09 July 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Hagen, Mayfair

On Swallow Street, just off Regent Street's curving tail is a Danish-influenced haven of speciality coffee, Hagen Espresso Bar. The name calls back to Copenhagen, where the concept was born; both have roots in the Old Norse word hǫfn, which, appropriately enough, means 'haven'.

I first heard about Hagen when I came across their Chelsea espresso bar on the King's Road (there's a third shop in South Ken), but I'm rarely in that neighbourhood, especially during the hours of coffee. But while hunting coffee one quiet Sunday morning last summer, I followed the directions on an A-board into Swallow Street, a pedestrianised street lined with eateries, most of which now have extended covered outdoor seating, which you can see in the photo below. Hagen was ahead of the game, and even on that first visit, there were several comfortable seats and low tables placed in front of Hagen's olive green awning.

I've been back to Hagen several times now, and although it was takeaway only during the first two visits, more recently, I've been able to sit inside the small, elegant coffee bar. Whether you're drinking in or taking away, you can order through the large window that opens out from the counter. On my most recent visit, Debby was behind the bar, doing an amazing job of managing drink-in and take-out coffee and food orders.

The menu is simple: espresso-based drinks and filter coffee (currently brewed with coffee from Italian Gardelli Specialty Coffee), along with cold brew and hot chocolate. If you're feeling peckish, there are pastries, and avocado on toasted rye bread — the Scandivanian influence revealing itself again there. Over the past year, I've had a couple of cortados, the acclaimed cold brew and, most recently, a really delicious Tanzanian single-origin filter coffee. Each drink is brewed with care, and the quality of the drinks is consistently high. 

I can also speak highly of the avocado toast, which came with seeds, chilli and lemon. I was a little nervous when it arrived without cutlery, but rye bread is made of sterner stuff than your average toast, and I managed to eat my lunch without making too much mess.

The décor is minimalist, with a hearty helping of hygge. As you enter Hagen, the coffee bar is on the right, with a long, standing-room-only counter just opposite the door. Both are topped with marble and have mirrored sides, which reflect the black and white tiling of the floor. Around to the left, there are a couple of cosy nooks, with tall, leather-backed chairs set in front of the brass countertops that run along the walls.

In normal times, a haven away from the hustle and bustle of Regent Street is a welcome respite. And even when the world is not quite so hectic, it's just as important to take a few moments to enjoy a fine cup of coffee in a coffee shop like Hagen.

Hagen Espresso Bar. 27–29 Swallow Street, London W1B 4DH (Tube: Piccadilly Circus). Website. Instagram.

For 140+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, check out my London speciality coffee guide.

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