Kiss the Hippo, Richmond

The Kiss the Hippo logo, an orange hippopotamus in silhouette.In true Coffee Spot fashion, I have visited Kiss the Hippo’s (currently two) locations in reverse order, starting with the Fitzrovia coffee shop in October last year before visiting this, the original coffee shop/roastery in Richmond. Kiss the Hippo, perhaps the UK’s most unusually-named coffee business, opened its first coffee shop in 2018. Occupying the first two floors of a three-storey building in the heart of Richmond, the spacious and bright ground floor contains the counter, laptop-free seating and, right at the back, the roastery. The smaller upstairs is more welcoming to laptop users and, as well as additional seating, contains a training room and a small library.

All the coffee is roasted on the Loring S15 Falcon at the back of the store, with the seasonal George Street house-blend joined by a single-origin and decaf on espresso, while there are two more single-origins on pour-over via the Kalita Wave. If you’re hungry, there’s brunch until 3 pm (4 pm on Fridays and the weekend), plus cake throughout the day. Naturally, all the coffee’s available to purchase in retail bags, along with a selection of coffee-making equipment and merchandising. Note that Kiss the Hippo is cashless, so bring your cards!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On the north side of George Street in Richmond stands a three-storey building...
  • ... home to the original Kiss the Hippo, which opened in 2018. Let's go in.
  • Here's the view from inside the door, with Kiss the Hippo disappearing into the distance.
  • And here's the view if you turn around, looking towards the front of the shop.
  • There's very little seating up front, just two window-bars, one either side of the door...
  • ... and this table on the right, which is followed by the retail shelves.
  • These continue, along with the water station, right up to the stairs.
  • The counter, meanwhile, is on the left. opposite the stairs/retail shelves.
  • The bulk of the seating is at the back, beyond the counter...
  • ... starting with this two-person table projecting from the wall.
  • The rest of the seating is in the middle and on the left-hand side...
  • There's a large, eight-person communal table in the centre, under a skylight...
  • ... with more seating over to the left, past the stairs to the basement (sadly staff only).
  • There are three tables at the end nearest the counter on the left...
  • ... with four more in a line towards the back.
  • Then, right at the back, behind a glass wall, is the Kiss the Hippo roastery...
  • ... although there's an overspill storage area for green beans to the right.
  • Downstairs, by the way, is a laptop-free zone, so if you want to use your laptop...
  • ... you need to head upstairs.
  • As we've seen, the stairs are in the middle of the shop, opposite the counter.
  • It's not quite a spiral staircase, but the stairs do double back on themselves...
  • ... before taking another 90 degree turn at the top...
  • ... to lead you to this broad landing at the back of the first floor.
  • There's a library opposite the stairs. All the books are for sale, proceeds to charity.
  • An opening in the front wall leads to a bright room at the front of Kiss the Hippo...
  • ... which has plenty more seating.
  • A row of window-bars line the first three windows at the front of Kiss the Hippo.
  • Each one has a power outlet and offers...
  • ... a view across George Street.
  • Kiss the Hippo runs the full width of the building, with a training lab off at the far end.
  • A view of the upstairs seating looking the other way.
  • As well as the two-person table in the middle of the room, there are two more against...
  • ... the back wall and another three along this bench on your left as you enter.
  • Time to go back downstairs, with a view of the counter on the way down.
  • However, before we get down to business, don't forget to check out the retail shelves...
  • ... at the bottom of the stairs, opposite the counter. As well as various coffee-related kit...
  • ... there are retail bags of coffee, including this rare Al-Lahaba from Yemen...
  • ... and the other pour-over choice during my visit, the Las Flores from Honduras.
  • There's also a water station with a couple of books for sale on the shelf above.
  • Right, to business. You order (and collect) your coffee from the counter on the left...
  • ... while there's a grab-and-go fridge just in front of the counter.
  • If you want something sweet, the cakes are displayed at the front of the counter...
  • ... with more goodies by the till...
  • ... while even the till itself is getting in on the act!
  • There's a breakfast and lunch menu next to the till...
  • ... which you'll also find on all the tables...
  • ... while the drinks menu is on the wall behind the counter.
  • Pride of place goes to the Kees van der Westen espresso machine and its two grinders...
  • ... but for once I turned down its charms for a pour-over, which is at the counter's far end.
  • This is actually a sample of a triple-fermented Colombian Geisha that the barista made.
  • Here's my coffee, the Las Flores, a washed coffee from Honduras...
  • ... served in a glass Kinto cup, presented on a wooden tray, complete with tasting notes.
  • I paired it with an excellent apple crumble muffin, which is where I'll leave you.
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Kiss the Hippo occupies a prime spot on the north side of George Street. On the ground floor, the building is split in two, Kiss the Hippo occupying the right-hand side, where it goes a long way back. Upstairs, it runs the building’s full width, but only occupies the front half. Back at street level, central double doors are slightly recessed between two large, square windows, each with a two-person window-bar. However, other than a single, square table projecting from the right-hand wall, that’s it for seating at the front, the remaining space being occupied by the counter on the left and retail shelves/stairs on the right.

The counter is set back from the window, leaving room for a chiller cabinet with various grab-and-go items, including sandwiches, salads and juice. You order at the counter, with the till near the front, just past the cakes. Next come a pair of Mythos 1 grinders, the gorgeous Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine and then, at the far end, a pour-over area, where you collect your coffee.

Opposite the counter are various retail shelves followed by the stairs to the upper floor. There’s also a flight of stairs to the basement at the counter’s far end, but sadly it’s staff only. Beyond this is the bulk of the downstairs seating, with a second, solitary two-person table projecting from the right-hand wall. In the middle, under a large skylight which brings much-needed natural light to the back of Kiss the Hippo, is an eight-person communal table, while on the left, an L-shaped padded bench runs along the top of the stairs behind the counter and then down the left-hand wall. It has seven two-person tables, one in front of the stairs and six down the side.

Finally, separated from the rest of the coffee shop by a glass wall, is the roastery, although the right-hand part of the seating area is also being pressed into use as a green-bean store, such is the roastery’s success. Indeed, Kiss the Hippo is already considering relocating the roastery to a bigger, dedicated facility.

The stairs to the first floor turn back on themselves by 270°, ending in a broad landing overlooking the stairs at the back of the upstairs space. There’s a library opposite the stairs, beyond which an opening leads past the toilets to the right and into the seating area at the front. Kiss the Hippo spans the building’s full width, five tall windows overlooking George Street below.

Looking from the back, each of the first three windows has a two-person window-bar, while the last two are swallowed up by Kiss the Hippo’s training laboratory, which is behind another glass wall on the right-hand side of the first floor. There’s more seating at the back, with two two-person tables against the back wall, with a third in the middle of the room. Finally, a long, padded bench runs along the left-hand wall with a further three two-person tables.

Kiss the Hippo has one single-origin on espresso (currently a Lajas from Peru), plus two more (the Las Flores from Honduras and a rare Al-Lahaba from Yemen) on pour-over, the options changing every month or so. I had the Las Flores, served in a large, Unitea glass cup from Kinto, presented on a wooden tray, with a small card containing some tasting notes. A well-balanced, smooth coffee with plenty of body, it developed a pleasing sweetness as it cooled.

I paired this with an apple crumble muffin, a lovely, moist, rich muffin with large chunks of apple, the perfect accompaniment to my coffee. Before I left, I also had a sample of a triple-fermented Colombian Geisha, a rich, complex coffee. Look out for this one when it hits the menu!

50 GEORGE STREET • RICHMOND • TW9 1HJ
https://kissthehippo.com
Monday 07:00 – 17:30 Roaster Kiss the Hippo (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:30 Seating Tables, Window-Bars
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 17:30 Payment Cards only
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 08:30 – 17:30 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 11th February 2020

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  1. Pingback: Kiss the Hippo, Fitzrovia | Brian's Coffee Spot

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