Flying Coffee Bean, Guildford

The FCB Logo: the letters "FCB" in white in the centre of an orange circle, with "Artisan Espresso Bars" in white around the circumference.The Flying Coffee Bean is a chain of coffee kiosks on stations in the South East. The Guildford one’s been a fixture for several years, but, until recently, I never gave it a second thought. I distinctly remember when, a couple of years before I started the Coffee Spot, I took my coffee (a two-shot latte) back to get an extra shot because all I could taste was milk. The barista didn’t look best pleased, explaining that this was how the customers liked it, at which point I decided to take my custom elsewhere.

Fast forward to six months ago and, for various reasons, I revisited the Flying Coffee Bean. Expecting disappointment, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only could I taste the coffee, it was really nice-tasting coffee too! 12-second extractions were a thing of the past and the milk was steamed so it held decent latte-art.

Consider me converted!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Many people's first view of the Flying Coffee Bean is as they head along Platform 2.
  • Alternatively, if you came in the back or got off a train, you get this view...
  • Unless you got off a train and went down the ramp, of course. Then you come up behind FCB.
  • However, this is the best view: head on.
  • FCB nails its colours firmly to the Artisan Coffee mast with its various signs...
  • ... and the promise is delivered! Even if there's a teapot as well...
  • The business end of FCB.
  • There's plenty of sweet things to tempt you, although it's mostly pastries...
  • See what I mean?
  • If you get up far earlier than I ever do, there are hot bacon rolls & sausage rolls too.
  • Talking of food, there are handmade baguettes for lunch.
  • I know that they're handmade: I interrupted the manager, Mike, when he was making them!
  • Here are some of the baguettes, waiting to go out...
  • ... and while the basket was looking empty, there were plenty more on the shelves.
  • However, the focus is on the coffee. Horsham Coffee Roaster supplies the house-blend...
  • ... while FCB shows its commitment to local sourcing by using regular guest roasters.
  • You'll find details of the current guest, plus tasting notes, chalked up at the back.
  • Back in January it was the turn of London's Misson Coffee Works with a Yirgacheffe.
  • And here's the coffee itself in a flat white. Very tasty too.
  • The first of my return visits, drawn by another Horsham Coffee Roaster guest bean. Keep Cup balances precariously to get it all in shot (which is how I lost my first Keep Cup in Dublin!)
  • I returned in November to sample another Horsham Coffee Roaster guest, this time a Kenyan.
  • And here it is after JOCO Cup and I had to dash for the train which messed up the latte art.
  • Despite now supplying the house-blend, Horsham Coffee Roaster was also the guest on my most recent visit, this time with a Rwandan.
  • The lovely latte art in my flat white was by Mike himself. The coffee, as ever, was lovely.
  • FCB sells Keep Cups, along with all the other coffee kit. It also offers a Keep Cup discount...
  • ... which, as JOCO Cup discovered, applies to other reusable cups. No discrimination here.
  • Talking of local sourcing, the chocolate is from nearby Ewhurst. It's made by Joanna...
  • ... who you can find on her stall at Guildford's Farmers' Market.
  • There's a much wider range of chocolate here.
  • Notes on the ingredients on the back explain why they're good for you. Healthy chocolate!
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Various factors lay behind my trying the Flying Coffee Bean again, not least because my friends at Horsham Coffee Roaster had started supplying the guest bean. I was also intrigued by a re-branding of FCB as an artisan espresso bar. Fully prepared to scoff, I found myself having to eat my own thoughts. It really was artisan coffee!

I don’t often go down to Guildford mainline station, FCB’s home, but since my conversion, I’ve made a point of popping in when I can. On Tuesday I was able to catch up with Mike, who manages the Guildford and Woking FCBs. Amazingly, Mike, who cut his coffee-teeth in Costa a decade ago, recognised me, not from my Coffee Spot exploits, but from when I was a regular at the Costa in Waterstone’s in Guildford all those years ago.

Mike’s come a long way since then and, I’m pleased to say, so has FCB. Horsham Coffee Roaster, who have had been providing guest beans for a while now, recently started supplying the house-blend as well, part of FCB’s desire to source locally wherever possible. This led to a widening of the net for guest roasters, with Horsham Coffee Roasters sharing duties with the likes of London’s Mission Coffee Works. All the guests are single-origins and every one I’ve tried has gone well with milk.

FCB packs a lot into such a small kiosk. As well as the house-blend and guest, there’s decaf and, for those of that persuasion, tea. The food offering is equally impressive, with hot bacon and sausage rolls in the morning, plus an extensive range of cakes and pastries. Handmade baguettes make an appearance at lunchtime: I know that they’re handmade because I watched Mike making them!

FCB sells coffee-making kit and champions re-use, not only by selling a range of Keep Cups, but by offering a Keep Cup discount as well, quite a rare occurrence. I’m pleased to report that JOCO Cup got a discount too!

Local sourcing extends to chocolate, with the Guildford branch, under Mike’s initiative, stocking award-winning Kokoh chocolate, made in nearby Ewhurst by Joanna. You can find her at Guildford’s Farmers’ Market, the first Tuesday of every month. I popped by to say hello and, while chatting, was impressed to discover the similarities between good coffee and good chocolate, where it all starts with sourcing the beans.

The transformation of FCB from an average coffee kiosk to provider of top-quality coffee is impressive and to be welcomed. If you want to try for yourself, the Guildford branch is on Platform 2. Although it’s through the ticket barriers, just ask the station staff for a bridge pass and wander on in. It’s what I did.

GUILDFORD RAILWAY STATION • STATION APPROACH • GUILDFORD • GU1 4UT
www.facebook.com/FCBGuildford
Monday 06:00 – 19:00 Roaster Horsham Coffee Roaster + Guests (espresso only)
Tuesday 06:00 – 19:00 Seating N/A
Wednesday 06:00 – 19:00 Food Breakfast, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 06:00 – 19:00 Service Takeaway
Friday 06:00 – 19:00 Cards Cash only
Saturday 07:00 – 16:00 Wifi N/A
Sunday 07:00 – 16:00 Power N/A
Chain Regional Visits 3rd February 2015

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5 thoughts on “Flying Coffee Bean, Guildford

  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks so much for the great write up. Mike and his team will be very pleased. We have been on an incredible coffee journey in the last 18months and it’s always rewarding to hear that our teams efforts are being noticed! If you happen to be in London at any point please do visit our shop at Denmark Hill Station, I think you will like it!

    The FCB team

  2. Nice post. I thought the same when they started at Denmark Hill -but they have just started stocking Volcano coffee including my fave mountain blend. Also have to agree keepcup discount is a welcomed rarity as it is their generous NHS discount!! Keep it up FCB!

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