Tell me about your favorite café. And no, I don’t mean the Starbucks drive-thru that you hit up on the way to work. In my mind, a true café transports you to another city, town, or even world, providing a brief escape from reality. I am talking about a place that smells of steaming espresso and warm scones. It’s a place where people stop in and stay for awhile, just to read a good book or catch up with friends. It’s a place where the baristas view their work as a craft and a joy, and are eager to greet customers when they stop in.
When I traveled in Europe, cafés in cities like Paris and Budapest always took me to that faraway place. But as U.S. citizen, I have to settle for the next best thing. In my area, that would be known as Commonwealth in Birmingham. Commonwealth opened four years ago, and has now become a popular breakfast and lunch spot for business-folk, families, and the like.
Commonwealth serves a variety of coffees, in addition to speciality coffee drinks. The “C” Latte is my absolute favorite, and I had to recently force myself to try something new. The “C” Latte is basically heaven in a cup – it’s the perfect amount of steamed milk, espresso, and sweetness, and the baristas always add a special touch with latte art.
In addition to being experts on coffee and beverage-crafting, Commonwealth offers amazing breakfast, brunch, and lunch items. Their menu is ever-changing with new, fresh dishes popping up regularly.
Commonwealth has everything from poached eggs to a tandoori chicken salad. I especially enjoy their breakfast items, such as the fried egg sandwich, which consists of two eggs over-easy, topped with cheddar, tomato, guac, and just the right amount of hot sauce, cushioned beneath two warm slices of Dakota multigrain bread, served with a side salad (a nice touch).
Their baked goods are all homemade according to Alexander, a friendly employee who has worked at Commonwealth since “the beginning.” He says that everything is made fresh – from the food, to the specialty beverages. As I ordered my Chai latte today, Alexander mentioned that Commonwealth makes its own Chai in-house. Watch out corporate coffee chains – your artificial flavors and ingredients don’t even stand a chance here.
Another great quality about Commonwealth is that it is small and intimate. Magazines line the wall as you enter, allowing you to feel right at home. As I commented on the quaintness factor, Alexander noted that sometimes it gets “crazy” when the crowds rush in, and he is eager for the store’s upcoming expansion (so keep an eye out)!
If you’re looking for a little escape in your hometown, or simply want your New Year’s resolution to be, “drink better coffee,” make sure to stop in at Commonwealth the next time you’re in Birmingham. Also check out their Detroit location in the Shinola store.
Readers, tell me about your favorite little coffee place! Share with me on Facebook, send me a Tweet, or post on Instagram and tag @coneysandkale. Thanks for reading, and get ready for a food-filled 2015 with C&K!
Price range: $11-30
Location: 300 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, 48009
Hours: Mon.- Fri. 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sat – Sun. 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Phone: (248) 792-9766 *No reservations. Their current size isn’t great for big groups (2-4 is probably ideal)
View their menu here!