Friday 10 August 2018

Thomas J Walls Coffee

35 Forrest Rd
Open every day
Espresso, ice americano, ice latte
Coffee: Squaremile
Also: Meals, cakes, beans
Coolness: Stylish nostalgia meets all day brunches

Thomas J Walls Coffee (5♥) is a large, elegant coffee shop located on the South side of Edinburgh's busy Old Town, near the National Museum of Scotland.

Owner Jonathan Sharpe has a number of other shops in Edinburgh and offers consistently high quality espresso-based coffee from long-time supplier London's Squaremile. The house bean is generally their Red Brick seasonal espresso, a particular favourite of ours, and guest beans are often available.

The site used to be an optician's shop and many a local, and their parents (and probably their grandparents) has had their eyes tested and glasses fitted here. The transformation to coffee shop has been sympathetic to these origins, preserving the original frontage, complete with the brass company name lettering and display windows. Look out for the shop logo that also smartly blends spectacles and coffee cup.

Visitors will be rewarded not just with lovely coffee, but also good food. Brunches are a main staple, well-suited to the relaxed and spacious surrounds. Options include rosti with spinach, smoked salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise, shakshuka, yoghurt & granola and the ever-present avocado on toast among others. Freshly made juices, soups, sandwiches and cakes are also on the menu.

There are plenty of tables and chairs in the front part of the shop and more to the rear, along with some softer seating by way of arm chairs and a sofa. The decor is simple and stylish and when combined with some very nice paintings, high ceilings and old world touches, adds up to a classy feel. Big thumbs up from us.


  1. While the coffee is tasty and I am sure the food is as good as you describe, they have neither plugs nor wifi. Small wonder there are mostly empty seats in the place, they make it impossible to do any work! Were it small and turnover consequently important I could understand the push for people to move along, but the place is huge, and empty. With BrewLab a two minute walk away and other coffee not far, Thomas J. Walls will need to seriously rethink their setup in order to compete.

    1. The lack of wifi is a welcome reprieve from the plentiful cafés, libraries and university buildings in the neighbourhood that are filled with students working on computers. The ambiance is therefore excellent, sociable, humane. And as for competition - which should not be every cafés modus operandi - Walls is always full when I go there. If you want to do work, please go somewhere else and leave those of us who want an unplugged experience in peace!

  2. If it's as quiet as you say, I might consider making it my new reading place. I like Brew Lab but last time I went there the music was louder than a pub. I'm not that bothered by the lack of Wifi, nevermind sockets. Would you g happen to know the opening times? I can find very few information about this place on Google. Thanks for your post. :-)

  3. I agree that the unplugged aspect adds to the appeal but unfortunately the music is loud and unsuited to the vibe. They could cement their brand with calming music to fit the surrounds - laid back jazz/string quartet etc.