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.
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|
|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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