By Sarah Christian Choate, Contributing Writer
From the fields to the roaster to the package, coffee goes on a global expedition to make it to your favorite mug. Sophomore Hunter Hebenstreit, an Adventure Leadership major with a minor in Missions, believes in the power of coffee to create community across cultures and around the world. For this reason, he founded the Common Grounds Collective, a group of young, coffee-loving creatives who hope to share community, one cup at a time through online blog posts.
The Common Grounds Collective, at its current stage, is a blog site. The members of the Collective alternate in posting daily articles concerning coffee culture. There are 16 members and counting from all over the United States – currently there are Collective members in Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, California and New York, just to name a few. The Collective members cover a variety of topics; they review specific coffee roasts or shops, tell stories about their personal coffee experiences, share coffee-inspired poems, discuss the politics and process of coffee and much more.
“The overall goal is to unite people through coffee,” said Hebenstreit. “We see coffee as a bonding agent that can bring people together and strengthen relationships of people all over the world.” Hebenstreit’s long-term goal is to open a coffee shop and roastery/ministry hybrid. He believes that coffee is not too small a thing for God to work through.
“I think coffee matters because not only does it taste good, but it really does bring people together,” said Hebenstreit. “It has a global impact. Coffee is not something that’s just big here in the United States; coffee is a global thing.” Hebenstreit went on to say that anytime he buys coffee from some of his favorite roasters, such as Counter Culture Coffee, he is not only supporting that roaster, but also supporting the farmers in some of the developing countries where that coffee is grown. “[Coffee] really does cross boundaries because so many people of all trades and nationalities love coffee,” said Hebenstreit.
Before coming to Asbury, Hebenstreit was working toward becoming a field biologist and pursuing a degree in wildlife biology. Ever since he was a kid he had wanted to work with animals in this capacity. However, Hebenstreit said that he came to a place where he realized that this desire did not line up with what God has in store for his life. “The past year has been me having no idea what I was doing,” said Hebenstreit. “I had to get to a point where I was totally OK with not knowing where God was going to take me…that’s when this whole coffee thing started happening,” he said. “I really feel like I’m on the right track.”
Since starting the Common Grounds Collective, Hebenstreit has found a significant amount of success. Several roasters have shipped coffee samples Hebenstreit’s way so that he might review them on the Collective’s blog. “Clearly, I’ve made it,” Hebenstreit joked. “That’s how you know you’ve made it, when people start sending you free coffee.”
To those who might be interested in diving into the coffee culture, Hebenstreit has some advice: “The number one way to get involved is to drink more coffee,” he said. He encourages those new to the coffee community to try new things and learn more about the industry. “It can be overwhelming because there is so much to learn,” he said. “That’s one of the things I like about it, because there’s really no end to how much you can learn about coffee.”
Whether you are the most cultured of coffee connoisseurs or are brand new to coffee, the Common Grounds Collective has something for you. Keep up with them through their WordPress blog (https://commongroundscollective.wordpress.com) and through their Instagram (@commongroundscollective). In between posts, join the Collective in uniting the world, one cup at a time.