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Coffee From the Hills Of …er …Surrey

Published on: 17 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 2 Mar, 2017

Surrey Hills coffee shop in Chapel Street, Guildford

By Megan Wilman

Fancy a coffee in Guildford? You don’t have to stray too far from Guildford High Street to find yourself a gem. Tucked away to the side in Chapel Street is a little café called Surrey Hills Coffee.

Little is the operative word, it’s as cosy as they come with just four seating areas, but it’s filled with warmth and the aroma of great coffee. Customers are encouraged to share the limited space with strangers, maybe, (shock, horror) even strike up a conversation with them.

Surrey Hills is owned by Monika and Chris Simions. They’ve shared coffee businesses in Sweden, London and now Guildford, along with a roastery in Forest Green. It is safe to say they are passionate about what they do.

“We didn’t know how it was going to be,” says Monika of starting up the café last April. “It’s really difficult and of course the rents are high, but we are quite pleased because there is a demand for an independent coffee shop, so we are pleased with the outcome.”

This is true, not only is Guildford expensive to rent shop space in, but Monika and Chris faced fierce competition with endless mainstream coffee shops littered across town.

Were they at all intimidated?

“Not at all! I think that Guildford would benefit from more coffee shops, because there is bigger demand for independent coffee shops, in London they are popping up all the time.

“People like the independence I think, if there are two independent coffee shops, it’s more fun for people to have more variety to choose from and the awareness of good quality coffee rises.”

Quality is one of Surrey Hills Coffee’s selling points… “It’s all hand-made…”

Quality is one of Surrey Hills Coffee’s selling points. All the coffee beans are sourced from their roastery in Forest Green near Ewhurst – in the “Surrey Hills”, of course. They also sell coffee beans and ground coffee to other local businesses.

“Yes we do have different customers, we have pubs, offices, restaurants and also farm shops. It’s a small roaster, it can only do 10 kilos at a time.”

As well as selling to local businesses Monika and Chris also like to buy from them. Everything in the shop is handmade. “We never ever serve anything we have just bought and don’t care about. It’s all hand-made, we have a local lady who makes her own cakes and has her own business.”

Not only this, but health plays an important role when deciding what to stock in store. Vegan salads are available along with gluten free cakes and even two choices of dairy free milk. When asked whether this was by choice or due to popular demand, the answer is simple. “Both,” says Monika.

“I think it’s a good idea to offer something that is slightly more healthy, pretty soon we realised that there was a huge demand for vegan and gluten free options. It’s a bigger demand than we expected. We buy from Nourish Kitchen and they provide some cakes and some salads for us and they are also a local business. They only do healthy things.”

The Surrey Hills Coffee conscientious ethos extends to all aspects of the business. They have come up with an innovative method of disposing of used coffee beans. They are bagged up and left outside for any passer-by to pick up.

Monika explains: “It’s actually a really good fertiliser. We didn’t want to put it all on the landfill so we carried all the used coffee beans home for our garden, but we got swamped with used coffee beans,” she laughs.

“Then we figured it’s better if we bag the used coffee beans and place them outside, then people can carry it home. It is a success so we don’t have to throw it away, it just goes to different gardens around Guildford and Surrey. I wish more coffee shops did that.” She adds that they only use compostable coffee cups, because the environment is very important to them.

So, if you ever find yourself searching for something out of the norm, wander down Chapel Street and discover friendly faces, good compost to nourish your plants and even better coffee to nourish your soul.

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Responses to Coffee From the Hills Of …er …Surrey

  1. B Hester Reply

    February 19, 2017 at 7:49 am

    There is a need for meeting people in a community way too. Good luck.

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