19 April 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Intermission Coffee

Intermission Coffee is a great name for a coffee shop that opened during the coronavirus pandemic: who among us hasn't felt, at some point, as though the whole of the last year has been an extended intermission while we wait to get our lives back? 

The West Hampstead coffee bar opened last August, and it came heartily recommended by my friends at Saint Nine. But West Hampstead is a bit of a jaunt from Bermondsey and then London went back into lockdown, so it's taken me a little while to visit. I picked a great day for it, though, as the sun was shining as I stepped out of the Tube and crossed the road into the open courtyard of Heritage Lane. There are a couple of other shops and some public benches, but Intermission has its own yellow-accented outdoor seating too.

Green features prominently in the design, from the shopfront to the ridged counter and the espresso machine, as well as the plants. The coffee shop is small — and at the moment, only two customers are allowed in at a time to facilitate physical distancing — but there's a long bench along the wall facing the counter, for drinking-in on less clement days, when indoor hospitality is possible again.

The barista saw me scanning both the coffee profiles on the counter and the pink coffee menu on the wall and asked if I was after something espresso-based or a filter coffee. As it turned out, I was in the market for both. They roast their own coffee using Raw Material beans, and give an additional 5p per coffee sold back to coffee farmers. Sustainability is really important at Intermission, including in terms of taking steps to ensure fair payment and fair treatment of all of the many people involved at every stage of the coffee supply chain.

During my visit, there was a house-roasted Lost Days coffee from Oaxaca, Mexico, in the hopper for espresso-based drinks, and a guest coffee produced by Edin Cadano in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, and roasted by Margate-based Curve Coffee Roasters. I ordered a piccolo with the Lost Days coffee, and a batch-brew filter with the Guatemalan Los Nisperos, and chatted with the friendly baristas while they made my drink. There was also a varied selection of pastries and sweet treats, including some vegan options. I opted for a slice of pistachio and cherry loaf cake, which was really tasty, the tartness of the cherry contrasting well with the pistachio.

One of the tables became free so I was able to enjoy my coffee in the glorious sunshine. They were both very well brewed: the piccolo was smooth and sweet, while the filter coffee had chocolate and raisin flavour notes. I also liked the cute design on the cups, which also features on the Intermission tote bags that are available to buy.

At Intermission, you can also stock up on Curve coffee beans, Colonna pods and Mörk chocolate. And their philosophy is great: life is busy, but never too busy for a brief intermission, especially one that involves excellent coffee.

Intermission Coffee. Unit 2, The Hardy Building, Heritage Lane, West Hampstead, London, NW6 2BR (Tube: West Hampstead). Website. Instagram.

For 130+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my London speciality coffee guide.

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