It’s with unexpected pleasure that I find myself writing about a new coffee shop (although pedants might argue with the use of the word “shop” here) when we’re right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all the problems that 2020 brought to the hospitality industry, speciality coffee has been doing rather well here in Guildford, with several new openings, including the Ceylon House of Coffee.
The subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Lily London, is on a slightly smaller scale, occupying one of two old telephone boxes at the High Street end of Tunsgate, nestling around the back of the grand edifice that is Tunsgate Arch. Serving its own coffee, imported from Brazil by the owner, and roasted by Plot Roasting, Lily London offers a standard espresso-based menu, along with retail bags of the coffee. Unsurprisingly, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.
May 2021: Lily London now has a pair of two-person tables which it puts out on the pavement every day if you want to sit to drink your coffee. There are also two more Lily Londons in telephone boxes, one in Eastbourne and the other outside the Shard in London.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Lily London opened right at the end of 2020, although it then closed over Christmas and New Year, before reopening on the first weekend on 2021. Although the concept of a speciality coffee shop in a phone box isn’t new (see, for example, Jake’s Coffee Box) they are still quite rare and Lily Coffee is definitely a first for Guildford.
Located at the High Street end of Tunsgate, it operates out of one of the two disused red telephone boxes located behind the Tunsgate Arch. This houses the two-group espresso machine, a very swish Sanremo grinder and the (bottled) water supply, with the coffee being served from a large table at the front. This all shelters under a large, temporary awning which is erected each day and taken down again at night.
The owner, Lily, started in the coffee business by importing green beans from Brazil, working with companies such as Horsham Coffee Roaster and Plot Roasting. When the time came to set up Lily London, it seemed natural to turn to Plot to roast the coffee, which is imported directly from various farms in Brazil. I suspect the precise coffee on offer will change on a seasonal basis, but for now, it’s a naturally-processed catuai varietal.
I popped down on Tuesday, armed with my trusty HuskeeCup, opting for a flat white, expertly made by my barista. I was also lucky enough to run into Lily, who was there when I visited. The coffee was excellent, going really well with the milk to make a smooth, well-rounded flat white. I also have to say that the milk was perfectly steamed (no mean feat when you are working outdoors), holding the latte art right to bottom of the cup. I had regular milk, but oat milk is also available for those that want it.
While I was chatting with Lily, who was telling me how helpful and supportive Guildford Borough Council had been when it came to getting the phone box up and running, I had a shot of the espresso, which was surprisingly bright, but with a pleasing sweetness.
If I hadn’t already got a cupboard full of beans at home (including an unopened bag of Horsham Coffee’s festive blend and one from Tandem Coffee Roasters which I’m working my way through at the moment) I’d have bought a bag to run through my Sage Barista Express. As it is, you can be sure that I’ll be back for a bag (and plenty of flat whites) in the near future!
|TUNSGATE ARCH • 124A HIGH STREET • GUILDFORD • GU1 3HQ|
|Monday||09:00 – 15:00||Roaster||Plot Roasting (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 15:00||Seating||N/A|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 15:00||Food||N/A|
|Thursday||09:00 – 15:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 15:00||Payment||Cards Only|
|Saturday||09:00 – 15:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Sunday||09:00 – 15:00||Power||N/A|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||12th January 2021|
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