Melbourne is a caffeinated town. It’s home to some of the best cafes – and best coffee – around. For some of us, coffee is merely fuel. For others, it’s a considered $4 that couldn’t be better spent.
Sasha Krivitsky and Jacqui Alexander are the father-and-daughter team behind Common Ground in Ormond, a new coffee house comprising a roastery, a coffee bar and a retail area devoted to the art of creating interesting coffee. Although they officially opened their doors to the public in early 2013, Krivitsky began roasting Common Ground’s beans nearly a year ago, working hard behind the scenes to give customers the most informed coffee experience possible.
While Krivitsky looks after the sourcing and roasting, Alexander is responsible for the brand, using experience and expertise garnered from working in the fashion, marketing and design industries. Both father and daughter have always had an affinity with good coffee and good company.
Krivitsky developed his love for coffee while living in Italy, after leaving his native Russia. “They left Russia with nothing,” Alexander says, “and Dad was knocking on doors looking for work. He ended up getting a job at a roastery and learned the craft there.”
Eventually arriving in Australia, Krivitsky began working in the apparel industry, but his interest in coffee and roasting continued to brew for two decades, manifesting as a passion project until 2012, when he decided to immerse himself in it full-time.
Krivitsky’s highly considered approach is evident in almost every aspect of Common Ground, where he spends months sourcing and roasting the perfect beans and flavours that the team hope communicate a story, as well as deliver a delicious coffee.
Common Ground takes a small-batch, artisanal approach to roasting in their Probat roaster, believing it brings out the best flavours in the beans. This means that Krivitsky is able to choose the variety of beans that he finds most interesting and create a list based on the coffee that he loves. The list is a reflection of his tastes and knowledge, part of the benefit of being a small and independent operation.
“From a product side of things, it means the coffee has to taste like something,” Alexander says. “It has to be full of flavour; it has to make you think about it. What we want to make is the antithesis of fuel – something that you’ll go out of your way to drink, or that you want to drink on your own.”
Alexander and her dad believe that every coffee has a story – something they’re excited about sharing.
“The Amalfi blend is our house blend,” she explains, “and one of the first my dad made. It’s reminiscent of that European style of coffee. It’s still done in a Melbourne way, but I remember drinking it for the first time and the first word that came to my head was ‘nostalgia’ – it reminds you of another place and time. I almost picture people at the end of the night drinking this coffee. I can see my parents doing than it Europe, my dad drinking it on the street.”
This seems to resonate with the customers at Common Ground, who come in for the conversation and experience, as well as the coffee. The space was never supposed to be a hospitality venue, but as the roasting process began, the smell of coffee drifted onto the street and people streamed in, sitting at the one table that was then in the space.
“We were just making coffees for people, we weren’t charging them. But we’d say ‘come in, sit down, taste this, we’re in the middle of a cupping’ or whatever, and that’s how our coffee bar grew. It really came from a place of people connecting and talking.”
To make room for customers, Common Ground now hosts a large communal table and stools, as well as smaller tables spotted around the bright space. Although ‘roastery’ may conjure up images of dark woods and panels, Common Ground is refreshingly bright. The polished floor, fresh flowers and abundance of natural light make the coffee bar a great place to make your way through the list of blends on offer, accompanied by bagels with jam or pastries and cakes from Il Fornaio (try the passionfruit tart). Common Ground also houses a retail space, so you can pick up beans to take home and talk to the staff about what’s on offer.
“We’ve really loved that interaction with people,” says Alexander. “If I’m down there chatting to someone by our retail wall, they want to try something new and different that they’ve never had before, and that experience is really important to us.”
750 North Road, Ormond
(03) 9578 6973
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm
Sat & Sun 8am–3pm