Coffee kiosk to celebrate grand opening

Co-owners Jason and Jenny Bourque stand in front of their new booth, Common Grouds Coffee House, in the FedEx building on Court Street. (DUSTIN LENNERT | Picture Editor)

A new Uptown coffee shop hopes to keep Court Street caffeinated by providing coffee drinkers with on-the-go convenience and quality beans.

Common Grounds Coffee House, located at 5 N. Court St. inside the FedEx building, is the second coffee shop for owners Jason and Jenny Bourque. The couple moved from Carbondale, Ill., where their first shop is located, to Athens about a year and a half ago to help start Brookfield Church.

Because of their familiarity with the property — the Brookfield Church is housed in the same building — the Bourques saw an opportunity to expand their coffee business.

Despite the name, the coffee house is actually a 60 sq. ft. kiosk designed primarily to serve “coffee on-the-go.”

Common Grounds has been open for about six weeks, but Jason and Jenny will celebrate its grand opening Tuesday by offering $1 drinks.

Common Grounds Coffee House brews Americano coffee “one cup at a time” with prices ranging from about $2 to $5. Customers have a variety of iced, blended and hot coffee drinks and smoothies to choose from including their specialty: the Common Grounds Mocha.

“We are unique from the other coffee shops because we don’t serve drip-brew coffee,” Jenny said. “Anything we make is coming straight out of our espresso machine so it’s like you’re getting your own cup of coffee. We want our customers to have a great quality drink each time they come to see us.”

Before opening their first store, both Jason and Jenny were far from coffee connoisseurs. After doing some research on the industry and finding a location “in need of a coffee shop,” the Bourques opened their first Common Grounds Coffee House in October 2005.

“We went from not even brewing coffee in our own house to opening our own coffee storefront,” Jason said. “My only concern when it came to coffee is that I wanted it black and not burnt.”

The owners enlisted Crimson Cup Coffee, a coffee roaster and business consultant located in Columbus, Ohio, to make their business idea a reality. Described as “a franchise without all the franchise fees and costs,” the owners plan to spend $2,000 to $2,500 per month on the wholesaler’s coffee, paper goods and other marketing materials.

“We opened this shop with a quick, stop-by-on-the-go style in mind,” Jason said. “Although our customers are going to be looking for convenience over atmosphere, we want to be as inviting as a kiosk possibly can be.”

Grounds Coffee House will join Court Street Coffee as the second Uptown coffee shop to serve Crimson Cup. To deter from becoming possible business rivalries, both shops “came to an understanding” before Common Grounds Coffee House opened.

“I think there are enough differences between what we hope to accomplish and what they already do,” Jason said. “In a college town with more than 20,000 students, there’s really not enough competition.”

Jessica Peck, a junior studying communication sciences and disorders and Russian, thinks the accessible character of Common Grounds Coffee House will attract students.

“During the week when you don’t have a lot of time and you’re feeling rushed or stressed, the option for a quick coffee on the go is really appealing,” Peck said. “If it can pass my personal test of being affordable, tasty and quick, I might start getting my coffee at Common Grounds Coffee.”

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