Open Grounds Café was one of the surprising number of speciality coffee shops which sprung up in Guildford during the COVID-19 pandemic. I visited not long after it first opened in December last year, during that brief period when sit-in customers were allowed in the run-up to Christmas. Then came further COVID-19 restrictions and Open Grounds switched to a takeaway operation.
I returned in April after the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions allowed coffee shops to serve customers at outdoor seating, something that Open Grounds, with its large terrace, was ideally placed to take advantage of. You still had to go inside to order, taking you through the equally large interior, which was off-limits until the COVID-19 restrictions were further relaxed in mid-May, allowing indoor service to restart. Giving Open Grounds a couple of weeks to settle in, I returned at the start of June to reacquaint myself with the wonderfully spacious interior.
You can see what I found after the gallery.
Open Grounds Café is part of Guildford Baptist Church, which is set back above the River Wey at Millmead. The aforementioned terrace is in front of the church, stretching for about half its width on the left-hand side and accessed via a broad flight of steps on the right. Alternatively, a ramp runs up from the back to the right of the steps.
In December, you could use the doors at the top of the stairs, but for now, access is via the seating area on the terrace, where you’ll find three broad, floor-to-ceiling windows at the back, the central one of which slides open to let you into Open Grounds. You can still sit outside, of course (and, since my last visit, several large umbrellas have been added to provide protection from the elements, be that sun, rain or both!).
Inside, Open Grounds occupies the bulk of a large, open foyer at the front of the church, windows on three sides and a skylight towards the back making it very bright, even on a cloudy day. This magnificent space is about as big as the terrace, with the counter at the back on the left and the seating at the front, although there’s a broad corridor on the right which provides access to the church at the back. Even with the requirement to keep the tables well distanced from each other, there’s plenty of seating.
A small table just inside the door on your left has the QR Code for the NHS App, along with a paper alternative. The seating itself is arranged around the sides, so you still have a clear path to the counter. There’s plenty of choice, including two sofas, each with a pair of armchairs, another pair of armchairs in a corner, a couple of communal tables (although they’re more useful for groups at the moment) and several tables for two.
Select your seat, make a note of the table number, then pop to the counter to order and, as if by magic, your coffee will be brought out to you. Not much has changed since my first visit, with Open Grounds still offering a standard espresso-based menu built around a single-origin Brazilian from Ethicaladdictions, plus decaf and batch brew filter. There’s tea and soft drinks, while if you’re hungry, soup, a small selection of sandwiches and curry puffs, plus a range of cakes, scones and pastries are all on offer.
The only addition since my previous visit is a selection of sweet and savoury waffles. Sadly, I wasn’t there for long enough to try these out, instead enjoying a quick espresso to make a change from my usual flat white. On its own, the single-origin Brazilian produced a nicely rounded shot with classic notes of nut.
You can read more about Open Grounds in my original post from my visit in April.
December 2021: Open Grounds Café was a runner-up for the 2021 Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
|BAPTIST CHURCH • MILLMEAD • GUILDFORD • GU2 4BE|
|www.facebook.com/opengroundscafe||+44 (0) 1483 575008|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Ethicaladdictions (espresso) + SkyLark (batch brew)|
|Tuesday||10:00 – 14:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Armchairs; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||10:00 – 16:00||Food||Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||10:00 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||10:00 – 16:00||Payment||Card Only|
|Saturday||10:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 16th April, 1st May 2021
Update: 3rd June 2021
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Guildford’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Guildford.
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