Surrey Hills Coffee, Jeffries Passage

Details from the A-board outside the new home of Surrey Hills Coffee on Jeffries Passage in Guildford.For a long time, my home town of Guildford had been crying out for an independent, speciality coffee shop. Then, two years ago, along came Surrey Hills Coffee, a local roaster which opened its own coffee shop on Chapel Street, taking over the lease from TurnFit Deli. These days, Surrey Hills has some good company, with Canopy Coffee opening last year and Krema Coffee coming along this year.

However, the shop on Chapel Street was never ideal, effectively being someone else’s space, with a small, cramped layout. The owners, Monika and Chris, who roast all the coffee in a roastery in Forest Green in (you guessed it) the Surrey Hills, had been looking for a new, bigger home. Now they’ve found it, Surrey Hills moving just a few streets away to Jeffries Passage at the top of the High Street.

The new shop is bright and spacious, with an upstairs as well, although that’s currently work-in-progress. Right now, Surrey Hills is up and running, with a basic coffee-and-cake offering (espresso, batch-brew filter and pour-over), along with the full retail range of coffee, although as things settle down, the plan is to serve breakfasts and light lunches too. Watch this space!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Surrey Hills Coffee, a welcome sight on Guildford's Chapel Street.
  • Except! Wait a minute! What's this I see (or don't see) as I walk past at the end of May?
  • All becomes clear from the sign in the window.
  • Don't know where Jeffries Passage is? Along with this sign, it's at the top of the High St.
  • And here, halfway down, is what's to become the new home for Surrey Hills Coffee...
  • .. and old toy shop called Tiny Tangles, which had stood vacant for since 2016.
  • Those photos were from May. This is when I popped back in June, a week before opening!
  • As you can see, Surrey Hills was a hive of activity, with lots of painting and carpentry!
  • This is where kitchen space behind the counter was going...
  • ... and this is where the window-bar would be just five days later!
  • And here I am, a week after opening, approaching from the High Street...
  • ... while this is the view coming the other way from North Street.
  • The view from just inside the door. What a transformation!
  • Another panorama from just inside the door.
  • A window-bar runs along the large front window...
  • Another view of the window-bar, the sloping Jeffries Passage running along outside.
  • Behind that is a row of three tables between the window and the counter...
  • ... seen here from the far corner. Already that's way more seating than in Chapel Street.
  • Finally, there's a four-person bar against the left-hand wall.
  • A view of the seating from the far, back-left corner.
  • However, that's not all. In the far corner, steps lead tantalisingly up...
  • ... to an additional seating area which is currently work-in-progress. Watch this space!
  • Back downstairs and the well-stocked retail shelves are on the wall by the door...
  • ... with the usual bags of coffee from Surrey Hills, plus a range of coffee-making kit.
  • It's a bit sparse at the moment, decor-wise, so ths plant is a welcome addition.
  • So, to business. The counter pretty much occupies the back wall...
  • ... with cakes to the right, till in the middle & espresso machine + batch-brew on the left.
  • The counter, seen from the far end.
  • Surrey Hills is just settling in, but there'll be the usual array of coffee on offer.
  • There's a pour-over area behind the counter...
  • .. with bags of the current coffee on the shelves above.
  • The concise menu is also on the wall behind the counter.
  • I always try to bring something back for Surrey Hills: here's a Colombian from Back to Black, spoils of my recent trip to Amsterdam (which is why I missed the opening).
  • In return, I had a flat white, made with the Holmbury Hill house-blend.
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Despite the very welcome growth in new coffee shops, I’ve always had a special affinity for Surrey Hills, always trying to bring something special back from my travels for the staff. I’ve known since the start of the year that, with the Chapel Street lease up for renewal, Monika and Chris were looking for somewhere bigger. Nevertheless it was something of a shock when, not long after returning from Thailand, I wandered down Chapel Street to find the shop (literally) empty.

Surrey Hills had found a new home in Jeffries Passage, but in a story I hear far too often, getting the lease signed was a long, painful process, with the lease on Chapel Street expiring before the new premises were ready. This led to a rather fraught four weeks when Surrey Hills was homeless, culminating in a somewhat frantic fit-out. As you can see from the gallery, Chris, Monika and the team (mostly staff from Chapel Street) did a fantastic job, turning the place around in less than two weeks. I visited five days before it opened and was amazed by how quickly they transformed things. Maybe I should ask them over to do some work on my house…

For those that don’t know, Jeffries Passage is a narrow, pedestrian alley running down from the top of the High Street to North Street, with Abbot’s Hospital on the right and a row of shops, mostly two-storey, on the left. The alley doesn’t get much daylight, but this is compensated for by a massive window, which runs the full width of the store (which is about twice as wide as it is deep), terminating in a glass door on the right.

The layout’s simple, the counter occupying the back wall, a small kitchen area tucked under the stairs behind it. A six-person window-bar runs the full width of the window, with a row of three square tables between it and the counter. These have a stools on either side (front and back), with four more stools, one on either end, and two between the three tables, so it seats 10 in all. Finally, a four-person bar lines the left-hand wall.

Turning to the coffee, Surrey Hills is keeping things simple for the moment. The Holmbury Hill blend (60% Brazil, 40% Colombia) is on the main grinder, with a guest on the second grinder, plus the Cottage filter-blend on batch-brew through the ever-reliable Moccamaster, available on the counter in a self-serve flask by the till. There’s also pour-over through the Chemex. I believe that the range is limited at the moment, but I suspect that more coffee will be on offer once things settle down.

I missed the re-opening, which was cunningly timed for the Saturday of the World of Coffee in Amsterdam, but I popped in the following Saturday to say hello. Sadly I missed Monika and Chris, who were having the weekend off (don’t blame them) but was well-looked after by barista Tiago and also got to say hi to Gina (another Chapel Street stalwart) who popped in on her day off for some coffee…

I brought with me my customary gift, a single-origin Colombian filter from Amsterdam’s Back to Black, which I exchanged for a flat white, made with the Holmbury Hill blend, something of a novelty for me since Monika’s usually pressing the latest single-origin espresso or pour-over on me. I remember enjoying a previous version of the Holmbury Hill as an espresso in Chapel Street, and I’m pleased to say this version went equally well in milk, producing a rich, bold coffee with lots of flavour.

12 JEFFRIES PASSAGE • GUILDFORD • GU1 4AP
www.surreyhillscoffee.co.uk +44 (0) 7951 203640
Monday 07:30 – 17:30 Roaster Surrey Hills Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:30 Seating Tables, Bars
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:30 Food Cake (for now)
Thursday 07:30 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:30 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 12:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 30th June 2018

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