For nearly a decade, this cozy coffee shop has helped Freeport residents to wake up and enjoy the morning. Learn why this hot-spot is a favorite for people of all ages.
Cynthia Faulkner says it wasn’t her lifelong dream to open a coffee shop.
The inspiration for her business, Higher Grounds Coffee, 1709 S. West Ave., in the southern end of Freeport, came about as she was looking for a second career, after years of working in the life insurance industry.
“One day a lightbulb went on in my head that Freeport could use a nice coffee shop on the south end, and everything then fell into place,” she says.
Ten years ago, Faulkner found the ideal location for her business. She next attended coffee school in Portland, Ore., and embarked on the new adventure.
Faulkner chose the name Higher Grounds because of its connotation for high quality. The shop lives up to its name by using quality specialty coffee beans and the choicest of food ingredients.
The atmosphere at Higher Grounds Coffee is upscale and comfortable, welcoming and friendly, with a contemporary, urban feel. Paintings and photography submitted by local artists regularly adorn the walls. Guests are warmed not only by hot beverages, but also by a three-sided fireplace in the cafe area that’s surrounded by comfy chairs.
Additional tables, chairs and soft furniture bring the seating capacity to more than 40. The cafe’s contemporary colors and warm decor invite people to linger and catch up with friends, or spend time working and studying. Many customers describe the cafe as a peaceful refuge, says Faulkner.
During summer months, customers relax outside on the patio.
The shop hosts events like book signings, wedding and baby showers, birthday and anniversary parties and Christmas parties – complete with custom drinks such as “True Love Lattes” or “Bundle of Joy Mochas.”
For customers who need to grab something to eat or drink on the run, there’s a drive-thru.
Breakfast items include scones, muffins, quiche, cinnamon rolls and pastries; at lunchtime there are soups, chicken and tuna salad wraps, and a wide selection of panini and flatbread sandwiches. There’s also a seasonal menu.
The shop is best known, however, for its full-service coffeehouse drinks.
Selections include house blend coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, espressos and teas, as well as many specialty drinks. Some of the most popular offerings are the Angel Kiss Latte, Salted Caramel Toffee Latte and the Maple Carmella. All drinks can be served hot or over ice. Other beverages include hot chocolate, Mexican spiced cocoa, Italian soda, hot spiced cider and frozen fruit smoothies and frappes.
The shop also features a seasonal latte special of the month, and customers receive 20 percent off the hot or iced version of the selected drink. Several beverages can be made using sugar-free flavors as well as soy or almond milk.
Many kinds of Freeport folk hang out at Higher Grounds Coffee.
“In Freeport, you have to appeal to a lot of demographics,” Faulkner says. “We serve everyone from blue-collar and white-collar workers holding business meetings, to college students. It’s quite a mixture.”
And it’s not enough just to serve quality food and drinks, says Faulkner.
“I’m committed to getting to know my customers and to training my staff members well,” she says. “Our motto is, we want to make a customer’s day better for having stopped by the shop.”
Faulkner says her 10 staff members, several of whom are certified baristas, are passionate about coffee, and her shop is known for its excellent customer service.
As she looks back on the past 10 years, Faulkner concludes that meeting customers has been the most enjoyable part of owning her own business. They’ve been generous both in their patronage and their positive reviews of the shop, she says.
“One of my customers said, ‘Thanks for keeping me awake for the past 10 years,’” Faulkner says with a chuckle. “We enjoy becoming part of their lives. People come in with their families on happy and sad occasions. There’s a need for a place for people to gather, or to just come in alone and unwind in a peaceful and calming atmosphere. I look forward to continuing to be here in the future.”
Higher Grounds Coffee is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.