Welcome to the DiscoverNEPA Coffee Club, a series for anyone who loves the smell of freshly roasted beans and the warmth of a steaming mug in their hands. We’re visiting NEPA’s local coffee shops and giving you an inside look at all they have to offer, from handcrafted drinks to cool spaces to work and hang out. Join us and discover your new favorite spot for a caffeine fix.
Inspired by Europe, Based in NEPA
The story behind Common Grounds Caffe starts in Italy, where there’s no shortage of cool, little coffee shops. James Black, a competitive cyclist and owner of Hi-Tech Flooring in Kingston, was racing in Europe when he met a fellow cyclist who ran a coffee roasting business.
Black was a serious coffee drinker. He had some extra space in his flooring business, and now he had a connection with a roaster—why not open up a coffee shop on the side? In 2017, he started Common Grounds Caffe. Since then, it’s become a neighborhood favorite for specialty coffee and delicious breakfasts.
Slow Down & Enjoy
Common Grounds embodies the laid-back feel of a classic coffee shop.
The café has a relaxed, cool vibe, from the string lights hanging from the ceiling to the chill music floating from the stereos. They recently turned one of the flooring showrooms into a lounge area, where there’s plenty of seating and space to hang out. Sure, you could pop in and grab your order from the counter, but if you have a minute, definitely take a break and stay a while.
“It’s the kind of place that you can come in and take a second,” said general manager, Josh Karis. “I always tell the crew, the second a person walks in the door, you know immediately that they’re not concerned with a drive-thru. You can take your time with them. Get to know everybody by name. Get to know a little bit about them. Keep a dialogue going. It’s great.”
Serving Small-Batch, Specialty Roasters
They might be called Common Grounds, but their coffee is anything but ordinary.
Common Grounds supports small roasters—companies where real, passionate people spend hours tinkering around with the roast profile and putting their all into every batch. They’re like the hidden gems of the coffee world.
“We’re trying to offer something that you can’t get anywhere else, like from the grocery store. Something that you can’t make at home,” said Karis.
The house blend is from Mister Collins Coffee Co., the roaster that Black originally met while cycling. The shop gets fresh beans shipped in every week from California.
Hot coffee, plain and simple, is the bestseller, but they also make espresso drinks, iced coffees and more. If you’re not a coffee drinker, they have dozens of teas and smoothies to choose from.
So Simple, But So Delicious
The café serves breakfasts, paninis, baked goods and more.
Take a few basic ingredients, prepare them just right and they become totally irresistible. The menu at Common Grounds has all the essentials like French toast, pancakes, omelets and avocado toast, but the quality takes each dish to a whole new level.
Their breakfast sandwich is one of the most popular items on the menu. It’s a classic combo of egg, cheese and your choice of bacon, sausage or ham. It comes on a soft, fresh-baked roll that’s made just for the café by Something Special Bakery in Kingston.
Common Grounds also has sweets, including cookies from Something Special and energy balls made with peanut butter, oats and honey.
Take a Coffee Break at Common Grounds
This is the kind of place where you can really appreciate everything that goes into your morning coffee.
When you slow down, you realize that every cup of coffee has an incredible journey. It travels thousands of miles and passes through so many hands, from its origins on the coffee farm to the roasting process to the moment when the barista finally hands you your drink. That’s what sets Common Grounds apart—they think about the bigger picture behind every cup, and the care and quality definitely shows.
House Blend – Classic, small-batch coffee from Mister Collins; you won’t find it anywhere else in NEPA
Latte – A cozy blend of espresso and milk; try the seasonal specials or add in a your favorite flavor
CG’s Classic – Breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and your choice of meat on a fresh-baked Kaiser roll
French Toast – Battered sourdough topped with pure maple syrup