Where to get cof­fee, build com­mu­nity and change the world at the same time?

The Covington News - - LIVING - B. Wi­ley Stephens is a re­tired United Methodist Min­is­ter and au­thor who now re­sides in Cov­ing­ton.

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 gluten­free 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 mic.

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 COLUM­NIST

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