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.

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Kalm Kitchen Café (Glutton & Glee Update)

The Kalm Kitchen logo, the words "Kalm Kitchen" written five times around the circumference of a circle, with the letters "K.K" in the centre, all in white on grey.Glutton & Glee was one of the first places that I wrote about when I started the Coffee Spot in 2012. It’s also in my home-town of Guildford. Back then, with the exception of Bar des Arts, it was a lonely beacon of speciality coffee in a town full of chains. These days, despite the loss of Bar des Arts, it’s slightly less lonely, particularly with recent developments on Chapel Street and elsewhere [coming soon to the Coffee Spot]. It’s also changed its name.

After four years as Glutton & Glee, it became the Kalm Kitchen Café in February 2015. At first, the change was almost imperceptible, but as the year went on, it became more noticeable, although some things, such as Allpress’ Redchurch blend on the espresso machine, remained the same. The sign above the door still said “Glutton & Glee” too, and each time I visited, the staff told me that the rebranding/redecorating would be happening soon.

Then, one day, I went by and it said “Kalm Kitchen” above the door, so I made a note to come back with my camera. And so, yesterday, I did, finally having the perfect combination of a sunny day, my camera and a spare hour or two…

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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!

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Coffee Charisma Update

Trish, the Proud Owner of Coffee Charisma, at her Stall on Guildford's North Street MarketAs regular readers with long memories will know, my long-time coffee bean supplier is Coffee Charisma on Guildford’s North Street Market. I wrote about Trish and her excellent market stall not long after the Coffee Spot first started. Back then Trish supplied most of my coffee beans, with the exception of my espresso beans, which I got from London’s Algerian Coffee Stores. How things have changed!

Now my coffee comes from all over. Sometimes, it’s gifts from friendly roasters or suppliers (Leeds’ North Star Micro Roasters and the Press Coffeehouse subscription service being the latest examples: thanks guys). Other times I’ve been so impressed with a coffee that I’ve impulse bought a bag (for example, the Tiger Espresso Blend from Steampunk that I had at Monday’s Coffee Spot, Machina Espresso). There’s also the massive haul of coffee I obtained at the London Coffee Festival.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I don’t buy many beans from Trish these days. However, I do make a point of popping in to say hello as I wander by. Last Saturday I noticed that there was something different about the stall, so I strolled over and made a shocking discovery!

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Bar des Arts New Coffee Menu

Bar des Arts shiny new brew bar, complete with ceramic filters.Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the new coffee menu at my favourite Guildford Coffee Spot, Bar des Arts. If you’ve been following the Coffee Spot, you’ll know that this has been the result of lots of careful planning by Sara and her team, in consultation with new roasters, Horsham Coffee Roasters.

I’ve been along for the ride, offering my opinions (at Sara’s request, I hasten to add!), sticking my camera in at inopportune moments and generally documenting the whole process. So it was great to be able to go along on Saturday morning for the start of what will hopefully be a new era, not just for Bar des Arts, but for the whole Guildford coffee scene.

October 2015: Sadly Bar des Arts closed at the start of the month. I’m not sure what, if anything, will take its place.

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Coffee Tasting at Bar des Arts

Bar des Arts shiny new brew bar, complete with ceramic filters.On Monday I was lucky enough to be invited along to a coffee tasting at my favourite Guildford Coffee Spot, Bar des Arts. I’ve always liked the ambience at Bar des Arts, but Sara, the owner, wants to take the coffee up to the next level. To this end she invited local roaster, Bradley, from Horsham Coffee Roaster, to come along with some samples of his blends and single origin beans. I was asked pop down to help her and one of the baristas, Jon, to try them out!

Note that strictly speaking this wasn’t a cupping; we weren’t taste-testing lots of coffee, just trying a few of Bradley’s samples (three pour-overs and two espresso blends) to see how they shaped up. We were also trying out Bar des Arts new brew bar, with its ceramic filters, for the first time. Finally, we ambushed a few unsuspecting regular customers and got their opinions too!

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Guerra Coffee, Guildford

Guerra Coffee's first pop-up is in Guildford, on Friary Street, just at the bottom of the High StreetGuildford has a pop-up espresso bar! How exciting is that? For some reason, I associate pop-up espresso bars (or pop-up anything) with places such as London, Edinburgh or Bristol, not my home town of Guildford, so I, for one, was very excited.

Guerra Coffee has only been going for a few weeks, having sneakily waited until I was out of the country before opening. For those unfamiliar with the pop-up movement, the idea is to occupy unused space, often on a temporary basis. In that vein, Guerra Coffee shares space with the Limelight Portrait Studios on Friary Street, just off the bottom of Guildford’s High Street. However, I get the impression that Guerra would like to be more permanent than the typical pop-up.

Guerra’s focus is firmly on the coffee, with a mission to bring great coffee to a variety of locations (see the Guerra website for more details). It’s great to see Guerra opening up in Guildford, but whether Guildford is equally passionate about good coffee remains to be seen…

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Glutton & Glee

I must confess to being a bit slow off the mark with Glutton & Glee. It had been open for 18 months before I made my first visit, but I can guarantee it won’t be another 18 months before my next. Tucked away just off the High Street on Tunsgate, it’s somewhere I’ve always been aware of, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to visiting. Definitely my loss.

In many ways, Glutton & Glee is an old-fashioned British Tea Room with a modern coffee shop twist on the top. The bottom line is that it serves delicious cakes from the fantastic Butter & Cream Cakes (which you can find on Guildford’s North Street Market) as well as excellent coffee and (so I’m told by my tea-drinking friends) lovely tea. My approval in that direction stops at admiring the very fine teapots.

Glutton & Glee also does breakfast/brunch, lunch and sandwiches, but in my head it’s really an afternoon coffee and cake place of the sort that Guildford doesn’t really have enough of. Be warned though: it is small and it can be very busy, but at no point did I feel crowded out or cramped.

December 2015: Glutton & Glee changed hands earlier this year and has rebranded as Kalm Kitchen Cafe. You can see what I made of it when I visited in February 2016.
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Coffee Charisma

One of the great things about living in Guildford is the North Street market every Friday and Saturday. It’s my weekly haven from the supermarkets and the only place (other than the supermarkets) where you can get fresh fruit and vegetables. However, the North Street market is also the home of the excellent Coffee Charisma, where I get the bulk of my coffee beans.

The owner, Trish, is a Kiwi with a real passion for coffee, and it shows with the wide range of beans that are on offer. I have a couple of favourites, plus a decaffeinated variety, that I take on a regular basis, but Trish is always tempting me with various different beans. All her beans come from two local roasters and since she has fairly small deliveries, it means the beans are always fresh.

It also means that Trish occasionally runs out of my favourites, which is when she tempts me with an invariably lovely alternative. Well, she says she runs out. Personally, I think it’s just a ploy to sell me more coffee…

July 2014: Coffee Charisma now sells tea! Read all about it in the Coffee Charisma Update!

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Bar des Arts

A quiet, relaxed coffee spot by day and a lively, often packed bar at night, I’ve been going to the Bar des Arts since it first opened a couple of years ago. It’s my favourite coffee spot in my home town of Guildford and the one place I’ll make a point of going to just for the sheer pleasure of it. The coffee is very good (and has recently got a lot better), the pastries are excellent and the lunches never fail to delight.

As the name suggests, Bar des Arts has more in common with a European café than your standard coffee shop, which is probably what attracted me to it in the first place. A name such as “Bar des Arts” can be a double-edged sword: it sets a certain level of expectation which, if not met, can be very disappointing, but Bar des Arts has never failed to exceed my expectations, which is why I keep coming back.

The website describes itself as “an oasis of calm” which it most certainly is. A couple of minutes’ walk off the beaten track, Bar des Arts is certainly worth the (very small) extra effort.

October 2015: Sadly Bar des Arts closed at the start of the month. I’m not sure what, if anything, will take its place.

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