21st September 2021

10 great places for coffee & cake

Coffee and cake stops are an absolutely essential element of any holiday. Jo has worked in hospitality and food for her whole career, so she knows a thing or two about what makes a good bake and the best coffee. Here are her top 10 recommendations for coffee shops with homebaking in the south-east of Scotland. The list covers Scottish Borders, Midlothian and East Lothian.

best coffee shop Scotland

1. Soutra, Midlothian

OK, so we have to declare a vested interest here..Jo actually runs this little coffee shop just a few miles north of Hillhouse. BUT, we genuinely think its spot in our top 10 best coffee shops list is justified! Soutra’s talented homebakers make everything onsite. You’ll find a huge selection of bakes available every day, including shortbread, traybakes, cakes, biscuits and scones. Soutra has over 300 baking recipes so you’ll never be short of something new to try. The coffee shop also caters for gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan customers.

Soutra is just off the A68 on the north side of Soutra Hill (on route to Edinburgh). There are fantastic views and a very warm welcome from Jo’s team.

2. Main Street Trading, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Simply wonderful. Main Street Trading in pretty St Boswells is a bookshop, coffee shop, deli and home shop, all in beautiful stone buildings.

The coffee shop serves perfect cakes and excellent coffee. All of the homebaking is made in Main Street’s kitchen and they have a huge emphasis on local ingredients. Our favourite cake is the Chocolate Guiness Cake. Gluten-free options available.

It’s best to call ahead to book your table.

3. Flat Cat Gallery, Lauder, Scottish Borders

We love whiling away an hour in Lauder’s Flat Cat Gallery. As well as being one of the best coffee shops in the area, you’ll find beautiful paintings (many by brilliant local artists), sculptures and also a little gift shop. Coffee is by local roastery Three Hills Coffee (see below!), and the homebaking is delicious.

Our favourite bake is the Oatie Biscuit – crumbly oaty biscuits sandwiched together with vanilla icing.

4. Drift, East Lothian

If you’re heading to the coast, don’t miss this innovative coffee shop in an up-cycled shipping container. Run by fellow-farmers Jo and Stuart McNicol, this dream cafe has the most amazing views from the East Lothian shoreline to the Bass Rock.

Sit-in if it’s a bit breezy, or get your coffee and cake from their take-away trailer. Choose from their homemade selection of soup and savoury options, cupcakes, traybakes, scones and treat boxes. What could be more perfect for a picnic on a coastal walk?

5. Three Hills Coffee, Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Absolute experts in coffee, this local roastery, Three Hills Coffee, is a coffee-lovers’ dream. A must visit if you are within striking distance of Selkirk!

The Three Hills team are exceptionally knowledgeable about their craft, and very friendly. Great cakes and scones. We particularly like the chocolate orange cake.

The coffee draws inspiration from the Scottish Borders landscape and, with coffee blends names including Eildon, Reiver and Old Ginger (named after a Dandie Dinmont Terriers which originate at nearby the Haining and loved by Sir Walter Scott).

Apples for Jam coffee shop in Earlston

6. Apples for Jam, Earlston and Melrose, Scottish Borders

Find Apples for Jam on the High Streets of Earlston and Melrose. These are gorgeous little places with interesting cakes and savoury options. Simple, modern and cosy interiors make these little coffee shops a haven after a morning’s walk or sightseeing.

7. Secret Herb Garden, Midlothian

The Secret Herb garden is a wonder. It’s 7 acres of pristine herb farm at the foot of The Pentland Hills, with a Café & Bistro in amongst it all. Baking draws on the produce of the fruit trees and herbs grown in their beautiful glasshouse all year round.

Visit for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, cakes, coffee and handmade teas made by the Secret Herb Garden. Well worth a visit!

8. Spotty Dog Deli, Lauder

Fabulous coffee and homemade cakes are available in Lauder’s amazing deli. It’s fair to say that we are regular customers! The chocolate-peanut-crunchie-bar is a definite favourite, and there is usually a gluten-free cake at the counter, plus scones and meringues.

While you are there, pick up some incredible cheese and oatcakes, wine, local beers and craft gins, snacks, speciality products (like oat milk, kombucha) and cooking ingredients.

9. Bird House Tea Room, Woodside Garden Centre, Ancrum, Scottish Borders

Set within a Victorian walled garden, with a little oasis of beautiful plants, you’ll find this quirky, cosy little tearoom with fantastic cakes and lunch options.

All of the food is homemade, and it all feels very authentically “little country tea room”. Ideal for the green-fingered, with a browse around the garden centre before or after.

10. Old Melrose Tea Room, near St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Quaint little tea room on the bank of the River Tweed. Traditional baking, tea and coffee – feels very much “off the beaten track”. Sit in a pretty little outdoor courtyard, inside or take-away.

While you are there, don’t miss the antiques shop which sprawls through several rooms in these old buildings. It’s a regular stop on BBC’s Antiques Road Trip! Gorgeous walks along the river start here too.

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