First impressions are great. There is easy access from the street, up a ramp, through wide doors and plenty of space to reach the counter or manoeuvre around chairs and tables.
The floor is a mix of wood and slate laminate; there is a mix of seating from banquet to bar stools, sofas to armchairs. The interior has internal walls with cut out peep-holes and the exterior is double aspect with large picture windows, some at street level. My companion remarked that it was like a pavement café, but inside.
If you like to have a drink while watching the world go by then this is probably the best coffee shop in Guildford, even if the view is sullied by cardboard boxes awaiting collection.
Sadly the coffee was disappointing. Caffè Nero has a reputation for serving the most authentic espresso-based coffee, but on this occasion we found our Americanos, one black, one white, to be rather weak.
The festive mince pie was tasty with firm pastry, but it was straight from the chiller with no offer to warm it up.
The other coffee drinkers were mixed: solo shoppers, pushchairs, suits, the young, the older, small groups of friends.
It’s a chain, and we’ve reviewed Nero’s before. The coffee is still £2.05 for a regular Americano. The mince pie was £1.95 (eat in). One coffee was free with a full loyalty stamp card.
My friend initially said that the new Caffè Nero was “the best coffee shop I’ve been to in a long time”. However, after tasting the coffee, visiting the loo (not the tidiest) and hearing the intrusive piped music that interrupted our conversation with a jolt, she tempered her enthusiasm.
Dragon verdict: great potential, but a few teething problems.