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It’s the question that comes up in every kitchen at some stage; how to make the perfect cup of coffee? Boiling water or slightly steaming? Cream and sugar, or a splash of soya? Pure and untainted, or with a dash of whisky?

Okay, so the latter may be a little bit much for breakfast time, but there’s no doubt that the combinations are endless.

“For me, it all depends on whether it’s a single-origin coffee or a blend and, even more, if we are talking about filter coffee or espresso,” says co-founder of Surrey Hills Coffee, Chris Malmcrona, who runs the business with his wife Monika. “Usually, I prefer to enjoy the pure flavour just as it comes – with the water just below boiling – but, if it’s a blend, I sometimes add a small dash of milk.”

Certainly well-placed to comment on the topic, Chris has worked in the coffee world for many years – initially in his native Sweden, before later starting his own roasting business, Surrey Hills Coffee, in 2014. Today, they are one of the county’s leading coffee producers with four flagship blends – Holmbury Hill (a filter/espresso), Box Hill (an espresso), Pitch Hill (an espresso) and the Cottage Blend (a filter) – as well as a small range of teas and a hot chocolate.

All produced from their roastery in a beautiful barn at the foot of Leith Hill, a great deal of thought goes into their different coffee blends, with the beans coming from as far afield as Brazil, Columbia and Kenya according to their different taste notes. So which variety is his own particular favourite?

“That would have to be our premium espresso blend, Holmbury Hill,” says Chris. “It’s a nice all-round medium coffee that is not too light and not too dark. So, it works well on its own but also with milk.”

Independent coffee shop

For those who are keen to try Surrey Hills Coffee for themselves, as well as being available at farm shops, independent cafés and gourmet pubs across the county, they also have a popular café of their own in Guildford. Originally based in Chapel Street, they moved into the picturesque passageway, Jeffries Passage, last summer – and things couldn’t be going better.

“We’ve gone for quite a Scandi, pared-back kind of style, and it seems to be working well,” says Chris. “It’s about twice the size of our old place, as it’s spread over two floors, and the beauty of this is what we have a different vibe on each floor. Downstairs it’s all hustle and bustle with music and chat while upstairs we’ve gone for a quieter atmosphere where people can do some work or just read a book.

“As well as our own freshly-roasted coffee, we also serve breakfast and light lunches alongside homemade cakes – including vegan and gluten-free.”

Alternatively, on the other side of Guildford, they also have their new ‘Coffee Pod’. Located in a container on the office estate at London Square, close to London Road station, this too has been going down a storm. So what else have they got in store for us this year?

“I’m very keen now to work on reducing waste,” says Chris. “You see so much waste in the coffee world, so we’ve been encouraging our wholesale clients to take our reusable buckets, and we are also switching to containers of coffee, instead of packets, in our café.”

So, not only a first-class cup of coffee, but one with a clear conscience as well. We’ll drink to that!

Photo: Alicja Olszewska

Tags: gluten-free coffee vegan

Surrey Hills and beyond

Surrey Hills Coffee not only sells a large range of coffee-related products, but also showcases its craft at its café at 12 Jeffries Passage in Guildford selling breakfast, light lunches and delicious cakes alongside its famous brews. The artisan company, who have their coffee roastery in Abinger Hammer, has also recently opened its "Coffee Pod" near Guildford Station for those in need of a quick fix before hopping on a train or on the way to work.