2171 Cowell Blvd. #F
(Davis Oakshade plaza in South Davis, by Safeway.)
Mon-Fri 6:00AM-9:00PM
Sat-Sun 6:30AM-9:00PM
(530) 792-1781
Son Chong and Michelle Kim
Facebook page

Common Grounds is an independently-owned coffee shop. They provide couches and comfy chairs, as well as free wireless internet (Instaconnect), and tiny rocking chairs for kids. The place looks a lot like "Central Perk" from the TV show Friends, kinda. They serve good coffee, and yummy smoothies, though their chai is not the greatest. People are less inclined to share tables than they are at Mishka's Cafe when it gets packed (as it often is). Though it does have a nice study environment, it closes at 9PM, so it's not for night owls.

Common Grounds also has a good selection of eatables including macaroons, madeleines, brownies, and truffles - the same kind that you will find at Mishka's, formerly made by Vevey Confections, and they accept debit and credit cards for payment unlike many coffee shops around town.

The shop is often nice and cozy, which is awesome for relaxing in the chairs. Big windows make it pretty bright.

They have a bunch of magazines and some books in case you forgot your reading material, but they tend to be limited to 50 copies of "Fit Pregnancy". This is also a Crossing Zone for bookcrossers, so some of the seemingly abandoned books on the shelf are hoping to go home with someone. Check for the label/sticker to see if you've found a traveling book.

The restrooms have been noted to be spacious, clean, well-stocked and well-maintained. They have a monthly drink special which they offer throughout the week between two and six.

"Free" Wifi (through instaconnect)

If you want to use their wifi, you'll need to sign up for something called InstaConnect and they'll give you 30 hours a month of free wifi access, afterwards you gotta pay. Here's their posted instructions:



In 2013, the Florida-based landlord Regency Centers refused to renew Common Ground's lease in order to make room for a pet food store, and possibly a Starbucks drive-through kiosk. Common Grounds was suddenly homeless and it seemed as though the last day open would be Easter Sunday. A change.org petition was started to save the coffee shop. Local dignitaries such as Joe Krovoza and Mariko Yamada joined in the phone call and writing effort. And indeed, Common Grounds was later resurrected; on April 8, the owners posted the following to the business's Facebook page:

Dear Friends, (customers seems insufficient with regards to this matter)

Thanks to your overwhelming support, courage and taking time out of your busy lives to write letters of support we have come to an agreement with the landlord. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve you at our new location adjacent out old location next door! We look forward to welcoming you in three month's time and personally thank you for your support. This would not be possible without your help. Grateful, Son & Michelle.

One Facebook commenter wrote, "The new spot has a patio area on the same side as the patio area for Dos Coyotes. There are more tables (and a fountain) in-between. It should be very nice - more outdoor seating, a better indoor area... Can hardly wait for 3 months!"

If you had heard rumors about some guy — erm — pleasuring himself in public who struck here, be reassured: he was caught in the act by the DPD and arrested in October 2012. He was apparently subtle enough in his manipulations that most people in the packed place didn't even realize what had happened when he was arrested.

Photos (Original Location)

I believe these chairs are no longer. —DavidBarnum

Reviews and comments

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2005-08-19 01:28:33   Is it just me, or is this place under some sort of housefly plague? I love going here for the coffee, free reliable wifi and close proximity to my job, but everytime I go here I get bloody swarmed. —LeightonHinkley

2005-10-14 12:17:37   Good place for some ice coffee. A good place to sit back and read. Flys are bothersome. —EdYap

2005-10-14 17:21:11   Really good white mocha frappe... real whip cream! Mmmm... Nice people too. —ChristyMarsden

2005-10-15 11:42:32   Coffee good. Chai bad. —ArlenAbraham

2005-10-22 07:06:41   best freakin' sugar-free non fat vanilla latte that i've EVER tasted...and the couches are comfy for studying! =) —TereseSantos

2005-10-24 01:21:44   there is one in Portland it was on of the only all night coffeshops in town lots of fun drunken chess games to be had after the bars closed.. or was that coffeetime damn i hate it when my memory goes bad..there is one called common grounds on se hawthorne i dont remeber it being open all night but it was ok

2006-01-28 16:52:16   The owner of Common Grounds was my neighbor for several years and I can assure everyone that he's neither a Nazi nor a bastard. I've bought coffee at Common Grounds literally hundreds of times and *never* had an issue. I'm no expert when it comes to coffee, but I know what I like and I like both the people and coffee at Common Grounds. —GrumpyoldGeek

2006-01-28 18:01:45   The chai here is bad. But otherwise, I like this place. The internet is a bit slow, though. —ApolloStumpy

2006-02-13 09:08:52   This is a great little coffee house in a suburban shopping center (Safeway, officeMax, RiteAid). Great atmosphere, with friendly attractive staff (the females plus the occasional guy behind the counter). Coffee is great, can't comment on chai, never had it. Downsides: in the late afternoon the sun blasts directly into the windows and makes it really hot, even in winter. Hard to see your laptop screen when it competes with solar rays. The couches are not comfy, old springs that swallow you up. The crowd here tends to be older than downtown coffeehouses, some suburban housewives and professionals plus your usual Davis students. Great place overall, one of the best in Davis. —HT

2006-09-08 09:14:31   I'm sad I won't find myself in South Davis as much now that I've moved, and won't be able to frequent this place. It's one of my favorites, Toffee Frappe is awesome. —ChristyMarsden

2006-09-13 08:52:52   Common Grounds has some of the worst music I've ever heard. I've often been driven to ear plugs or ipod while sitting there and once I walked in, heard the music, and walked out figuring Dos would be easier than sticky sweet pop-ish country. —AmyGoogenspa

2006-09-13 15:22:50   My favorite cold drink is the White Mocha Frappe (fra-pay). I like this place a lot. It's one of the only South D coffee shops. Lame that it's only open until 9 though!! —RachelCakes

2006-09-29 17:16:44   I know flies in Davis are generally bad this time of year, but the flies here in this cafe are particularly FEROCIOUS! They start to swarm, chase each other, and mate even, right on your table, hair, book, or computer. Ownership needs to put up fly traps. Or gets some of door blower thingies. They become particularly wild when the sun starts to fade, like they're trying to grab that last little bit o' sunshine. —AnnieSirrah

2006-10-27 10:35:40   i am so glad that picture includes kalie's car, which she probably abandoned at dukes the night before —KailaGlassburner

2007-03-18 11:59:07   Their coffee is absolutely terrible. It was extremely watered down and bitter. They also don't have a refund system, so they offer to "make you another drink". Ew, I'd rather not take a chance with something from your espresso machine, especially after I tried my friend's mocha. It's such a shame that the only coffee shop (sans Sbux, which I don't support) in South Davis is so terrible. —ElizabethAbinante

2007-05-25 12:38:50   The coffee is good, and it is a nice place to study. Bring an ipod, the music is worse than starbucks music. It is just bad, but that and its early closing time are the only big downsides. —BenjaminRosenstein

2007-08-24 10:28:21   Great place. And the girls are hott. Esp. that cutie with the short hair. Smokin'. —Rodrigo

2007-08-24 11:36:19   Rumor has it they might be eyeing another location downtown. —HakonHope

2007-09-16 18:23:17   I like Common Grounds... except for the flies in August/September...except for the Italian Sodas and the flavorless syrup they use...and I daren't use those couches... who knows what lurks therein! Overall, a good place to study. Sometimes I feel sorry for casual users who can't find a seat during midday in the height of exam season. —AnnieSirrah

2007-09-20 21:49:03   Now serving pastries from Konditorei....mmmmmm..... —DonShor

2007-10-23 17:17:02   The people here are all incredibly sweet. Lovely white mochas! —Casey

2008-01-30 20:55:52   I really like their low fat pumpkin muffin. —QS 2/25/08 Update: Sad to say, their service is quite lacking. Last time I was there, the counter girl was very unfriendly and wouldn't even muster a smile. She gave me a pumpkin scone instead of a muffin and when I went back to let her know, she didn't even say sorry and made it seem like I was hassling her. My mocha was watered down and tasteless. I brought my own mug and she wrote on it with the pencil they use to write on their paper cups and now it won't wash off. I didn't say anything at the time because I thought it was removable. It wasn't like the place was even busy. I've worked at a restaurant before and I never gave any customers an attitude no matter how busy or frazzled I was.

2008-02-03 23:28:58   Are they hiring? I need a job! —CourageCowardlyDog

2008-03-04 10:41:07   This place is hands down fabulous!!! They have great drinks and great service along with a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. They are the ONLY place that remembers customers names and orders which is remarkable especially at 6am. I wouldn't count on trusting the reviews that say they offer service that is lacking, you have to try this place for sure!!! —JessieShen

To say that my review regarding the service can't be trusted is rather antagonistic on your part. I know what my experience was like and I am only describing it as it was. -QS

2008-03-08 16:33:16   I LOVE this place! The service is fast, the staff are great, and the owner does of a good job of making people feel like "regulars". The study area rocks...I don't know of a comfier place in town. The one major bummer= 9:00 closing time! How about some extended hours...at least during finals...please! —AllyAnaheim

2008-03-12 22:33:40   Yeah, they definitely need to stay open longer! —at86

2008-04-18 21:08:58   The owner is a really nice guy and makes sure his customers are happy —DavidShapowski

2008-06-20 17:37:39   good service but the internet is slow and there a to many flys as i swat one from drink my head and plate —timlane

2008-07-11 13:45:53   I really love this place for studying and doing work. The environment is pleasant - the music is never too loud or obtrusive, the entire staff is really nice and chatty, and the drinks I've had are good (admittedly, mostly just mochas, a few other coffees, and a lot of their teas). The place is comfortable, even if not in the sofas, and has tons of natural light. It also mentions above that the place gets pretty crowded. I have been here at all sorts of times, and even when it has been at its most crowded, I have always been able to get a seat too, so it has been worth coming. I definitely recommend it if you like studying in coffee shops —NickSantos

2008-07-24 13:59:12   This is my favorite coffee shop in Davis. I find Mishka's too crowded, but I've always been able to find a seat here. The couches are super comfy, the coffee is delicious (though I'm no expert), and despite what some others have said, the music is not bad at all! As I sit here now, they're playing classical piano music, and when I was studying for finals, it was mid-century jazz. Nothing wrong with that! But yes, there are lots of flies. If you're the type of person that gets that tickle-y feeling when you think about bugs, you might want to sit outside instead (fewer flies, no joke). Otherwise this place is ideal. —WinButler

2008-08-14 02:47:59   Do you think they would buy any of my prints? Photos:www.flickr.com/Anders_Young —AndersYoung

2008-08-21 10:41:08   The flies are annoying, but the staff and the coffee are great. Later hours would be nice. —Janet

2008-08-22 22:29:11   You MUST try their KONA MOCHA!!! —Terry

2008-09-02 13:20:10   I think I've tried all the non-hippie/Hoopie off-campus coffee places in Davis now, and this is my favorite place to work. The atmosphere is very conducive to study/work and I do appreciate the choice between table or comfy chair. Somewhat surprisingly, the place is not constantly packed, although that may change when classes get under way. The staff has always been professional - no problems there. My only complaint, shared with others, is that the fly problem is real. It's really unappetizing to see a fly crawling over the pastry I'm thinking of ordering. —DataPoint

2008-09-05 11:33:29   I was here last night. I've always wanted to like this place, but I didn't like the coffee. I ordered just a regular coffee and it was undrinkable. Too bitter and. . . something. It wasn't good. It's a good study spot and I love the free internet, but the coffee was disgusting. I don't know about their espresso drinks, but I don't know that I'm willing to try it after last night. —CurlyGirl26

2008-11-16 20:43:11   The internet is slow because half the time there's 20 or 25 people all on their laptops in one place. the coffee is...maybe a 3.5 out of 5 not bad. —Chrissapher

2008-12-13 19:13:40   I looooooooove their chai! I guess it's only for people who like sweet things, but that's some good stuff. —ArielleWeiler

2008-12-17 00:06:22   My favorite place in Davis...coolest owner and great place to study. —Darish

2008-12-26 14:20:10   The owner is great and I'm so happy to have a non-chain coffee shop in south Davis! —RHeinman

2009-01-04 18:28:43   Decent place to study, bleh tasting coffee. But it is perplexing. Why are there still flies here in the WINTER when they have long departed the rest of Davis? I bet you the fly larvae are hatching in the couches or in the plant soil. —AnnieSirrah

2009-01-05 01:01:21   "or in the plant soil..." Nope. —DonShor

2009-04-25 17:24:00   The staff here are really nice and it's a great place to grab some coffee/tea and study! Frappes are excellent! —cfb

2009-08-25 22:57:27   I really like this place. I have had several drinks there and I always enjoy myself. I am sad I cant tip more though. The employees are really nice. —Dozer

2009-08-28 13:51:03   What an incredible place run my some incredible people. You can always count on a great cup o Joe and a comfy place to sit! But I also want to mention that the owner has been a fantastic member of the Davis Community. He's been very generous with a number of organizations and in a town like ours, that's just good business. Sun rocks! —toriac

2009-09-27 19:23:22   great coffee. Its a good place to spend your afternoon. —kkash

2009-10-19 14:08:50   The atmosphere is comfortable and laid back. You can study for hours without being hassled. The coffee is mediocre and the pastries are awful. He apparently gets them delivered from San Francisco on a daily basis but they are so bad. I wonder why he doesn't use a local bakery he could get better tasting food and use less fossil fuels. —Chaz

2009-11-10 23:40:07   Hi, I'm Jason, chances are I may have made you a latte if you've been to our shop before. I'm just posting here to let people know that we are trying to become a part of second friday here in Davis. Common Grounds is looking for local artists to come share their art in different areas. We are looking for all sorts of artists whether you're into painting, sculpting, pottery, poetry, accoustic music we would like to invite to put your craft on display and talk about it. If interested call or stop in and ask for Jason or leave your contact information including e-mail so we can schedule a time. Thanks to everybody who posts on here, we really like the input. —JasonA

2009-11-11 11:24:34   This is a great local business. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the coffee is quite good. I ordered some large carafes for an early business meeting and, afterwards, everyone kept commenting on how great the coffee was. The owner is an active member of the community. You can find Common Grounds at most city events (like Celebrate Davis). —GJC02

2009-11-20 17:34:31   Common grounds is a first class coffee house. The pastries are good; the coffee is excellent. Its great to have a comfy place with wifi, but Common Grounds is a great place to meet up with people and socialize. It exemplifies a neighborhood coffee house with top notch service. The owner is an example of what a business owner in a town like Davis SHOULD be. He is personable, knows most of his regulars and often supports various community organizations. Five stars! —toriac

2010-02-02 19:19:01   I get coffee here almost every day. Great coffee shop, really good people. —superk

2010-02-22 16:10:12   Good treats, and drinks. A great place to sit down, relax or study in a comfortable less busy atmosphere then Starbucks. —GiulianaWasHere

2010-03-08 20:49:22   ...the cookie dough mocha is amazing!!! I tried the latte, it was good, but not as good as the mocha! Staff is very nice and lots of room to sit and relax —kimchee71

2010-03-11 09:25:02   I've been going here for years and it has some of the best coffee in town and great customer service. A nice place to sit and chat or study! —cfb

2010-03-17 19:20:33   I have been living in South Davis for the past 2 months and I gotta say this is the best coffee place around. The coffee actually tastes like coffee, not like what you get at the campus locations that is for sure. I recommend the spicy/sweet Chai Latte! Also, their free wifi is considerably fast even when 10 or so laptops are connected to their network. Oh and their staff are really nice and fun to keep a conversation when you are taking a break from studying. The only criticism i have is that this place closes WAAAAY to early (9pm), basically I get there after dinner and its already closing! —tonyh

2010-05-13 11:14:52   Love the relaxed feel of this place, but at the same time, not too laid back. They have toys/books for kids so they're obviously kid friendly! —LeeY

2010-06-30 19:07:53   This is a great place to study! I think it simply raised my grades:) I would totally recommend this coffee place to anyone, and please indulge in the ham and cheese croissant. —caitlin22

2010-10-08 08:55:18   I have ordered coffee, tea and pastries for meetings and events from Common Grounds for years. Because they're so close to campus, it's easy to pick up orders or have them delivered. They are rock-solid dependable and the owner is awesome. I love the berry scones! —AMcAdow

2011-03-06 22:30:43   My favorite coffee shop in all of Davis, even better than the CoHo! I love their iced mochas on a hot day. The chairs are comfortable, the tables plentiful, and the wifi is pretty fast. I love studying and bringing friends to chat with here. The atmosphere is conducive to both, surprisingly enough. —kthrnngo

2011-04-06 20:48:01   This is such a wonderful place! The Portland blend coffee is my favorite. They also have the best chocolate because they make it there...yummy. Now I want a mocha just thinking about it. —MaryMurphy

"2011-04-27 20:36:03" [[nbsp"] For some reason the industrial size refrigerators that used to kept in a back room somewhere have now been moved out in the coffee bar space beside the front counter. THEY'RE VERY LOUD. Also, electrical cables leading back to the back room along the corridor floor could be tripped over by the unwary. Not a good move, IMHO. BrianOrr

They're remodeling. —DonShor

And now they're done and the refrigerators are back in the back. DS

2011-06-10 05:28:13   Best tasting coffee in Davis! —TomHinds

2011-07-13 10:23:34   really friendly staff, comfy couches, and good coffee! —LenaSchiffer

2011-09-05 12:20:06   What a nice, friendly place! I love coming here. The coffee is great. —KristenM

2011-11-29 15:39:00   the flies are driving me nuts. —NickKory

2011-12-17 19:17:03   Keep an eye on the barista that’s making your drink. Some of baristas feel it’s OK to serve food when they’re sick. The barista that was making my drink was sick. I complained and they refused to refund my money and wouldn’t give me the owner’s information. —customer123

2012-04-30 22:48:43   To their credit, they aren't afraid of letting people know what others think of them: they post direct links to Yelp and the Davis Wiki on their home page. That's courage and sincerity. —SteveDavison

2013-03-29 15:34:01   Wow, this sucks. Common Grounds will always be the place I studied for the bar, and was ultimately hospitable. —ScottLay

2013-03-30 06:22:29   I was just looking for commercial Landlord/Tenant laws and found something which may apply here, were Regency Centers not to have given adequate notice of their decision not to renew the lease: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/CIV/5/d3/4/5/2.6/s1954.31 ScottLay, maybe you can shed some light as to whether or not this is applicable? (Also, yeah— this for real sucks.) —RobinAlexander

Well, I'm guessing the story didn't begin this week. There has been contention between Common Grounds and the shopping center for years, after Safeway added Starbucks and Common Grounds contended that it violated CG's lease (standard non-compete clause). —ScottLay

2013-03-31 10:46:21   Another pet food store? After Western Feed Supply moves into town and tries to step to petco? —StevenDaubert

2013-03-31 16:16:17   Son will be moving Common Grounds to a different location. Stopped by today and shook his hand. I'll never buy another cup of Starbucks coffee again. —JimStewart

It's fine to not like Starbucks, but it doesn't appear the chain is the true villain here. It's a simple case of a national landlord maximizing the dollar at the cost of local business, perhaps leading to more pet food in town. ScottLay

2013-04-08 16:21:24   Woo hoo!!! Glad to hear that Common Grounds is staying in Oakshade after all! Independent businesses like Common Grounds form the backbone of our community. —CovertProfessor

2013-10-05 22:38:05   The new location is gorgeous and needs photos, perhaps a rewrite of the appearance is appropriate at this point. The three pictures currently on the page are of the old location. —JudithTruman

2013-12-27 14:41:12   I visited the new location for the first time today. It does look great. New menu on wall is nice. Outdoor seating a big plus. Feels more spacious. On the downside, wish they had more couches and Instaconnect Hotspot internet did not cut it for me (kept getting knocked off, and theoretically I will be limited to 30 hours/month for free). —MichaelPlotkin

2014-01-14 11:15:28   My new favourite place to go for coffee and studying. The chairs are so comfy. —MichelleNguyen

2015-07-02 00:32:59   Someone should let the employees know that they close at 9, not 8, or not 7:50. At least, according to the sign on the door, and to this wiki page. My girlfriend and I tried to check this place out on our way into safeway this evening. I didn't know this coffee shop was over there, and I spotted it and was pleasantly surprised to see the OPEN sign lit brightly as we parked. We walked over, and checked the door for hours just to be sure (door says open until 9pm), then opened the door and walked in ready to enjoy this new find. The young lady wiping the counter immediately said, "uh, sorry guys, we closed 30 minutes ago". The time was 8:15 precisely, as I checked my watch, then phone, just to be sure. We suggested that she turn the open sign off and lock the door if when they close, and walked out. Double checked the door one last time (still said open until 9pm), and checked for any paper postings about closing early that day, of which there were none. By the time we got our groceries and walked out, the open sign had been turned off, and the shop looked dark and closed up. The time was then 8:50pm... I don't post often, and hate to only give bad news/reviews, but I had to this time. It seemed there was no reason why they were closed early tonight, and there was no explanation offered by the employee, or posted. Furthermore, it was all lit, open sign on, and door unlocked (as it should have been at 8:15pm, according to all the information on shop hours that I can find). Wierd. Anyways, I look forward to trying their coffee next time I am over there before 8pm, I guess. —RichardBeck

2015-07-04 09:47:41   RichardBeck, the 9pm closing time is for the regular school year. In summer, they close an hour early at 8. I only know this because they did this last summer, too, and then went back to their regular hours (6:30am-9pm) once the regular school year resumed. —MichelleNguyen