09 July 2018

The Oxford Caffeine Chronicles: Common Ground

In the heart of Oxford's hip Jericho neighbourhood, Little Clarendon Street certainly earns our family's nickname for it: Little Trendy Street. A short walk north of the historic city centre, the street — along with Walton Street, which joins it at its western end — has long since been home to a collection of independent shops and eateries, from the first branch of beloved ice cream bar G and Ds, to funky homewares store Central Living.

And now Little Trendy Street has a speciality coffee spot too. But Common Ground Workspace is more than just a coffee shop: it's also a co-working space and community hub. The large blackboard near the entrance detailed activities as varied as a barista skills class, a bike maintenance class, a crafting workshop and a ping pong tournament. They opened in the spring as a pop-up, but more than three months later, they are still going strong.

Inside, it's a spacious affair, with plenty of mismatched furniture, from well-loved, if comfortable, sofas to large communal tables and even an old saddle atop a tall wooden desk. Sitting on the counter, the Victoria Arduino Athena Leva espresso machine, with its vintage appearance and historical credentials, is perfectly in keeping with the rest of the d├ęcor.

The coffee itself is from the Bristol-based Clifton Coffee Roasters. As they (technically, at least) a pop-up, they only have disposable cups so do try to bring your own — or you can buy one of the rCUPs available for sale. Luckily, the barista was able to rustle up a small glass for my piccolo. There were some Brazilian single-origin beans in the hopper and, as always, it was a pleasure to watch the lever espresso machine in action. The menu features mainly espresso-based coffee drinks (there aren't, at the time of writing, any filter coffee options available); they also serve iced coffee and espresso tonic.

I took my piccolo and its impressive latte art to one of the low coffee tables in front of the counter. An old draughts board was set up with milk bottle lids as the counters, but I didn't have time for a game. The coffee was very well brewed and I enjoyed a few moments of peace and quiet before heading back out into bustling Jericho.

Common Ground Workspace. 37–38 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX1 2HF. WebsiteFacebook.

For more Oxford coffee suggestions, please check out my Oxford speciality coffee guide and Oxford coffee map.

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