Hideout Coffee

Head Barista, Jordan, talks with regular customer, David, at Hideout Coffee.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.

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Hunter Gatherer Coffee

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Hunter Gatherer in Southsea.For a long time, speciality coffee in Portsmouth and Southsea was left to the pioneering few, including Canvas Coffee (Portsmouth) and Southsea Coffee Co (Southsea). Recently, however, this has changed, with several number, including Hunter Gatherer Coffee on Southsea’s Albert Road, entering the fray.

The labour of love of a fellow Brian, Hunter Gatherer was many years in the making. In an example of the supportive nature of the local coffee community, when Brian first had the idea for Hunter Gatherer, he knew he didn’t have the coffee know-how, so Canvas Coffee gave him a job, allowing him to gain the necessary skills. After two years at Canvas, Brian found the right location, Hunter Gatherer opening in September 2016.

Serving a house-blend from West Sussex’s Craft House Coffee, Hunter Gatherer also does pour-over, with one option from Craft House and another from a guest roaster, served through either V60 or Aeropress. There is also a brunch menu, now totally vegetarian/vegan, which is available until 3 pm each day. This seems surprising, given Hunter Gatherer’s small size, but appearances can be deceptive. It goes a long way back, with a large, basement-like rear section housing additional seating and the kitchen.

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Canvas Coffee

A lovely piccolo, made with The Roasting Party's Drake Blend, and served in a glass on a red saucer at Canvas Coffee in Portsmouth.As anyone who travels by train in the UK knows, good coffee is hard to come by. Every now and then, a coffee stand, such as The Flying Coffee Bean in my home town of Guildford, or Glasgow’s Luckie Beans, provides welcome relief, but a proper, sit-down speciality coffee shop is a rare find. This makes Canvas Coffee, located in the old station buffet on the concourse of Portsmouth and Southsea station, such a delight.

Since opening in a small kiosk across the concourse in March 2014, Canvas has gone from strength-to-strength, moving into the vacant station buffet six months later and slowly growing to occupy the entire space. In many ways, it’s a typical station coffee shop, with commuters calling in for their morning coffee on the way to the train or office, while a steady stream of people and their luggage kill time before their trains.

However, it’s more than that. With the Drake Blend from Winchester’s The Roasting Party served from a concise espresso-based menu, backed up with a range of options for lunch, plus cake throughout the day, it’s a destination in its own right, a large, spacious coffee shop that would grace any city.

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Southsea Coffee Co

The Southsea Coffee Co logo.Southsea Coffee Co is one of those places which you catch sight of from across the street and think “I’m going to enjoy this”. I was actually looking for it, having wanted to visit since it first opened eight weeks ago, but I suspect that had I just been walking down the street, I would have crossed over and gone in.

Wife-and-husband team, Tara and Martyn, have put a lot of thought and effort into their new coffee shop and it shows. The layout and decor is wonderful, the atmosphere perfect, the staff warm and friendly and, to cap it all, the coffee’s great! It’s not huge, but feels spacious and uncluttered, helped by the tall ceilings. However, it’s going to get even bigger over the summer when the back yard, which is currently undergoing renovation, is opened to the public.

Southsea Coffee Co quite rightly makes a big thing about its local links, with milk from nearby Hayling Island and bread from West Wittering’s Bread a la Mer. As much as possible, it’s about supporting other local, independent businesses. In fact, the least local element is probably the coffee, which comes all the way from Has Bean in Staffordshire!

January 2018: I’ve finally made it back to Southsea Coffee Co. These days, Southsea uses London’s Campbell & Syme on espresso with various roasters appearing on the pour-over menu. There’s also excellent breakfast (until 11:30), lunch (11:30 to 15:30) and all-day (until 15:30) menus, but other than the back garden having opened, very little has changed. Most important of all, it still has the same warm, welcoming atmosphere.

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