Whether fueling their caffeine dependence, partaking in an established daily ritual or simply craving to purchase a beverage or snack, college students are notorious for loving coffee. Hopkins is no exception, with students seemingly carrying around cups of coffee and tea wherever you look. My three months here have been marked by the daily excitement of rewarding myself with a beverage (currently obsessing over lavender and dirty chai lattes) or a snack from one of our on-campus cafes.
Despite my friends' and my fondness of the cafes here on campus, the prospect of exploring a local coffee shop in Hampden, namely Common Ground Cafe Cooperative, was an exciting breakfast mini-outing. As we entered the cafe, their collection of garnished muffins and croissants — prepared daily and assembled against a clear window — instantly caught our attention. The muffins were massive, and the assortment included a variety of flavors: from classics like blueberry, chocolate chip and chocolate to the cafe’s own devised flavors of cappuccino, brownie and white chocolate pecan cranberry.
As we continued to examine the display of food, my stomach grumbled at the sight of the assortment of their fluffy golden-hued croissants, which included both sweet (chocolate, almond and butter) and savory (ham and cheese) options. After looking at the grand assortment of breakfast and brunch options, we settled on sampling the blueberry muffin, the white chocolate pecan cranberry muffin, the almond croissant, the meat quiche and the egg sandwich. We also ordered some coffee and other beverages.
The cozy interior is filled with vintage red couches, dim lighting and calming music, which is contrasted against the bustling aura of regulars buying their daily coffee. It creates a welcoming and inviting environment, perhaps serving as a precursor to a happy morning. From royal velvet couches to sparkling fairy lights on the brick walls and miscellaneous gorgeous paintings (my personal favorite was one of a pink cartoon worm playing the piano), the atmosphere of the restaurant was retro, yet chic.
During my time there, most people just picked up a coffee and left. But, I would recommend — if you have the time — sitting and enjoying a quick meal and coffee. We loved all of the food and left the restaurant satisfied with full stomachs. The fluffy and buttery almond croissant, filled with a sweet nutty paste and garnished with almonds, was delicious and is absolutely a top recommendation.
For those with a sweet tooth, Common Ground Cafe Cooperative’s freshly made muffins taste as delicious as they appear (beware, they are so filling); the fresh taste of the blueberries coupled with the crust of sugar layered on top led to one of the best blueberry muffins I have ever eaten. As strange as the combination of the white chocolate pecan cranberry muffin sounds, the combination of these flavors was ultimately very satisfying and enjoyable. Several of the muffins had gluten-free or vegan options, making the restaurant appealing to those with dietary restrictions or preferences. The mini-quiche (which looked adorable) was also heavenly, with a perfect balance between egg and breading.
The iced coffee itself was rich and smooth, and its $5.50 price for a 20 oz cup is not overly expensive. Though the texture and quality of the iced latte were solid, the one complaint we had was that the latte was a bit too watery and lacked intense flavor. For non-coffee drinkers, hot chocolate is a safe and delicious choice, and personally, the masala chai was my favorite beverage. It was rich with flavor and spices and complemented our chosen pastries. Furthermore, though several of the items on the menu were not necessarily cheap, such as the $4.50 muffins, the size and quality of the beverages and pastries, in my opinion, made the price worth it.
Despite my desire to explore the other boutiques and coffee shops in the area, I already have a list of food and beverages to try next when I go to Common Ground Cafe Cooperative: the apple hot coffee, matcha latte, vanilla chai, avocado toast, breakfast biscuit and more. So, especially as the end of classes and finals approach, go to Common Ground Cafe Cooperative for a study break or breakfast trip, and begin your day brightly with a homemade muffin and coffee!