What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Smart Monkey Cafe
Location visited: Ithaca, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]
Completely organic establishments seem to be hit-or-miss in my experience. I've hit some that reek of the pungent smell of vitamins and others that have prices that are way beyond reason for most people making less then $200K a year. Yet once in a while I will discover a place that smells nice, has moderate pricing, and actually has appetizing food (that's a killer trio!).
While driving the streets of Ithaca, my wife spotted a sign that said something to the effect of "coffee this way"; we had other plans for the time being but we figured we'd check it out before we left town. A couple hours later, we pulled into their somewhat confusing one way driveway, parked, and made our way in. At first glimpse, the cafe seems to be part of a larger structure but upon entering I realized that the cafe was actually the whole structure. The interior was a massive open atrium (with space in the middle large enough for a giraffe to jump in), decorated Rainforest-Cafe-style, and complete with drive-thru.
As you may have guessed, the initial standout feature of this place was that Smart Monkey serves only organic fare. As for coffee, they use local Gimme! coffee (only the organic ones I guess) which boasted the normal Gimme! quality though my particular cup was slightly stale. The espresso was pulled fairly decently; it possessed a nice tangy sweetness yet also a little sharpness. I didn't note the tea (though I'm pretty sure it is organic free leaf of sorts). The cafe also has a very full menu for all three meals, including alcohol and sit-down service for dinner.
While I did find the Smart Monkey as a tremendous example of what an organic cafe/coffeehouse should look like, it seemed that a couple of areas in their coffee operation could be spruced up (such as I can't say I was sold on their passion). Nonetheless, if you're looking for a nice open space to get some work done or a place for (what seemed like) a nice "natural" meal, drop in on the Smart Monkey.