Coffee shop offers free java, social venue for teens

As the colder months arrive in Germany this year, finding a warm place to hang out is something on the minds of many local high school students.

Teens in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart don’t need to look further than the new Common Grounds coffee shop, located on Patch Barracks.

“Common Grounds is a fun, friendly environment,” said Kevin Perry, a freshman at Patch High School. “You can chillax with your friends, do homework and drink coffee.”

The coffee shop, located on the third floor of Building 2312, underwent renovations during the summer and opened its doors this past October. It offers free drinks and snacks in a coffee-shop atmosphere.

The cafe is sponsored and run by volunteers working for the local chapel youth group, Common Bond.

“This is something for the students. This is a place where students can come and belong,” said Leah Vanderlaan, Common Bond youth leader and cafe sponsor. “We want to show love, without expecting anything in return.”

For students in the community, the cafe is also a safe alternative place to hang out, she added.

The coffee shop is open on Monday from 2:30-5:30 p.m. for junior high students, Tuesday from 2:30-5:30 p.m., and Friday from 6-10 p.m. for high school students.
Currently, Common Bond offers a variety of free hot and cold drinks, cakes and cookies.

“It’s nice not having to pay for the coffee,” said senior Brandon Cryzter. “You know that [the employees] are doing it out of love.”

Common Grounds also provides opportunities for students to express themselves with open mike nights on the first and last Friday of every month. On these nights, students can perform music, sing or read poetry.

Common Bond volunteers are also +planning to host karaoke and comedy nights in the coming months.

“The people there want the best for those students,” said Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Rickey Moore, part of the garrison Religious Support Office, which helped fund the cafe. “It is a big asset to the youth culture in the area [and] there’s a freedom to it.”