The baristas are mostly indie musicians, the baker speaks only French and co-owner Jose Campos is just about the sweetest globetrotter this side of the Atlantic. After battling the city's zoning regulations since August, CommonWealth Coffeehouse & Bakery finally opened its doors this month to a neighborhood anxiously awaiting its arrival.
Off Broadway and directly behind The Washtub, CommonWealth has that humble home-away-from-home vibe with comfy couches, a dining table, killer pastries and artwork by University of Incarnate Word students scattered about – including French fashion designs on miniature mannequins. The exterior seating is ideal for spring time but the ambiance conjured an inclination to buy an oversized hat and sit out there in winter anyway.
The French-inspired pastries are made in-house and fresh daily in the small, open bakery in the back. The Tartes au Citron tasted like a glass of lemonade straight from a reputable homemade stand on a summer day. A tart lemon creation containing baked lemon custard, it is supposed to be enjoyed sipping an espresso with one's pinky undoubtedly sticking out. If chocolate is more your thing, put the Pain Au Chocolat in your mouth. It shall melt. A classic croissant with dark chocolate... need I say more?
Ever heard of spéculoos? Me neither, but CommonWealth decided to throw it in a macaroon and subsequently created the best little sandwich cookie I have ever eaten. It's a spiced shortbread biscuit, so basically a graham cracker, smashed between two fluffy halves of heaven. The other option is the Nutella macaroon, a classic.
CommonWealth serves up anticipated coffee favorites using Cuvée Coffee beans out of Austin, as well as Ferra from San Antonio. The vanilla latté was perfection and my Americano was sipped from a kitty mug with enjoyment. The owners are making sure to offer some meal options as well, including breakfast tacos, lunch sandwiches and salads. Hours are 7am-6pm Monday through Friday and 7am-3pm on Saturday, which I wish were extended a bit.
Parking was recently expanded behind the location to cope with the awkward traffic snarl that often occurs in residential areas. The interior does feel a bit cluttered, but the chatter and close quarters are more welcoming than off-putting. The owners put special effort into their décor – mostly crafted by hand, including the multilayered wooden centerpiece ominously hanging above the register.
Overall, CommonWealth distinguishes itself from the array of established coffee shops with an identity all its own: honest with a focus on service and community.
Commonwealth Coffehouse & Bakery
118 Davis Ct., 560-2955, commonwealthcoffeehouse.com