Our story

Just another regular café in South Belfast, right?

Well, our fair trade coffee and ethically sourced food might help to set us apart (we’ve won Belfast’s Best Fairtrade Café two years in a row – and are twice runners-up in the Observer Food Magazine’s best ethical restaurant awards). Perhaps it’s our laid back environment and hip staff, or the fact that we’re the only café in the city with a community garden (lift a rug and enjoy your coffee on the lawn, where else can you do that?). Is it because we’ve been lucky enough to scoop both the NI Aeropress Championship and NI Barista Champ awards.

Perhaps it’s our tasty breakfast and dinner options on offer – including our trademark Yumm Bowl, famous Cinnamon Scones or flavour-packed Thai Tuesday dishes? And yes, we’ve even featured in the Guardian’s Top 10 Budget Eats.

All those things are important to us – and something to be proud of. But what makes us WHO we are has got to be our heart for the local and global community. You see, we try to reflect the values of hospitality, justice, generosity and compassion in everything we do – to make an impact close to home and in the wider world.

We’re not about making it big for ourselves.

That’s why, as a social enterprise, we give away ALL our profits to charities, and why we’re passionate about raising awareness of issues that affect the global poor. Since 2004, we’ve donated more than £60,000 to relief and development NGOs such as Habitat for Humanity, Children in Crossfire, Barefeet, Trocaire, Tearfund and Christian Aid in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. All that from a small group of individuals from City Church Belfast who had the vision for a café way back in 2003.

But it’s not just about keeping the focus on what’s happening ‘over there’.

“As we think globally & act locally, all our lives will be enriched & inspired”
That’s why we seek to be a safe and welcoming place, particularly for those who have come to Belfast to find a better way of living. We’re proud of the fact that we receive so much help from our volunteer staff, many of whom are refugees or who are in the process of seeking asylum. We are privileged to have people from 25 nationalities meeting under our roof every Thursday evening for Belfast Friendship Club and to support the catering skills training project Global Kitchen – one of our current charity partners, along with South Belfast Foodbank which we host every Wednesday afternoon.

Let’s not forget that we’re part of the Suspended Coffee movement, and that we throw open our doors (and arms) every Christmas day, to provide more than 130 turkey dinners and cheer for those down on their luck, new to Belfast or on their own (with a LOT of help from volunteers and donors).

For everyone who passes through our doors, Common Grounds is a place for relationships to develop, companionships to be enjoyed and differences to be celebrated and appreciated.

We hope that as we think globally and act locally, all our lives will be enriched and inspired by the community that we’ve created.