The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh

25 October 2008

A brooding, voodoo, totem-poled coffee shop. The antithesis of The Elephant House, but just as renowned and equally nice.

The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh

One of my sisters visited The Black Medicine Coffee Co. earlier in the year and found a £10 note on the floor, which paid for two breakfasts.  A bit disappointed I was that this isn’t a regular feature (I looked everywhere but not even a penny).

The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh

My girlfriend and I sat on a tree-trunk-like bench, which was comfortable my end but not so much at her’s. We sat nattering in our little corner for ages (well over an hour), happily sheltered from the Edinburgh rain. Probably the longest I’ve stayed in one coffee shop.

The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh

I had a couple of coffees which were both very good, and also tried a delicious brownie and an equally nibblesome scone.

The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh

I understand this is another place with tenuous J K Rowling connections; apparently she used to write Harry Potter in the premises above, before it became a chinese buffet.  I’m sure if Black Medicine had been around back then, she would have been a regular on the ground floor.

It’s quite dark, in an appropriately cosy sort of way.  They mis-spell “cappucino” on the board.  Yes, I’m a pedant, but the background music is excellent so they’re forgiven.

This is one of the best and most characterful coffee shops in this blog.  Highly recommended for anyone living in / visiting Edinburgh.

The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Edinburgh

2 Nicolson Street


We visited on 25 October 2008.

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  • William Chandler 16 February 2009 at 12:23 am

    Had a very small, mediocre coffee to go, saw a friend and chatted for 3 minutes and was rudely told by a member of staff that take aways were not allowed in the cafe. Wanted to support a non-franchise coffee shop but with an attitude like this, why bother!

  • Jenny Smith 18 October 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Horrible place. Worst staff I’ve ever come across. Ambiance can’t save this business from being impersonal and rude.

    • Gud Öircle 9 May 2014 at 10:32 am

      I feel like this sometimes in some shops, cafes and bars – but you need to realise that people have the right to feel upset, miserable and behave like assh**** if they want.

      Think about how you were feeling that day or when you wrote this review, I think you were not feeling very happy with yourself, hence why it effected you that people weren’t matching your expectations on what is good and bad.

      Spock never got upset by the way humans behaved, he just excepted everything as it was.

      • Cosy Coffee Shops 9 May 2014 at 11:30 am

        Hi Gud, thanks for your thoughts. I presume you’re referring to some of the other comments, above, rather than our review – we thought Black Medicine was great! Tom

  • joanne 21 February 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I love this place! The coffee is the best in the city! I have been living here only 9 months and I am never out of this place. You can’t sit and read/look out the window at passer-byers. The decor is very nice. Music is great. I’m sometimes on the verge of asking them to make me a play list! Admittedly I will say that sometimes the staff seem rude, but that is only because it is a very busy place and they are just in a rush to get things done. They staff are definitely a bunch of chaaracters nonetheless, who no doubt make Black Medicine what it is today!
    You go there for coffee, and sit and relax/chat/read/go on your laptop, and noone will bother you.
    Also their hot chocolate is amazing!

  • CRed 18 February 2011 at 2:37 pm

    All I can say is, haters will always hate. Great coffee, good music and lovely soup. Every beverage is served with a punch that is unique to BlackMedCoffeeCo. Come drop by the cafe and see the place for yourself. The venue is full of character and indie in every sense. If you want customer service with an engraved corporate smile and coffee flavoured milk, go to your local starbucks. BlackMedCoffeeCo is not for the faint hearted. Expect a constant crowd with good music and a kick in your coffee.

  • Biggus Nickus 10 May 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I agree with all of the above comments, both positive and negative. There are rude staff sometimes, but sometimes not, that’s human nature. The smoothies are easily the best I’ve had in Edinburgh and the coffee is fine, coming, as I understand it, from the Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Company. Very nice coffee. Although the baristas might not have the experience or charm of some other ‘high end’ establishments, the atmosphere and prices make up for this.

  • Biggus Nickus 10 May 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Their branch across town on Barclay Terrace is very good too, free wifi and student discount. This place deserves more attention and the staff there are actually very nice.

  • Jack Campin 9 May 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Nasty thuddy music too loud for you to talk or think. No need for it in place that’s always near-empty. Never again.

  • AJC 19 June 2014 at 12:21 am

    Their coffee has become awful, and their interior can get VERY packed with students. Seats (more like benches and stools) are made out of logs and uncomfortable if you’re cramped and sharing tables. I used to live right above it so I can judge. For MUCH better alternatives, check out for guides! Kilimanjaro, Artisan Roast, Brew Lab etc. . . . . go anywhere but Black Medicine!