionally, they have a good selection of locally sourced and seasonal food, drinks and fair trade coffee.


Red Kite Café

red kite cafe edinburgh

7-8 Cadzow Place, EH7 5SN
Open: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm; Sat-Sun 9am-6pm
Busy time: around lunch, weekends
Quiet time: morning, afternoon

My absolute favourite café in the Abbeyhill/London Road area: The Red Kite Café. Apart from their amazing coffee and tea collection, it’s a great place for lunch, some cake – and work.

They have stools by the window, large and smaller tables and the free wifi works well. It’s a lovely bright space and so far it has never been too busy to work.

Somehow they managed to create a large space that feels cosy without feeling cramped. It’s worth noting that they don’t allow laptops at the weekends, but it’s a great place to get some work done during the week. Definitely one of my favourites among Edinburgh’s best work-friendly cafés!


Lovecrumbs

lovecrumbs cafe edinburgh

155 West Port, EH3 9DP
Open: Wed-Mon 9am-6pm
Busy time: between 1pm – 3pm, weekends
Quiet time: morning

If you need cake to boost your workday, then you should consider working from Lovecrumbs. It’s a lovely little place in West Port with comfy seating.

(They also have cake. Far too many cakes for my own good. And then some more cake. And, did I mention the cake?)

With it being so close to uni and the Old Town, it can get quite busy but mornings are usually a good shout.

Their free wifi works well and their teas and coffees are delicious. (And, you know, cake.)


August_21 Coffee House

august 21

89 Causewayside, EH9 1QG
Open: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Wed 9.30am -9.30pm, Sun 10am – 4pm
Busy time: between 1pm – 3pm
Quiet time: morning

August_21 is a little café, tucked away in the Southside of Edinburgh. It’s not very big but at off-peak times it’s not a problem to get a seat.

They have free wifi, extra sockets and the food is awesome: pastries, baguettes, soups and other fresh dishes – there’s something for everyone.

Their drinks selection is great, too, but most of all it seems to be the staff that makes this place: They’re super friendly and certainly adding to the nice vibe of the café itself.


The Old Spence (formerly The Hideout Cafe)

40-42 Queen Charlotte Street, EH6 6AT
Open: Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm; Sat & Sun 9am-5pm
Busy time: lunchtime, Sundays
Quiet time: afternoon

If you’re down in Leith, The Old Spence is one of my favourite work-friendly cafés in Edinburgh. The cafe is light and airy thanks to the huge windows.

And it has a really cool, relaxed decor that makes you feel instantly at home. If you’re there for a meeting with clients, make it a breakfast meeting if you can – the brunch menu is great!

Whether you’re in for a quick coffee with a freelance friend or a productive laptop session on your own, you’ll always feel welcome at The Old Spence.


Cairngorm Coffee

castello coffee edinburgh

1 Melville Place, EH3 7PR
Open: Mon-Sun 8am – 5pm
Busy time: lunchtime
Quiet time: morning, afternoon

Cairngorm Coffee is another Edinburgh café with two branches. I’d recommend heading to the West End cafe which is the bigger and brighter of the two.

They do great coffee and snacks and there is a range of communal tables. You can grab a seat and not feel guilty about taking up a whole table all day! The wifi at Cairngorm is free and speedy, so it’s a great place to get some work done on your laptop.

If you just have a spare 10 minutes between meetings, they even have iPads! They’re built into some of the tables so you can quickly reply to some emails or browse the web. The Melville Street branch is the perfect work-friendly cafe in Edinburgh if you’re looking for a spot near the city centre.


Lowdown Coffee

lowdown coffee

40 George Street, EH2 2LE
Open: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm; Sun 10am-5.30pm
Busy time: lunchtime, afternoon
Quiet time: morning

As easy as it is to find cafés to work from in Edinburgh, the centre of town is a completely different matter. It’s often simply too crowded on weekdays to get proper work done.

But if you’re looking for work-friendly cafes in Edinburgh around George Street, I’d recommend checking out Lowdown Coffee. Even though they’re on the basement level, the café feels nice and bright.

And they even have some outdoor tables if you fancy getting some fresh air while you get your work done. Don’t forget to try one of their delicious cakes to help you power through your to-do list!


Oqo Coffee Nook

oqo logo

19 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF
Open: Mon-Sun 8am-6pm
Busy time: lunchtime, afternoon
Quiet time: morning

Oqo on Haddington Place is another one of the great work-friendly cafes in Edinburgh. Not only is it very Instagrammable (think velvet seating, dark walls, marble tables and gold cutlery), there are plenty of places to work from as well.

There are sockets around the cafe, so you don’t need to worry about your laptop running out of battery. Grab a spot of the sofa and enjoy a slice of cake as you get to work.

The staff are very friendly and won’t mind you working in the cafe all day – as long as you top up your coffee regularly!


Thomas J. Walls

thomas j walls

35 Forrest Road, EH1 2QT
Open: Mon-Fri 7.30am-7pm, Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8.30am-6pm
Busy time: lunchtime
Quiet time: morning, afternoon

With a slight hipster vibe, Thomas J. Walls is a beautiful cafe located inside a former Art Deco-style opticians. They’ve kept the same name and even some of the decor – look out for the spectacles!

With plenty of space and a buzzing atmosphere filled with chat and music at just the right volume, Thomas J. Walls is one of my favourite work-friendly cafes in Edinburgh.

If the tables at the front are all taken, head through the back where there’s lots more room to set up your laptop.


Coffee Saints

2a Little King Street, EH1 3AR
Open: Mon-Sat 8.30am-4.30pm, Sun 9am-4.30pm
Busy time: lunchtime
Quiet time: morning, afternoon

Coffee Saints is a fantastic social enterprise with a wide range of coffees, cold drinks, meals, light bites, cakes and pastries.

Located near the St James Quarter, the café is light and spacious and has outdoor seating available as well.

Even better, the café is run by the Grassmarket Community Project, a charity supporting some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable citizens. So all profit goes back to the cause – coffee with a conscience!


Machina Coffee – Marchmont

machina coffee Marchmont Edinburgh

3638 Marchmont Rd, EH9 1HX
Open: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-5pm
Busy time: lunchtime
Quiet time: morning, afternoon

Machina Coffee is not just an Edinburgh-based coffee roastery, they also have this lovely café and retail space in the heart of Marchmont.

They’re serving their own delicious coffee as well as breakfast, lunch and light bites with good vegan and vegetarian options.

Even better, on weekdays they have a designated area for laptop use in the no. 36 part of their cafe.


Black Medicine Coffee Co

2 Nicolson St, EH8 9DH
Open: Mon-Sun 7.30am-8pm
Busy time: lunchtime, afternoon
Quiet time: morning, late afternoon

Black Medicine Coffee Co is an Edinburgh institution. Opened in 1998, this independent café is a great, social space in the Old Town.

They’re all about “reduce, reuse and recycle” – keen on reducing their carbon footprint, one cup of coffee (or tea) at a time.

While space upstairs can be quite busy, especially due to their counter service, they have a large basement with lots of seating and quieter corners to work from.


KEEP READING

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
Edinburgh’s Best Co-Working Offices for Small Businesses
Should You Work from Home or Get an Office?
7 Networking Events & Clubs to Join in Edinburgh
Co/Space – My Creative Coworking Space in Edinburgh


Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.