Hideout Coffee is, quite literally, Portsmouth’s best kept secret when it comes to coffee. Right in the city centre, a few minutes’ walk away from Canvas Coffee, it’s tucked away down a side street with no external advertising, not even a name. You really do have to know it’s there. And that’s how Hideout likes it, giving it a speakeasy-like atmosphere, like you’re in a secret, members’ only club.
Hideout opened in the summer of 2017, effectively the in-house coffee shop for design agency I Love Dust, whose offices are above Hideout. Indeed, to get to I Love Dust, you go through Hideout first, which is in the small entrance lobby to offices. There’s room for just 10 seats, the coffee coming from a La Marzocco Linea tended by head barista, Jordan, who serves a standard espresso-based menu using a bespoke house-blend from Coffee@33, just along the coast in Brighton.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Hideout Coffee is on Alec Rose Lane, a narrow side street off Guildhall Walk and, ironically, slap bang on top of a branch of Starbucks. Indeed, the best way of finding Hideout is to head for the Starbucks and then nip down the alley, where you’ll find an unremarkable pair of blue double doors. Behind these, there’s a small entrance lobby, at the back of which is a single, arched door, where you’ll find your first clue: the name Hideout etched into the door’s beautifully-decorated glass panel.
It’s through this door that you’ll find Hideout, although at first glance, it’s still not obvious that it’s a coffee shop. To the left and right, arches give access to two rows of reclaimed Polish cinema seats, four per side, with coffee tables made from tree trunks. The arches flank a short, central corridor and it’s only when you get to the back that you’ll find the counter, tucked away to the left. There’s just enough room for the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine and its grinder, while out front are a pair of stools if you want to sit and chat with Jordan.
And that’s pretty much it. Off to the right, another beautifully-decorated glass door leads to another lobby which doubles as both a bike-storage area and a cinema/TV room. From here, you have access to the stairs and the offices above.
The whole effect is delightful, creating a small, intimate space which itself consists of several smaller, intimate spaces. There’s a subdued, relaxed atmosphere throughout, the lack of natural light contributing to the intimate feel. Want to sit at the counter and chat with Jordan? He’d love to have your company. Want to grab one of the cinema seats and get on with some work? No problem. Fancy watching something on the TV? That’s fine too, as is using Hideout for an informal meeting.
In fact, Hideout can be whatever you want it to be, something that Jordan’s keen to encourage. One of Hideout’s most interesting features is that the concise (to the point of being terse) coffee menu has no prices. Hideout operates an honesty system: just pay what you feel is the right, dropping your cash (no cards) in a jar at the end of the counter. That way, Jordan argues, people can also pay what they can afford, a really interesting move.
When it comes to coffee, there’s a bespoke espresso blend from Coffee@33, 50% Colombian, 25% Guatemalan, 25% Ethiopian, with occasional guest roasters on a second grinder. There’s also the odd random bag of “something interesting” that Coffee@33 sends through every now and then, but you have to know to ask Jordan about these. Finally, there are pastries from local bakers, Bread Addiction, but only on a Friday.
I tried the house blend as an espresso, a lovely, balanced coffee, but with a real and unexpected punch to it that caught me off guard. A suitably unusual coffee for an unusual coffee shop.
|ORIEL HOUSE • ALEC ROSE LANE • PORTSMOUTH • PO1 2SA|
|www.facebook.com/thehideoutcoffeestore||+44 (0)23 9285 1242|
|Monday||08:30 – 13:00||Roaster||Coffee At 33 (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 13:00||Seating||Cinema Seats, Stools at Counter|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 13:00||Food||Pastries (Friday only)|
|Thursday||08:30 – 13:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||08:30 – 13:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Chain||No||Visits||3rd January 2018|
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