Attention, cafe lovers: Common Ground is officially back open for business at its new location. Situated in a cozy brick building right off of the Avenue in Hampden, Common Ground serves coffee, baked goods and sandwiches. With plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors on its spacious patio, this cafe provides the perfect setting to enjoy a quiet morning or spend a relaxing afternoon with friends.
When you enter the cafe, try not to let the well-stocked pastry case distract you as you head straight back to the register to place your order. Common Ground offers a comprehensive drink menu, including drip coffee, a full espresso bar, iced and hot teas, canned beverages (local kombucha!) and even smoothies. They source their beans locally from Zeke’s Coffee, a roaster based in Baltimore, and whole and ground beans are available for purchase by the pound to brew at home.
To drink, I ordered a cafe au lait with oat milk (they offer almond milk, too) and brought it outside to enjoy on the patio. The coffee was a bit pricey, coming out to cost more than what I pay at Bird in Hand for the same drink. That being said, though, it was delightful; the coffee was flavorful and the milk was steamed just right. Next time I visit, I’d like to try the vegan masala chai, a milky, tea-based drink that originates in India.
Feeling hungry after the walk to Hampden? Common Ground has you covered. If you’re looking for a snack or something sweet, it sells an assortment of baked goods made daily in house, including several vegan and gluten-free options. The baked goods are big enough to share and reasonably priced, so I recommend bringing a friend or two and splitting a couple of treats.
When I visited, Common Ground had several types of muffins, croissants, scones and cookies available. These were in addition to some more decadent pastries like eclairs, profiteroles and even macarons, though the offerings change daily. I sampled the raspberry lemon scone; it was perfectly sweet and the flavors came through without being overbearing. I’m tempted to go back to try their homemade toffee chocolate chip cookies, sold in a pack of two and ideal for sharing alongside a hot cup of coffee.
If you’re craving something savory, the menu also features many types of bread and bagels. Pair them with a spread of your choice: butter, (vegan!) cream cheese, jam, peanut butter, Nutella or hummus. For a full lunch, try one of their sandwiches; they serve both hot and cold options and cater to all diets. The couple sitting next to me, self-proclaimed regular customers, reported that the “adult grilled cheese,” made with three types of cheese and tomato, and the BLT with avocado are their favorite items on the menu.
For vegans, I recommend the roasted vegetable panini. It comes on toasted ciabatta and boasts a thick layer of hummus. Plus, if you’re avoiding gluten, most sandwiches can be made on gluten-free bread instead; you just have to ask.
Because Common Ground opened its new location just two months ago, be patient with the service. The friendly and attentive staff seemed slightly overwhelmed when I visited on a busy Sunday, though I expect that to improve as they work out the kinks over time. Despite the wait, though, I was pleased to see so many people (and dogs) coming and going throughout the afternoon, hinting at a bright future for this new local eatery as the weather turns.
All in all, I recommend Common Ground both as a coffee shop and as a casual lunch spot. Located right in nearby Hampden, it takes only about 20 minutes to walk over and is within the range of the Blue Jay Shuttle. Common Ground is a lovely place to spend an afternoon with friends or with a book, offering food and beverage options that accommodate all dietary preferences. While the prices are a bit high given its casual vibe, midterm season is upon us and you deserve to treat yourself to something nice. So take a study break, grab a friend or two and head down to Common Ground to unwind with coffee and a treat.
Correction: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Common Ground sources their coffee beans from Washington, D.C.
The News-Letter regrets this error.