I’m visiting family in the States over Christmas. Although I’ve already written (in Spanish) about my home state of Ohio, I didn’t only live in Ohio in the days before I moved to Spain. I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a double major in journalism and Spanish (surprisingly, UK has one of the best Hispanic Studies programs in the States.) My mom is from Kentucky but lived most of her life in Ohio, and so I grew up believing that UK was on the level of Harvard, the Sorbonne or Oxford.
But we did beat the University of Louisville 58-50 this week, which is like Barcelona winning 4-2 over the evil Real Madrid.
During my uni and post-uni years, I spent all too much time and money sipping French kisses (vanilla lattes) and zebra mochas (a mix of white chocolate and milk chocolate mochas) as I studied for exams, read one of the 29382938298382 books on my never-ending to-read list, or worked on my novels (one day they will be published) at an amazing little coffee house known as Common Grounds.
The US has a major coffee culture with Starbucks conquering the world as if it were Hernán Cortés in the “New World”. While I will admit Starbucks has some tasty drinks, I would much prefer to support local places. In Spain, while I have been in Starbucks in all four of the major cities (airports don’t count Gran Canaría and Mallorca) where they are located (Madrid, Barcelona, València and Sevilla), I would much prefer to spend less money on a better café con leche at a local Spanish establishment. I will not admit how many skinny peppermint mochas I have drunk this trip to the States.
I have visited a lot of coffee houses, coffee shops and cafés around the States and world, and my favourite to this day is Common Grounds. They serve fair trade and generally have some of the best baristas I have ever encountered. On the weekends, they tend to have live music, and every Monday is open-mike night, where anyone who feels they have the talent can get up to perform a song or read poetry as if they were Phoebe Buffay at Central Perk on Friends. They were one of the first places to offer wireless internet (now wifi) in the early 00s. It is the one thing I miss about Lexington, Kentucky (other than being in a university in general.)
Basically…if you’re ever in Lexington, be sure to take a detour to High Street close to downtown and the UK Campus to check out Common Grounds. They also have new locations around town, but I prefer the original recipe.