Wednesday, October 1, 2014

@ Common Grounds in Cleveland's Kamm's Corners

I know plenty of people who drink coffee after night fall--my boyfriend and editor Matt Sellers being one of them--and this week's Hold The Coffee post dives into a west side coffee shop that best serves this audience. I say that because Common Grounds doesn't close... ever. At least that's what the 24/7 sign conveys. I can't say I've tested the place for holiday hours.

Caitlin Fertal in her natural pose. Avril Lavigne, 
eat your heart out.
My friend and former News-Herald colleague Caitlin Fertal has been telling me about Common Gound in the Kamm's Corner neighborhood since I launched this blog in November 2013. This past month, we scheduled two meet-ups at the coffee shop at 17104 Lorain Ave., in Cleveland. One during a Sunday afternoon, Aug. 31, and then a Thursday night visit,  Sept. 25. I wasn't crazy on the idea of driving 30 minutes east to grab a drink of coffee at night, but Cailtin was adamant that I see the nighttime side of this atypical coffee shop. It's like Batman: innocent and quiet by day and vigilantly quirky by night. 

Location: This past summer was the first time I had ever visited Kamm's Corner, and much like its only coffee shop, the neighborhood is a very different place before and after sun-down. On my Sunday afternoon visit, the neighborhood was very quiet and relatively dead except for the farmer's market situated behind a Walgreens on Lorain Avenue. Although I prefer quiet neighborhoods, I wasn't impressed with the neighborhood's lack of mixed-use buildings, and its wide roadways. I was impressed, however, with the Walgreen's lack of a frontal parking lot.

The nightlife scene at Common Grounds.
On my Thursday night visit, I saw a different side of the neighborhood--one that I can only best articulate as a college-town feel.

All of the 20- and 30-year-olds were afoot that Thursday at the neighborhood's selection of sports bars, biker bars, divorced-dad bars, Mexican-themed bars and the most special bar of all... Chipotle.

Serving caffeine in absence of alcohol, Common Grounds adds a quirky dimension to Kamm's Corners' nightlife scene. It also allows law-abiding adults under 21 to do something while their older friends get trashed.

Food and Beverage: Common Grounds does not serve decaf coffee... ever. I know some people--mostly Matt--thinks decaf coffee is an abomination, but I find it as a necessary compromise for coffee shop patrons. I mean, the only thing worse than seeing me drunk at night is seeing me caffeinated at night. (Caitlin and her friend Andrew, who joined us Thursday, can attest to this.)

Common Grounds uses thick, non-decorative, Styrofoam
cups. It's like they're not even trying.  
The shop's menu is full of signature coffee beverages with wacky names. Some of them include "Dirty Girl Scout," "Caffeine Orgasm," "Raspberry Bitch Kiss," "Crazed Englishman," "The Warchief" and "Cafe Voltaire." All of them cost $5 each. Common Grounds is doing to coffee what the craft beer movement is doing to beer: serving a staple beverage with a revitalized experience.

I considered ordering one of the signature drinks during my Thursday night visit, but I only had $4 in my wallet and the baristas only accept cash.

Instead, I ordered flavored brew coffee both during my Sunday afternoon and Thursday night visit.

Common Grounds offers pastries, but if you want to fill an empty stomach, you're best walking to one of the neighborhood's bars or restaurants... or Chipotle, like Caitlin and I did on Sunday.

Common Grounds has some incredible anime-club-themed
chalk art. But what's more important is that the coffee
shop is hosting a Super Smash Bros 3DS launch party
this weekend. Too bad I didn't reserve my copy in
advance and I will be in Mount Vernon then.
Space and Atmosphere: Common Grounds' space is a mix between a modern coffee shop and the furnished basement bedroom of your 25-year-old friend who hasn't separated from his parents yet. (I say that with most positive meaning.) Common Grounds' interior includes black and dark purple walls, floor and ceiling, Christmas lights and small ceiling light fixtures, and has two pinball machines near the entrance. (It also has a television in the back used for playing console video games. Ground breaking idea!)

At the same time, the coffee shop has a glass facade to allow plenty of natural light during day-time hours, and has plenty of compelling art decorated around the walls. It also has WiFi, which was used plentifully by patrons both days I visited.

If there was such a thing as an alternative coffee shop, Common Grounds would fit that category. It is gritty unassumingly without breaking any health code violation or law. It's a shame that I've never really heard much about the place in all of the Cleveland coffee shop guidebooks I've read online. Truthfully, if it wasn't for Caitlin, I probably would still not know the name Common Grounds.

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

1 comment:

  1. Even I myself drink a lot of coffee, I mean can't live without it I have seen people who just love tea but I don't like it at all.