Are you looking for a place to meet with a friend, hold a community meeting or pause for a great cup of coffee? There is just such a place on Emory Street, just before you enter Oxford -- the Common Ground Coffee House.
Common Ground is housed in a refurbished home that was originally built in 1925. It opened in January of this year. It is next door to the Connexion Church of North Covington. The church operates the coffee house. But when you stop by for a cup of coffee or to meet a friend, it is the same as any coffee house. It is a non-profit and any profit supports the mission work of the Connexion Church. On each table there are “salt bowls” where you can donate your change if you wish to help fight hunger.
You will find on the menu coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, Chai Tea Latte as well as cold drinks. You can also order hot chocolate and tea. To munch on with your coffee or tea, you will find muffins, bagels, biscotti and gluten-free sweet bread.
Common Ground has three meeting rooms that can be reserved at no cost. There are four Bible Study Groups that meet there now as well as community groups such as the Rails to Trails group.
The day I stopped by there were several people taking advantage of the free wi-fi for customers. This is a community service that is offered by Common Ground. It can become a virtual office space for those that need it.
The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Then on Thursday through Saturday the hours expand to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Common Ground is closed on Sunday.
Local talent is featured on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. Recently there was a movie on the lawn and when the weather cools down and it gets darker a little earlier there will be more movie nights offered. Also, you will find trivia nights and at times an open mike.
I discovered there was a community garden out back of the coffee house. The vegetables being harvested now are okra, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. This idea came from one of the “regulars” and volunteers from the coffee house and community tend the garden. These fresh vegetables are a great addition to those dependent on food banks. The food available there is often can goods and dry food. Also back of the coffee house is a playground for the families of the community to use.
I stopped by the other morning and shared some time and a cup of coffee with the Rev. Andrew Covington, the founding pastor of the Connexion Church. He shared that the goal of the coffee house is to serve the community. While sponsored by the church, it is independent of the church.
Another group that the coffee house seeks to draw are the students from nearby Oxford College of Emory University. I have learned from my grandchildren that the modern coffee house is a popular place for not only meeting fellow students, but as a place to write papers and research on the internet.
The coffee was great. I would highly recommend it. Common Ground uses coffee from the Safe House roaster in Griffin, GA. Safe House is another non-profit. It uses Fair Trade Coffee which means all the growers involved in the process get a fair price. It is freshly delivered every week.
Coffee houses have grown in popularity recently. While there are national and international chains, the heart of the growth has been found in local, stand-alone coffee houses. Covington recently lost the Square Perk but we now have Common Ground.
Coffee houses began to appear in Europe in the 17th century. In the latter part of that century, coffee houses began to multiply in London. They were an alternate to the Public House or Pub. They were meeting places for writers and artist. In the US. Coffee houses were found first in large cities near large immigrant communities. In the late fifties the idea began to spread across our nation. By the 1960’s, it was part of the American folk music revival featuring stars such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Seattle became known for being the center of a thriving coffee house scene.
They are a place for community.
Common Ground is next door to Connexion Church. This is the third location for this congregation. The first was at the Peachtree Academy, then the Wesley Chapel at Covington First United Methodist, and now merging with the North Covington United Methodist Church, it is in what is hoped to be its permanent location.
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.