CAZENOVIA — For the past couple of months, Cazenovia resident Debbie Tillson has been working to transform the Common Grounds space at 35 Albany St. into “Purpose Coffee Co.,” a full-service coffee house with a mission.
The new business, which is expected to open in early 2022, will sell locally roasted coffee, espresso, lattes, and several “Instagram-worthy” specialty drinks. Other offerings will include baked goods and a lite menu of homemade soups and grilled panini.
“Bringing [in] healthy, fresh, and local products is a high priority,” said Tillson. “Operating hours are still being finalized, but there is a plan to offer some evening hours as well [as daytime hours].”
The idea of opening a coffeehouse has been on Tillson’s mind for almost a decade.
“Coffee is one of those unique things that brings people together,” she said. “It adds warmth to our conversations and allows us to pause on busy days, even for just a moment.”
After stepping down from her position at Syracuse University this past fall, Tillson committed to bringing her dream to fruition.
In addition to providing the community with locally roasted, high-quality coffee, Tillson aims to brew it in a setting that fosters inclusion and purpose.
“We were all created as unique individuals,” she said. “We may view things differently, see things differently, and feel things differently. Your purpose may be different from my purpose and that’s OK. I am dedicated to creating a space where everyone that walks through the door feels welcomed regardless of those differences. The Purpose Coffee Co. mission is simple. We aim to brew inclusion, one cup at a time. You are wanted here; you are welcomed here and you have purpose.”
Located on the corner of Albany and Sullivan streets, the mixed-use building at 35 Albany St. houses Dave’s Diner and Carter’s Creamery (a division of Dave’s Diner) in the back, a free-use community space, known as Common Grounds, in the front, and conference rooms and offices on the second floor.
According to Tillson, the building — which is situated in an area previously known as “the west end of town square” — was built in the early nineteenth century as a general store.
Throughout the years, Common Grounds has served as a meeting place and workspace for many diverse groups, as well as a venue for various community events.
“Purpose Coffee Co. will work hard to ensure that Common Grounds continues to serve as a community living room,” said Tillson. “Bob Hood, owner of 35 Albany St., has been so warm and welcoming. Bob and I have had many, many conversations over the years and share a vision and a heartfelt commitment to Common Grounds and all that it stands for. Having his support for my vision and goals has been a true blessing.”
The Common Grounds space is currently undergoing renovation.
Tillson hopes to create an inviting, fun, and fresh environment while also preserving the historic character of the space.
“I’m in the final stages of putting it all together and I am so excited with how it’s coming out,” she said. “I think I nailed it. It is a perfect blend of historic wood beams, subway tile, velvet chairs, concrete countertops, [and] industrial piping with funky touches like cool plants and fun merchandise. I can’t wait to open the doors and invite everyone to see just how incredible the space is.”
Purpose Coffee Co. is in the process of hiring for a variety of full- and part-time positions.
“If you would like to work in a space that brews inclusion and great coffee, message us today,” said Tillson.
To contact Tillson, message Purposecoffeecaz on Instagram, Purpose Coffee Co. on Facebook, or email [email protected]