Common Roots offers uncommon dining experience

By Jane Robinson

When I came in on Friday the soup was a creamy Tomato Basil. The Americano I ordered (espresso and water) was up to par with the typical neuroticism that comes with being a coffee shop employee. The bar staff was friendly, helpful and prompt, and adorned with the appropriate hipster barista attire. There is a new coffee shop in the Twin Cities area. I know, big deal, right? But this isn’t just any coffee shop . . .

After two years of extensive research and visioning Danny Schwartzmann, a Macalester alum and Minnesota native, opened Common Roots Caf. Inspired by his experiences in political activism and his commitment to sustainability, Common Roots Caf with a unique mission-bringing the story behind the food to the customer and creating a space for a community organizing.

“We are trying to use local and organic food that is affordable and accessible to a wide range of people,” said Schwartzmann. “We also have a community meeting space that serves as a hub for all people to meet. I think we have some really good resources for non-profits.”

In addition to these commitments, sustainability is incorporated into many aspects of Common Roots. The building in which Common Roots now locates was remodeled using environmentally-friendly materials and day-old bagels are turned into the caf’s signature bagel chips.

Common Roots Caf offers a tasty selection of sandwiches, handmade soups and salads, as well as the traditional espresso bar selection and a variety of Peace Coffees.

After finding a suitable table and downing my soup, I opened my laptop and began writing this article, blending in easily with the other patrons typing on their computers, reading the occasional book, or scribbling away in trendy journals.

The space is open and well lit, with large windows and high ceilings. Tables are appropriately spaced so that the chatty group sharing a beer sampler offer pleasant rather that distracting background noise to the solo worker or newspaper reader. There is certainly no grunge appeal; the caf leans more towards the clean space atmosphere.

What sets Common Roots caf apart from similar coffee venues is its dedication to locally-grown food, its use of Peace Coffee, and its Common Room, where non-profit and community organizations such as book clubs or volunteer groups can schedule free meetings.

All of the food, napkins and leftovers in the caf can are able to be composted in a Eureka Recycling trash bin. The two bathrooms are non-gendered and all coffee and espresso drinks are fair-trade.

Is Common Roots Caf a reason in and of itself to come down to the Lynlake area? Maybe. The coffee, food and people watching, mostly trendy youngsters, provide good incentives. The late hours (open until midnight on weekends) and fun neighborhood make it a good place to wrap up a movie night or outing in the Minneapolis area.

Common Roots Caf is definitely a place worthwhile of your work-study check. Going to Common Roots Caf is about more than getting a great cup of coffee. It’s about supporting a shop that’s committed to sustainability, escaping the “Mac bubble,” and seeing new faces. It’s about getting out there and seeing what the cities have to offer, one cup of coffee at a time.