There’s this funky little town called Maplewood where a funky coffeeshop called Foundation Grounds serves up organic, locally sourced, farm fresh food. The smell of toast browning and cheese melting is a better greeting than any as you enter into the dining area. There’s low chatter all around and a deep whirring as the blender churns fruits and greens. Walls the color of warm orange adobe are checkered with art and various restaurant reviews. Grounding through the coffee house is a turquoise blue tree with branches extending toward the heart of the shop - the barista station. The mural is mixed media with a wooden tree hollow hiding a plush toy affectionately known as Domo, the star of a Japanese comic.
The menu is easy to read: simple white letters on a black background. Specials are handwritten onto mini chalkboards atop the pastry display case. Inside is an array of vegan and organic from scratch baked goods. With large snowball sized scones ready and waiting, it’s tempting to order before checking out the main menu. Coffee is offered in drip form or specialty variations. The featured drip that day was a house ground called “Love & Gratitude”. The featured latte was a Honey + Cinnamon combo. I ordered one along with a Honey + Lavender latte, a mainstay on their menu. The featured dish was Biscuits + Gravy made with local Geisert Farms sausage. Staying away from red meat is so hard when biscuits + gravy is on the menu. We held strong ordering the Miss Luna and A Perfect Pear, both were non-meat options.
The table markers are green playing cards. I took ours over to a seat near a window. The Beatles were playing but it was too low for Shazam to discover it. Luckily, the gentleman to my right, eating lunch with his daughter, chimed in when I questioned aloud what song it was. It’s Sunday and the crowd is a diversified mix of pairs. Behind me, two mothers in yoga pants talked of mornings workouts and feeding kids. To my left, a grey-haired pair laughed over bottomless cups of coffee. Discussing how they’d given up on life, the conversation turned to what they were watching on TV these days. One of the men said he had started downloading Suits from USA. He didn’t like it, he shared. Yet, he continued, “it’s entertaining enough to stop me from thinking”. They both laughed again. Sipped more coffee as the smiles faded from their faces and stared off into some other time, some other place.
Drink orders are called over the barista station when ready. As I gazed over to where the voice called out our order I noticed a retail section. Other local businesses are prominently displayed on shelves next to the register and behind the counter. Tattooed bags of 100% organic Goshen Coffee and stenciled mini brown paper bags of Retrailer loose-leaf tea caught my eye. The Honey + Lavender Latte experience began even before tasting it. As I brought the paper cup to my lips I was met with a light, earthy smell of fresh lavender. Coffee notes played in the background. The reverse sequence occurred for taste. At first, there was coffee silkened by almond milk then a floral sweetness lingered on the tongue. The Honey + Cinnamon needed a little more love. Having a bitter taste and diluted consistency, I added a spoonful of honey and a splash of almond milk to achieve a sweeter taste and richer texture.
Companion white bread toasts with a crunchy crust, yet chewy texture making it the ultimate choice for flattened sandwiches like A Perfect Pear. The first bite melts into one taste as brie and apple butter sink into slightly acidic bread. There’s a hint of spicy red onion followed by warm sweetness as the softened pear slices release their juice. Miss Luna is a quesadilla. The freshest picked apples, spinach, and sharp cheddar bed between crisped brown tortillas. Add a dollop of cilantro lime sour cream to brighten your taste buds for the next bite. Choosing the side salad at a restaurant can be risky. It’s not what people are coming in for and therefore not a culinary focus. The side salad says a lot about a cafe’s basic values and personality. Foundation Grounds’ is simple, yet sophisticated with organic mixed greens, thin red onions, croutons, and vinaigrette. The croutons and balsamic vinaigrette are house made showing love in the smallest details.
Community is an obvious characteristic of this place. Music low and tables close promote interaction. Local partnerships, interesting decor, and delicious health conscious options are great topics of random conversation. There’s no rush here. Table service ends when the food is delivered to the table. WIFI is available after purchase of an item. A unique code is given to each person allowing 60 minutes of free access. Make sure to ask for it. It’s never just offered to control the amount of people using it.