Part two in a three-part series about hidden gem locations near campus
By Cassie Gerhardstein
Senior Features Writer
At the intersection of Main Street and Eastern Avenue in downtown Lexington, a little coffee shop on the corner is setting a new standard for the Lexington coffee scene.
A Cup of Commonwealth coffee shop has only been open for a little over two months, but their unique mission statement, sincere customer service and quality coffee have already made them one of the most talked about coffee shops in the Lexington area.
Co-owners Salvador Sanchez and Chris Ortiz met five years ago at an entertainment store in Amarillo, Texas, and have been good friends ever since. Both passionate about coffee and needing a change, the 30-year-olds packed up their stuff and moved to Lexington only four months ago.
“We’re definitely glad we made this choice,” Sanchez said. “The customers have really embraced us.”
Fostering community in downtown Lexington is exactly what they set out to do. The shop’s mission statement is to embrace community, serve others and create culture, and Sanchez and Ortiz are determined to stay true to each word of that ethos.
“We are die-hard about our mission, and I don’t know that a lot of other coffee shops are,” said Sanchez. “Customer service is paramount.”
A Cup of Commonwealth is full service with baristas waiting on tables, offering water and bringing drinks directly to the customer. Rather than focusing on turning over tables, Sanchez and Ortiz are passionate about getting to know each person who comes in.
“Neither one of us ever want to leave, because we don’t want to miss meeting someone for the first time,” Sanchez said.
The founders’ passion comes through in the quality of each drink. From a frothy chai to a premium coffee, Sanchez and Ortiz are picky with their selections and proud of each roast.
The shop’s unique and charming character shows through the mason jars that all cold beverages are served in. However, the most popular feature of this shop is its “pay it forward” board. The idea came from the owners’ time working at Whole Foods, where you could “buy your buddy a beer” in advance.
The coffee version of this gesture consists of pre-paying for a drink of your choice, writing it on a coffee sleeve and pinning it up. Customers then check the board before ordering to see if there’s a specific sleeve with their name on it or any general description that fits them.
For example, someone might write “a premium coffee for a tired undergrad studying for finals.” If that description fits you, then you take the sleeve off the board and turn it in for your “free” drink. In addition to adding character to the shop, the “pay it forward” board has also become a primary advertising tool.
“We didn’t know it would become the huge pay it forward monster it’s become now,” admitted Ortiz.
Besides a social media presence, A Cup of Commonwealth has blossomed solely on word of mouth. It’s these same coffee-drinking mouths that keep coming back and bringing others with them, making A Cup of Commonwealth a vibrant community favorite where anyone can hang out and college kids can use the free wifi to study and do homework.
Although Asbury is a bit of a hike from downtown, Ortiz and Sanchez want Asbury students to join the Cup of Commonwealth community.
“We’d love to meet them,” said Ortiz. “We think we’re fun people to know. So at least come for a high five.”