Ground Coffee Houses is a chain of precisely two. Business partners Matthew and Rick founded the original in Kemp Town, Brighton, four years ago, going on to open this branch on Church Road, Hove, two years later.
Ground appears to believe in keeping things simple with a straightforward layout and minimal décor (particularly in contrast to somewhere such as The Marwood), perhaps so that it doesn’t distract from the coffee, which seems to be the focus. It’s a busy place with a bustling, convivial atmosphere, background music adding to the hum of conversation. If coffee’s not your thing, there’s loose-leaf tea as well as sandwiches and cake.
Ground gets its house blend from Union Hand-roasted, a particular favourite of mine, while taking espresso and filter beans from regularly rotating guest roasters. A fairly regular guest is one of my favourite local small batch roasters, Horsham Coffee Roaster. While I was there, Ground had an impressive number of its offerings squirreled away under the counter. Bradley, the man behind Horsham Coffee Roaster, was most insistent that I paid Ground a visit once he knew that I’d be going to Hove. How could I refuse…?
December 2015: I’ve learnt that the Hove branch has now closed.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Ostensibly I was in Hove to watch some cricket; day two of the County Championship clash between hosts Sussex and the title-challenging Yorkshire. However, following a visit to Brighton and Hove the previous week, I realised just how many decent coffee shops there were (I ran out of fingers and, not wanting to frighten people by taking my socks off, stopped counting when I got to 10). Determined not to miss an opportunity, I sacrificed a little cricket and popped out at tea-time to make a quick dash to Ground. I could just have easily picked either of Small Batch’s two Hove branches, but the thought of having to confess to Bradley that I’d been to Hove and not visited Ground influenced my decision…
What I found was, on the surface, a pretty ordinary-looking coffee shop, although once I’d scratched away a little, I discovered that there was a lot more to Ground than first met the eye.
However, I didn’t get off to the best of starts, managing to arrive at a very busy time (3.30 on a grey Thursday afternoon!). Every table was taken, which is fairly impressive given the range of seating. Starting outside, there are two tables in a slightly recessed bay by the windows, giving shelter from the pavement. Inside benches run along the windows either side of the door with a small table to the right and two more to the left, tucked between counter and window. The bulk of the seating is opposite the counter, five two-person tables and two four-person ones lined up by a bench running along the wall. Finally, in the back corner is a lovely little comfy seating area over which I cast several envious glances, but the occupants refused to budge (can’t say I blame them!). The good news is that Ground is due to open the basement in the next month or so which will provide lots more seating.
As well as coffee, I’d come for a mid-afternoon snack (I’d somewhat carelessly missed out on lunch; shocking, I know). Cunningly, I managed to confused myself, thinking I’d ordered an avocado toasted sandwich, but got avocado on toast instead. In fairness, the little chalk board did say “avocado on organic toast” and that’s exactly what I got. And very nice it was too, with the toast crunchy at crust but not over-done.
The confusion continued with ordering the coffee. Ground has a lot of coffee, with the usual espresso-based offerings, complimented by batch brew, V60 and Aeropress. The guy behind the till (who I think was relatively new) seemed a bit confused by it all, but in his defence, he was friendly, helpful and honest. Unfortunately, given the rush, the barista was busy making everyone’s coffee, so couldn’t help out, but we muddled through in the end, helped by the arrival of co-owner Matthew.
Of course, I had to have something from Horsham Coffee Roaster, so went for the Kenya Kagumoini AA on the Aeropress. I was rewarded with a lovely full-bodied coffee, which evolved as it cooled into very nice brew, not too fruity or complex, but with a definite something.
After all that fuss, by the time I’d sat down and been served, half the tables were empty! Was it something I said?
|84 CHURCH ROAD • HOVE • BN3 2EB|
|http://groundcoffeehouses.com/||+44 (0) 1273 724709|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Union + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Benches, Sofa, Tables Outside|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Sandwiches, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code: don’t ask, it’s complicated)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||12th September 2013|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Brighton and Hove’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.
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