In April, I heard rumours of a new coffee shop in my home town of Guildford from my friends at Surrey Hills Coffee. By May, I’d identified the site, an awkwardly-shaped corner unit opposite Waitrose. I became a regular visitor, wandering past and watching the coffee shop, Canopy Coffee, take shape over the next two months, wondering when it would open. The big day came in early July. Naturally, I was in America, so missed it.
Hurrying back, I made up for lost time by becoming a semi-regularly visitor. I’m trying to work my way through the coffee menu, but Jonathon, the owner, changes it faster than I can drink it! A multi-roaster, Canopy gets small quantities of beans from roasters around the country, including Origin, Square Mile and, most recently, North Star. There are two options on espresso, with two more on pour-over through the Kalita Wave or Chemex. Canopy’s also experimenting with batch-brew through the Moccamaster for those in a hurry.
The food, by the way, is as special as the coffee, with an all-day breakfast/lunch menu featuring various staples on toast, locally-produced quiches and salads, backed up by a range of mouth-watering cakes, again all baked locally.
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.
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…
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!
As 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!
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.
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!
Guildford 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…
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.
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!