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Coffee grinds, grooves and so much more

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Grooveground Coffeebar offers a melting pot of food, drink, music, art, ideas, and people from all walks of life.

Chris Rocco and Mike Snyder took a risk when they decided to open Grooveground Coffeebar.

It was post Y2K and Collingswood was “going through a pre-renaissance period.”

“One day, I came into town to pick up Chinese food and found all these buildings for sale, and I’m thinking there’s no way that this town, with access to the train station, is going to stay sleepy,” Rocco recalled. “That’s how it started. The real estate was affordable, there was only one small record shop at the time, and only one café/coffee shop.”

Since opening, it’s all that Rocco and Snyder envisioned – a combination of a café and coffee shop – and so much more.

The duo came up with the name the same evening of the Chinese food pickup.

“Mike thought I was nuts,” Rocco said with a laugh.

But as it turns out two decades later, the idea was far from crazy.

“I was not a super coffee-snob at the time,” Rocco said. “A lot of people think you push the button and coffee comes out. I did too. But you have to really know what you’re doing.

“Espresso is so important. I didn’t realize how critical it was. I learned it’s temperamental in nature, how it goes from incredibly bitter to watered-down if the grounds are too thin or too dark and how the pressure makes the brew come out perfect. All that was new to me.”

Grooveground Coffeebar prides themselves on serving delicious La Colombe coffee, as well as teas, salads, paninis, fresh baked goods, and desserts.

“We were one of the first places that La Colombe came to in New Jersey,” Rocco said, however, to become La Colombe approved, it was no easy feat. “I was a customer in [La Colombe’s] Philly store at Ritttenhouse and I asked, ‘Is there a chance you might wholesale to a small place over the bridge?’ They were so big, I don’t know why they bothered with us, but they did.”

Before opening day, representatives from La Colombe came in to train their employees.

“They wanted to make sure that we served the same cup [of coffee] that you would get in Philly,” Rocco said. “It was insane. We must have been brewing coffee for 14 hours the day before to get it right.”

And the staff continues to train to make drinks and to make sure the espresso is the perfect ground.

Grooveground has since added plenty of warm weather refreshment to their hot and cold brews, such as sparkling coolers in mojito, lavender, and razzberry flavors, and frozen frappes of caramelized latte, hot chocolate, and matcha.

Frusions – blended fruit puree drinks with all natural ingredients and no preservatives – rolled out around May Fair on May 27.

Grooveground regulars will be excited to hear that Pop-a Rama popsicles are slated to return in 2024.

From coffee, grooves to “handmade” goods

“When the doors opened [21] years ago, almost the entire wall was music,” Rocco explained. “As music technology changed and MP3s and iPods came out, we changed to more product-oriented merchandise.

“Our program of locally-sourced goods is called ‘Handmade.’ It’s kind of like Etsy, but you can touch it, see it, and get it right here. The products are made within a mile or two. We’ve had artwork, pottery–and jewelry does well, too. Currently, there’s a bit of a waiting list.”

With renewed interest in vinyl, Grooveground is going back to familiar roots.

“We just got rid of CDs and DVDs last year and have started bringing vinyl back,” Rocco said.

As a selected store for Record Store Day, they have access to exclusive new releases.

“Our buyback program buys back vinyl. People who want to sell their collections can drop them off and we will price them.”

Now having an eclectic mix of food, clothing, and wares, their Facebook page describes the store as “a melting pot of food, drink, music, art, ideas, and people from all walks of life.”

“It’s definitely a melting pot,” Rocco said. “Like if Urban Outfitters, Tower Records, and Starbucks had a baby–that’s what kind of place this is. It’s cool to come in here and see people from ages 16 to 70.”

In mid/late summer 2023, Grooveground will renovate and expand their handmade, used clothing, and thrift product selections.

They are expecting to reopen by October, with a new garden bar out back that will provide shaded seating, ambient sound and lighting, and plenty of greenery. It will be accessible through the store, and will be “a great place to socialize or unwind, day or night.”

Rocco said the renovation is their gift to their customers.

“We met everyone we know at this place, we can never get rid of it,” he said, noting special relationships.

“Some people work here for six years, I go to their high school graduations and weddings. People who met here on a date bring back their children and introduce them to us. Our regulars are so loyal. How do you say ‘thank you’ for that?”

Grooveground Coffeebar is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 647 Haddon Ave. For more information visit grooveground.com.

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