CAZENOVIA – For the past several months, Cazenovia-based Debbie Tillson has been working on converting the Common Grounds area at 35 Albany St. into Purpose Coffee Co., a full-service coffeehouse with a mission.
The new store, slated to open in early 2022, will sell locally roasted coffee, espresso, lattes and several “Instagram-worthy” specialty drinks. Other offerings include baked goods and a light menu of homemade soups and grilled panini.
“Bring [in] healthy, fresh and local produce is a high priority, ”said Tillson. “The opening times are still to be determined, but there are plans to offer some evening hours as well [as daytime hours]. “
The idea of opening a coffee house has preoccupied Tillson for almost a decade.
“Coffee is one of those unique things that brings people together,” she said. “It adds warmth to our conversations and enables us to pause for a moment on busy days.”
After Tillson stepped down from her position at Syracuse University last fall, she made a commitment to achieve her dream.
In addition to providing the community with locally roasted, high quality coffee, Tillson wants to make it in an environment that encourages inclusion and purpose.
“We were all created as unique individuals,” she said. “We may see things differently, see things differently, and feel things differently. Your purpose may be different from my purpose, and that’s fine. I am committed to creating a space where everyone who walks through the door feels welcome, regardless of these differences. Purpose Coffee Co.’s mission is simple. Our goal is to brew inclusion, one cup at a time. You are wanted here; You are welcome here and you have a 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 background, a free common area known as Common Grounds, in the front area as well Conference rooms and offices on the second floor.
Tillson says the building, which is in what was formerly known as the “west end of the town square,” was built as a general store in the early 19th century.
Over the years, Common Grounds has served as a meeting point and work space for many different 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 communal living room,” said Tillson. “Bob Hood, owner of 35 Albany St., was so warm and welcoming. Bob and I have had many, many conversations over the years and share a vision and sincere commitment to Common Grounds and all that it stands for. To have his support for my vision and goals has been a real blessing. “
The common room is currently being renovated.
Tillson hopes to create a welcoming, fun, and fresh environment while preserving the space’s historic character.
“I’m in the final stages of putting it together and I’m so excited with how it comes out,” she said. “I think I made it. It’s a perfect mix of historic wooden beams, subway tiles, velvet chairs, concrete countertops, [and] industrial piping with funky accents like cool plants and fun merchandise items. I can’t wait to open the doors and invite everyone to see how amazing the space is. “
Purpose Coffee Co. is in the process of recruiting a variety of full and part-time positions.
“If you want to work in a room that makes inclusion and great coffee, send us a message today,” said Tillson.
To contact Tillson, send a message to Purposecoffeecaz on Instagram, Purpose Coffee Co. on Facebook, or email [email protected]