Five Edinburgh Cafés With A Conscience


Lauren Ritchie has been out visiting Edinburgh social enterprise cafés for #SocEntSummer and here's her top five recommendations - check out pictures of Lauren and some of the people she met on Instagram

25th July 2016 by Lauren Ritchie 2 Comments

1. Out of the Blue, Leith

1. Out of the Blue, Leith

Coming across this café tucked away in on residential Dalmeny Street in Leith is certainly Out of the Blue. The bright and airy space is the perfect place to enjoy a rich, fair-trade coffee, tasty homemade cake and local art. The old army Drill Hall is not only full of community spirit, but also full of exciting paintings and sculptures by up and coming artists. The café acts as a community centre for the area, holding many art and film events for young and old to enjoy and as if this wasn’t enough, it helps the community by offering people a voluntary training scheme; providing opportunities for artists to develop employable skills and meet people.


2. Breadshare, Joppa

2. Breadshare, Joppa

“Real bread for everyone” is the ethos of Breadshare. Its vegetarian, organic and healthy bread has taken Edinburgh by storm and is inspiring people with its affordable, wholesome way of baking. You won’t find bread like this in any supermarket; it strips it back to natural ingredient, using only flour, water and salt. The café has just recently opened in Joppa and you can enjoy an array of treats and hot drinks such as an organic, dark hot chocolate, a crisp, olive focaccia or a traditional bran scone. The cafe has many volunteers and works with local schools, teaching kids how to bake. Breadshare is connected to many other social enterprises and has a guest bakers and jam makers getting involved every week.


3. Forest Cafe, Tollcross

3. Forest Cafe, Tollcross

For a café with a difference, visit the Bohemian Forest Café. The alternative café prides itself in not existing for profit and is run by friendly volunteers. It believes that art should be accessible to all, and the café holds events, such as acoustic sessions, poetry recitals and theatre. Sit at one of the brightly painted tables and enjoy vegetarian lunches, organic cakes and take a spin on the tea wheel and land on one of their many herbal, fruity teas. The café has a very laidback atmosphere, so much so, that there is a free shop where you can take any donated item that you like. The Forest also encourages kindness with its pre-paid coffee scheme where you can buy or receive a coffee from a stranger.


4. The Grassmarket Café

4. The Grassmarket Café

In the hustle and bustle of the Grassmarket lies the Grassmarket Café. You can enjoy a local Brodie’s coffee in its wonderfully calm garden terrace in the middle of the busy streets. There is a wide arrange of locally bought cakes, muffins and tiffins available. The café encourages vulnerable adults to volunteer and gives them the opportunity to reconnect with society and move into employment. Its friendly atmosphere and support gives them the confidence and feeling of self-worth they need. The centre holds foodbanks every Tuesday and Friday and a free drop-in community meal each Monday. There is also a community cinema which shows free films every week.


5. The Whitehouse Kitchen, Craigmiller

5. The Whitehouse Kitchen, Craigmiller

Experience Craigmillar’s past and future in one café. Enter the vintage Whitehouse Kitchen building through a doorway full of colourful posters of exiting floorplans for Craigmillar’s development and then enter the bright, white café, which is surrounded by old photos of Craigmillar’s fascinating past and community. The pretty café is a breath of fresh air in the area and provides high quality, homemade food; from smoking their own salmon and to baking their own creamy cheesecakes. Round the back of the café is a garden where The Whitehouse grows all its fresh ingredients. The café is run by the community and has helped many local people gain work experience and move into employment. The café also has its Red Room where it holds social events such tea dances for the elderly, gigs for young people and a music and theatre group called Startroopers for children.


Did we miss you?

Look out for our up and coming Cafés with a Conscience Glasgow list, as well as a best of the rest list, which will highlight some of the cool cafés outside of Scotland’s two biggest cities later in the summer.

If you’re an Edinburgh social enterprie cafe and you’re disappointed you didn’t make the list, why not send us a picture and a 100 word review of your cafe. Or if that’s too much, post pictures on social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) using #SocEntSummer and see if you get a mention in our weekly Best #SocEntSummer Social Media Posts, which will be published in print TFN.

TFN’s Social Enterprise Summer campaign is running throughout July and August - follow #SocEntSummer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see how you can get involved.


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28th July 2016 by Anne Martin

On a similar note there is serenity cafe which is a fab cafe and space for people in recovery from a variety of addictions. cafe on the corner on Hill street is also good. The cafe is run by Number6 an organisation that supports people affected by Autism.

10th August 2016 by No Dress Rehearsals

Bread share pay their staff significantly under the minimum wage, not a good business to give your money to. The owners are getting wealthy while staff are fighting homelessness and hunger. Friend's bro worked there. Long hours, low pay, very difficult bosses.