Speciality coffee shops on university campuses are something of a rarity, so imagine my surprise when this popped up on Instagram: a new speciality coffee shop on the University of Surrey’s Guildford Campus! I was in Ireland at the time, but I made visiting a priority on my return.
The Hideout is well-named since it’s not the easiest place to find, especially if you don’t know the campus (an address of University of Surrey, Guildford, doesn’t help!). It’s at the western end of campus in an old bank branch, opposite PATS Field. As an added bonus, it’s now on Google Maps.
Run by the welcoming duo of Beau and Charlie, it’s a large, relaxed spot, with an eclectic range of seating, from conventional tables to beanbags on the floor, plus there’s a bike shop on-site as well. The coffee is from old friends Union Hand-roasted, with the Bright Note blend on espresso, plus there are plans for batch brew filter in due course. In an interesting twist, The Hideout has done away with disposable takeaway cups, so don’t forget to bring your own cup if you’re not staying. Finally, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes and toast-based savouries.
April 2021: The Hideout has remained open pretty much the whole time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. You can see how The Hideout was doing when I visited in April following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in England to allow outdoor seating.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Hideout opened a month ago, putting an old bank building to good use. Beau and Charlie, who run The Hideout, are no strangers to the University of Surrey, having started off a year ago with a coffee cart. After slogging their way through all weathers last winter and, with this winter looming, they jumped at the chance to move indoors!
The Hideout occupies a standalone, single-storey brick building on the south side of PATS Field, just around the corner from the BBC Surrey studios. Although it’s a bit of a way from the town centre, there’s a regular bus service, the nearest bus stop being a few minutes’ walk away.
There’s plenty of outside seating to either side of the central door, with a pair of tables to the right and a table and bench to the left, all sheltered under the projecting roof. Inside, it’s a single space, open to the A-frame roof, with the counter to the left, the remaining space being given over to the seating. The bike shop, from Geared Up Cycles, is in the back, right-hand corner and is currently offering an appointment-only service.
When it comes to seating, you’re spoilt for choice. You can sit at the counter, where four chairs form a line by the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, or there’s an eight-person communal table set back from the door in front of the counter. There’s another eight-person communal table off to the right, and, between the two, two sets of back-to-back sofas. The first set, just ahead of you on the right as you enter, consists of two two-person sofas, facing each other across a coffee table, while the second set, behind the first, has a sofa and a pair of armchairs.
There are more lounging opportunities at the far, right-hand end, where eight large bean bags are arranged on the floor, with a couple of small, round tables for your coffee. Next to these, in the back right-hand corner, in front of the bike shop, are five high, wing-back red chairs arranged in a circle around another small coffee table. Finally, there’s a four-person bar along the back wall and an eight-person window-bar at front, to the right of door.
You order your coffee at the two-part counter which occupies the left-hand end of The Hideout. The first part, where you’ll find the till, cakes and pastries, faces into shop, with the second part, where you collect your coffee, is at 90° to that, facing the wall, giving you a good view of the espresso machine in action.
I started off with a flat white, Union’s Bright Note blend going well with the milk. I paired this with a very fine oat and raisin cookie, which was both crunchy and sweet, following it up with an espresso, a lovely, well-balanced shot with just a touch of acidity.
I talked with Beau and Charlie about the challenges of a campus coffee shop, where the bulk of the customers are students, about one-third of whom leave each year, never to come back! Although they accept that students will always form the majority of their customers, they’d love to see non-university folk popping in, so you’ll always be welcome. We also talked about the challenge of going disposable-free and the good news is that, so far, it’s been extremely well-received, with customers bringing their own cups, or buying a KeepCup from the retail shelves next to the door.
December 2019: The Hideout has won the 2019 Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
|UNIVERSITY OF SURREY • GUILDFORD • GU2 7XS|
|Monday||08:30 – 17:00||Roaster||Union Hand-roasted (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Window-Bar, Counter
Sofas, Bean Bags; Tables (outside)
|Wednesday||08:30 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Cake|
|Thursday||08:30 – 17:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||08:30 – 17:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||CLOSED||Wifi||Free (with registration)|
|Chain||No||Visits||29th October 2019|
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