After a long day of scurrying around Church Street doing errands with my boyfriend and running on fumes I made a stop into a popular cafe right in the heart of downtown. Uncommon Grounds is a well known cafe as it is nestled right on bustling Church Street. It’s one of the more easily accessible shops for people who are new to the area. Anyone who doesn’t know Burlington can find this little cafe and pop in for a cup of coffee. I remember doing so on my first visit to Vermont and it’s one of my personal favorites. It’d been a long while since I’d gone there so giving it another go felt right.
The way the cafe is set up is very personal. It’s a local and family owned business and the owners really want their customers to be able to experience some of that Vermont politeness and connectedness that Burlington is known for. Unlike other cafes you interact with one person. They’ll take your order, make your coffee, and ring you out, allowing you to feel comfortable with the barista. The first time I went I was taken aback by this. Very few cafes will put in the effort to make that connection with their customers but this one does. You walk through the little glass door (passing a little chalk sign full of coffee puns, which I think is nifty) and are welcomed in with brimming smiles. Even if you know nothing about coffee, and I mean absolute minimal knowledge, can’t tell a cappuccino from a latte, the baristas will guide you through with zero judgement. They’re very well trained and you can see the effort that they put in to knowing their products and absolutely love passing that down to people walking through the door. Shyness isn’t necessary here, they want questions.
It being below forty degrees with falling ice on the attack I went with a hot mocha this time around. All a mocha really is is a latte and chocolate syrup so it’d be a good pick-me-up with the sugar and espresso. My boyfriend just got a simple hot latte. Our barista was a very nice bearded guy who got our orders and drinks out in five minutes. The lattes themselves were very pretty, each decorated with a fern and having those tell tale rings of perfectly steamed milk
We decided to walk and drink our coffee as the shop itself has limited seating. This isn’t a cafe where you can go to and expect to get a seat every time. It’s small so a happy handful can manage to sit and chat or do work but not much more than that. If you’re looking for a shop to set up camp for a while with friends or a place to chip away at a final paper this isn’t the place. It’s a good place to learn about different types of coffee as they have featured bean blends allowing for people to get into that aspect of coffee life. It isn’t really a place to hang out though.
Now I’m not a huge fan of hot coffee in general. A nice hot featured roast, black (cause I’m boujee like that) will always make me happy but not always a hot latte. It has to be made just right for me to fully enjoy it. That being said the mocha was not all that great. It was very pretty but the chocolate was drowned out by the espresso and made for a weird, dirt kind of taste and sat on the tongue very heavily. I stirred it up and kept taking sip after sip in hopes that it’d get better but it fell flat white (haha coffee puns). Despite the mocha not being so great I managed to snag a sip of my boyfriend’s latte (despite his protests) and that was very good. The milk was steamed perfectly, yielding a smooth, velvety feeling and the espresso was delicious. Whether it was the type of chocolate in mine or the their recipe I’m not sure but I think sticking with the basics at Uncommon Grounds is the best route.
Overall the cafe is a great place to start to learn about coffee. Their bean roasts are superb and that cafe is one of the few in and around Burlington where they feature different bean blends. For someone interested in blends or someone wanting to learn the difference between a bean grown in South America and one grown in Africa this is the place. The owners love coffee and that reflects in their choices of roast and in the way they train their employees. As a hang out place or a cafe to get that little extra dessert latte I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a great place to stop in and grab an energy boost during a shopping trip. Definitely worth the trip if you enjoy simple coffee.