Not Your Average Coffee Shop: Breaking New Grounds

Aimee Rothman, Staff Writer

DURHAM, NH – Coffee shops can play a major role in today’s world. Besides offering an essential caffeine boost when fatigue hits, coffee shops can also provide a place to relax, study, work or hang out with friends. One local coffee shop, Breaking New Grounds, extends their offerings further than this, by engaging with their community and working philanthropically to make positive changes.

Todd Govoni, owner of Breaking New Grounds, has been running the shop since its opening in 1997. To him, working at the shop is about more than just the coffee. “This job has been my life for the past 25 years,” Govani said. “I really enjoy getting to interact with customers.”       

With the cafe’s location on Main Street, Govoni has gotten to interact closely with local students and community members. The customers not only keep this business alive, but bring positive energy to the shop. “I love the town and the energy from the students. It makes it a lot of fun to be here,” Govoni continued.

Jackie Weik

As about half of their customers are students at UNH, the coffee shop wanted to be inclusive in their practices. One way that Breaking New Grounds does this is by accepting Cats Cache, a form of payment that students can purchase through UNH, encouraging more students to come in. They also promote local artists from UNH by displaying artwork in the cafe, many of which are for sale.

But, Breaking New Grounds wanted to expand their impact on the community beyond coffee and baked goods. “We want to promote our business in a way that also helps other people,” Govoni said.

To achieve this goal, Breaking New Grounds reached out to some of UNH’s organizations for collaboration. “Coming up on Feb. 15, we are partnering with Chi Omega, donating 10% of all sales made that day to the Make-A-Wish foundation.”

Chi Omega has a focus on philanthropy, holding at least two fundraisers a year, with the goal of raising $14,000 each year, according to Elizabeth Haswell, chair of the sorority. “I was so happy to be able to work with Breaking New Grounds to raise money for Make-A-Wish, in hopes to achieve our annual goal,” Haswell said.

The sorority has been a wish-making chapter for the past seven years, and have made an impact on UNH’s community through their fundraising events, such as their annual Mr. UNH pageant. “We love working with other companies and organizations on campus to raise money for a good cause, while doubling as a great way to meet new people,” Haswell said.

Jackie Weik

Govoni has grown along with the community through years of transformation, with the coffee shop being in business for over two decades. “There’s been a lot of change. I’ve seen new buildings and businesses over the years but the vibe in Durham has always stayed the same,” Govoni recounted.

To adapt to the changing times of Durham, Breaking New Grounds has also increased social media presence as a way to further their philanthropic efforts, with multiple giveaways featuring prizes like free drinks, gift cards and merchandise.

“We collaborated with the UNH students Instagram page, where we gave away 10, $10 gift cards for students who participated.”

Social media also doubled as a way to advertise their products to easily reach students at UNH. Breaking New Grounds can be found on Instagram @bng.durham and on FaceBook, @Breaking New Grounds, Durham.

“We advertise a lot of our specials on Instagram, too,” said Govani. “Every Wednesday, we offer a $3 Red Bull infusion, which is one of our most popular items.” 

Breaking New Grounds also commits themselves to freshness in all of their products. Baked goods are baked fresh daily and coffee is brewed three to four times a week, according to Govoni.

Jackie Weik

He believes in offering the best product available to the customers, old and new, that he has encountered over the years. “Just like any food item, the fresher it is, the better it is. That’s why we try to maintain that consistency.”