Canopy Coffee (COVID-19 Update 2)

One of the beautiful coffee artworks on the wall of Canopy Coffee in Guildford, showing the branch of a coffee tree and cross-sections of the coffee cherry.Back in May, after two months of only drinking coffee I made myself, I visited the newly reopened Canopy Coffee, which, in the face of COVID-19, had reinvented itself as a takeaway coffee shop. On the back of that visit,  I wrote my first COVID-19 update, which has grown into a series (with more than 25 posts), charting how coffee shops are adapting to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

In many ways, of all Guildford’s speciality coffee shops, Canopy was probably the best-placed to weather the new phase of England-wide COVID-19 restrictions, which came into force at the start of November. While other coffee shops, such as Krema Coffee, re-opened their indoor seating over the summer, Canopy, having effectively pivoted from being a sit-in coffee shop, has remained takeaway only throughout the pandemic. Earlier this week, I went back to where I started my COVID-19 Updates to see how Canopy was coping.

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • In May this year, Guildford's Canopy Coffee reinvented itself as a takeaway coffee shop.
  • As a result, the main door to Canopy was no longer in use...
  • ... with customers being directed to the new takeaway hatch...
  • ... which Canopy created out of its side door.
  • The whole ensemble, as seen in May 2020.
  • Fast forward to November 2020, and not much has changed...
  • ... and Canopy Coffee is still a takeaway coffee shop.
  • However, if you look closer, there have been some changes: the main door is back in use!
  • And here it is, the inside of Canopy! As great as the hatch is, I've missed being in here.
  • The seating, which used to be off to the right, is gone/out of use of course...
  • ... while the desk/till for the takeaway window is now behind this curtain of coffee sacks.
  • I've also missed the beautiful coffee art on the walls.
  • Other than the addition of the now familiar Perspex screens, the counter's much the same.
  • You still order (and pay) at the end of the counter...
  • ... where you'll find the savouries in the cabinet off to the right...
  • ... with the menu in its familiar place on the wall to the right of that.
  • Meanwhile, the cakes and pastries are in their usual place off to the left.
  • With apologies for the reflections, the coffee is still prepared behind the counter.
  • There's the espresso machine...
  • ... and the Wilfa Classic batch brewer...
  • ... with the coffee choices hung on the board, which is tucked in between the two.
  • If you look carefully at the bottom, as well as the usual choices, there are some extras.
  • During my visit, there were a couple of extras on offer from Common Life Coffee.
  • The first was an Ethiopian Chelbesa, while this is another Ethiopian, the Danche...
  • ... which I tried as an espresso last week.
  • On my return last week, there was also a sample of a Colombian from Skylark...
  • ... which I also tried as an espresso (although it's not on the menu).
  • Finally, I had the batch filter to go, which I had in my new Frank Green cup...
  • ... which I was roadtesting at the time.
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From the outside, little seems to have changed at Canopy. However, if you get closer, you might notice that the sign directing you to the takeaway hatch (which Canopy installed in May) has been joined by another, asking you to wear a mask if you enter the shop. That’s right: although the hatch is still there, now you can also go inside Canopy to order.

The plans to open up the shop were put in place by Jonathon, the owner, before the latest COVID-19 restrictions. With winter on the way, he wanted somewhere warm and dry for customers to order/wait for their coffee. That said, unknown to me, Canopy had also reinstated limited indoor seating in October. Since this wasn’t advertised, I just carried on ordering at the takeaway hatch.

For the moment, the indoor seating is gone again, although you’re still welcome to order inside. Much as I enjoyed the efficiency of the hatch (which is still very much in operation), the one thing I missed was the interaction I used to have whenever I visited Canopy. Although I always said hello, I find the hatch very limiting, particularly since I stand there chatting, I’m preventing other customers from ordering.

So, if you want to say hello, pop a mask on, help yourself to some hand sanitiser (there’s a dispenser by the door) and head inside. You’ll find the layout much as it was, although the counter’s now sporting the customary Perspex screens, while off to the right, where the seating once was, a curtain of old coffee sacks hangs from the ceiling, screening the till inside the hatch from the rest of Canopy.

You order and pay at the same spot at the far end of the counter, and you’re welcome to wait inside while your coffee is made. Everything else is pretty much where it used to be, with the savoury options to the right of the till, cakes and pastries to the left. Even the coffee choices are there, on the board to the left of the espresso machine.

When it went takeaway only in May, Canopy cut down its coffee offering to a single option on espresso, along with decaf and batch brew, the coffee coming from a rotating cast of some of the country’s best roasters. This is still pretty much the case, although if you look carefully, you’ll see some additional choices chalked up at the bottom of the selection board.

When I visited, Jonathon had just had some samples in from Skylark Coffee and Common Life (a Skylark Coffee brand). I hope to write about Common Life, so for now I’ll just say it’s part of the Buncton Manor community near Brighton, which includes the Pro Baristas training school. I ended up (over the course of two visits), sampling most of it, starting with Common Life’s Ethiopian Danche, a naturally-processed coffee which Jonathon pulled as an espresso. Fruity, but fairly subtle, it was an interesting, well-rounded shot.

On my return, I tried an experimental naturally-processed Colombian from Skylark, which Jonathon had tried as a pour-over and which I suggested we try as an espresso. I won’t say it was a mistake, but it’s not going to be for everybody. A really fruity coffee, it came with a (not unpleasant) punch. After my first two sips, I had the third diluted with some hot water, which eased it somewhat, so I could see why Jonathon liked it so much as a pour-over.

Finally, I had some of that day’s batch brew, a washed Ethiopian, again from Skylark. Initially I didn’t get a lot from it, but it was in my new Frank Green ceramic cup, which I was road-testing. This can keep coffee warm for a hour or two, so I took it home with me, where I found that it had cooled slightly, bringing out the sweet, fruity notes in the coffee, which I really appreciated.

62 HAYDON PLACE • GUILDFORD • GU1 4NE +44 (0) 7980 881610
Monday 08:00 – 16:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + batch-brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 16:00 Seating N/A
Wednesday 08:00 – 16:00 Food Cake, Lunch
Thursday 08:00 – 16:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:00 – 16:00 Payments Cards Only
Saturday 08:30 – 16:30 Wifi N/A
Sunday 09:30 – 16:00 Power N/A
Chain No Visits Original: July/August 2017
Update: 6th, 17th November 2020

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3 thoughts on “Canopy Coffee (COVID-19 Update 2)

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