Surrey Hills Coffee

The Surrey Hills Coffee logo from the back wall of the coffee shop on Chapel Street, Guildford.Guildford has long been crying out for an independent, speciality coffee shop and finally, one has arrived! Surrey Hills Coffee, which has been roasting its own range of espresso & filter blends, plus a growing selection of single-origin coffees in the North Downs, has now opened its own coffee shop, taking over the lease on what was the Turn Fit Deli on Chapel Street.

It’s not a huge space, just a couple of tables, a window-bar and another bar at the back, but it’s bright and welcoming. The main draw is the coffee, although there is tea, soft drinks, plus a range of locally-baked cakes and made-to-order sandwiches, with ingredients from a range of local suppliers.

For somewhere so small, the range of coffee on offer is impressive: there are no fewer than three espresso blends, although if you don’t ask, you’ll get the default, the Holmbury Hill blend, which (in my opinion) is the best of the bunch. If you’re in a hurry, there’s the Cottage filter blend, available from a flask on the counter and made in small batches using the Moccamaster. Finally, if you don’t mind waiting, you can have a single-origin filter hand-made through the Chemex.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Surrey Hills Coffee on Guildford's Chapel Street, having taken over from the Turn Fit Deli.
  • Looks promising. Let's go in.
  • The view from just inside the door, counter to the left, seating to the right
  • There's this window-bar immediately to the right of the door...
  • ... and these two tables along the wooden benches in the front part of the store.
  • Beyond that, Surrey Hills narrows, and the seating narrows with it...
  • ... in the shape of this bar running along the right-hand wall.
  • A view of the seating at the front, looking towards the window.
  • There's a set of retail shelves immediately to your left as you come in.
  • As well as coffee-making kit, all of Surrey Hills' output is available to buy.
  • The beans behind the counter are for use in the shop: here's the decaf & an espresso blend.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot. These hang through the shop.
  • The counter is on the left, starting from just inside the door, cake at the front...
  • ... and the espresso machine and various grinders at the back.
  • To start at the beginning: the cake, with the tea above/behind it.
  • The cake in more detail. Lots of gluten-free and no-added-sugar options.
  • There's also a selection of made-to-order sandwiches...
  • ... with a strong emphasis on local suppliers.
  • The menu boards behind the counter are a mine of information about the coffee.
  • There's batch-brew filter coffee made in the Moccamaster...
  • ... and available from the flask on the counter. This is usually Surrey Hills' Cottage blend.
  • There's a range of other filter methods, although at the moment, only the Chemex is on offer.
  • Naturally, I had to try one. First step, weigh out the beans.
  • We're using a single-origin Kenya Kathima.
  • Next step, rinse the filter paper...
  • ... then place on the scales, zero them, and we're ready to go.
  • Monika, one of Surrey Hills' owners, gets things under way.
  • Let the coffee bloom...
  • Then top it up in a series of pours...
  • ... and leave to filter through.
  • The bird's eye view.
  • And there it is in the cup.
  • Let's not forget the espresso: a shot of the Holmbury Hill blend from an earlier visit.
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Surrey Hills Coffee is the brainchild of Swedish couple, Monika and Chris. They started roasting two years ago in their little roastery in Forest Green, deep in the Surrey Hills, with Chris roasting most of the coffee, although Monika tells me that she gets to roast all the “interesting” coffee.

For those who know Guildford, you might remember the space on Chapel Street as Turn Fit Deli. Turn Fit opened in December 2015, with deli quickly morphing into a coffee shop, supplied by Surrey Hills. However, with the opening of the new Turn Fit fitness studio and coffee bar on Bridge Street, Turn Fit decided to concentrate on that business and Surrey Hills took over the lease on Chapel Street.

Surrey Hills occupies an interesting spot. The entire front is glass, making for a bright, open space. There’s a door on the left, while the window to the right is taken up with a four-seat (well, stool, actually) window-bar. Stepping inside, the counter is directly in front of you, running almost the full length of the left-hand wall. Immediately to your left, you’ll find a rack of shelves holding Surrey Hills’ range of coffee and a selection of coffee-making kit (useful if you can’t get to the Coffee Charisma stall on the North Street Market).

The seating’s on the right, starting with the aforementioned window-bar, while beyond that, there are two tables, seating provided by a combination of the bench running along the wall and a scattering of stools. At this point, the building suddenly narrows, halving in width, leaving just enough space for a bar along the right-hand wall with another four stools.

The counter starts with a small selection of cake, containing plenty of gluten-free and no-added-sugar options. Above this is another shelf which holds the loose-leaf tea, a glass water butt and the Moccamaster, which Surrey Hills uses to brew up its Cottage filter-blend. This is then available on the counter in a self-serve flask next to the till. Finally, at the far end, there’s a single group Elektra espresso machine plus three grinders. The first one of these has the main espresso-blend, Holmbury Hill, while the second is for grinding retail bags of beans. Finally, there’s a third grinder for the other espresso blends, the decaf and the single-origins. There were two of these on offer while I was there, both available through the Chemex, still something of a rarity in any speciality coffee shop and unheard of in Guildford!

I first popped into Surrey Hills the week before my main visit, expecting to find Turn Fit. On that occasion, I tried the Holmbury Hill, a 50/50 blend of Brazil and Colombian beans, as an espresso. This was a great, well-balanced coffee, with plenty of body and well-rounded, fruity notes. The other two espressos, Pitch Hill and Box Hill (all hills in Surrey, by the way) contain various quantities of India Robusta, which, apparently, goes down very well in Sweden.

On my return, I went for a Chemex, Monika recommending the Kenyan Kathima, one of the “interesting” coffees that she roasts (there was also a Colombian Granja La Esperanza). This was a lovely coffee, very smooth and subtle, with more fruity notes. Pleasingly, it was served in the Chemex itself, with a cup on the side.

December 2016: Surrey Hills Coffee was a runner-up in the 2016 Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.

23 CHAPEL STREET • GUILDFORD • GU1 3UL
www.surreyhillscoffee.co.uk +44 7805 571520
Monday 08:30 – 17:00 Roaster Surrey Hills Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Bars
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:00 Food Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 12:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 7th May 2016

 

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