I first visited Common Grounds coffee shop back in August with my husband, Geoff. I got the heads up from Darrin Romp of Hampshire Real Bread. I had posted about a recent visit to BBvegan at Drapers Yard in Chichester on Instagram and he messaged me saying that his doughnuts were also available there fortnightly on a Saturday or at Common Grounds coffee shop which he thoroughly recommended, on a Wednesday and a Saturday – neither day is a good day for me as I’m usually out in the countryside cycling on those days.
I’d not heard of Common Grounds before, they opened just over a year ago in July 2018. Whenever I visit Chi I tend to head to Coffee Lab but my last few visits there have been slightly disappointing.
At Common Grounds Geoff and I didn’t notice anything else to eat apart from cake so we just had a coffee each and a slice of very nice, fresh and moist blueberry sponge cake with a creamy topping.
On my second visit, which was only last week, I cycled over there with a map (held between my teeth) of how to get from The Cross in Chichester to Little London (where the coffee shop is) by bike. It’s a bit of a zigzag with one-way streets and I took a wrong turn somewhere but luckily I recognised where I was. Opposite the shop are some bicycle racks, which was excellent as from the window I could watch my bike.
I ordered a cortado and a raspberry & white chocolate muffin. A much needed bottle of water was placed on my table too. The cafe is fairly small with seating for only around 12 (14 maybe at a push). Everything is available to take-away though.
Common Grounds is close to the Little London car park and toilets. If you go down East Street from the Cathedral, turn left at Marks and Spencers into St. Martin’s Street, past the side of M&S, turn right, walk straight through the car park and out the other side, they are just on your left opposite A-Plan Insurance – there’s a map at the end of this blog post.
This week I made arrangements to meet my friend, Linda at the shop at 11.30. We both had to catch up on our cycling holidays in Italy. Geoff and I had recently ridden L’Eroica with vintage bicycles and clothing in the Chianti Classico region whereas Linda had cycled in the south of Italy on a cycle-touring holiday.
I messaged Common Grounds to ask if they thought there would be any doughnuts left by that time and if not, could I cheekily ask if they’d put two by for me please. They came back pretty quick with a reply and told me the flavours they had available. Jam, salted caramel, Biscoff, apple & cinnamon. I then quickly texted Linda to ask her which she wanted and got back to Common Grounds to let them know. Very kind of them. I didn’t want to go all the way over there and not get a doughnut.
When we got there it was packed and there were no free tables but two very kind gentlemen offered up their seats, saying they were just leaving. Phew.
I ordered a flat white and had chosen the Biscoff doughnut. Linda had a black coffee with milk and a salted caramel doughnut. We chat chat chatted away before digging into them. I wanted to savour mine and didn’t want anything to spoil the experience.
Linda went first and in the centre there was lots of salted caramel, on top was a chunk of Crunchie. I cut into mine and shock horror, no filling! Whaaaat! At first I was disappointed – and had food envy, I’m not going to lie – but, I must admit there really was plenty of Biscoff spread and crumbled Biscoff biscuit on top plus some icing, so it didn’t really need a filling. The doughnuts were light, fluffy and so fresh. I took two home, one for Helen and one for Geoff. I bought the jam one for Geoff, as he likes simple things. Sadly it could have done with a little more jam filling.
After a while we thought we’d have a sandwich as we’d seen others having them and they looked rather nice. As I mentioned previously, I didn’t realise that they did sandwiches, there’s nothing saying that they do, apart from seeing them inside the display cabinet and writing on the glass which was quite hard to see.
They had four choices: chorizo, Emmental & red pepper; mushroom, Emmental & spinach; parma ham, Emmental & tomato chilli chutney and roasted vegetable, mozzerella & pesto.
We both enjoyed our sandwiches, the roasted veg and a mushroom one which were warmed so the cheese melted making it stringy. With this Linda had a pot of tea which came with a little tea timer and I went for something totally different, a beetroot chai. They suggested having it made with coconut milk as it makes it a little sweeter and it had some sort of spice (I forget which) and star anise which gave it a lovely liquorice taste.
With the low ceiling (perhaps?) or just because it is a very small space we did find it very noisy indeed. It probably didn’t help that there was a group of four ladies in there and another couple too, all with rather loud voices and laughs. Eventually they all left and thankfully it was much quieter.
We both used their loos, one after the other and were commenting on how nice they were. Very clean, tidy and no toilet roll holder half hanging off the wall etc., Funnily enough a gentleman came out of them just after us and as he was leaving mentioned to the staff about how nice the toilets were, so we had a good conversation outside with him and his family about them.
As I was walking back to the car I came across a friend and his wife. After a quick chat I told them about Common Grounds and explained how to get there. I texted him later to ask if they went and he said they did, they both had a very nice coffee and cake.
Helen asked me if it was worth a trip to Chichester – she’s envious as she’s yet to visit – and I said yes, yes it was (with or without doughnuts but even more so with, of course.) Common Grounds is, in my opinion, the best (and friendliest) place to go in Chichester for coffee.
Value – 7
Quality – 8
Return? Yes, yes, yes!
Living life, loving coffee and doughnuts!