Showing posts with label Gimme Coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gimme Coffee. Show all posts

Monday, August 17, 2020

Amity Coffee Co.

Subject: Amity Coffee Co.
Location: Penn Yan, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

For the three long years my wife and I spent in Syracuse, we tried to make the most of our geography and visit all of the nifty towns in the area. Looking back, we failed quite deplorably, as we only went for the crowd favorites like Ithaca and Watkins Glen. Now I look at the map of New York and see so many intriguing spots we've had to make up since we moved south.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Alchemy Coffee

Subject: Alchemy Coffee
Location: Richmond, VA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The density difference in quality coffeehouses between west coast cities and east coast cities still surprises me. While the gaps grow smaller, places like Portland and Seattle still boast the greater amount of great coffee establishments per square mile, with the only real exception being New York City (though you could argue that due to the irregular density and infrastructure of NYC, it really should be put it in a class of its own). Thus it's no wonder that several years ago, when Portlander Erik Spivack transplanted to Richmond, he found a woeful lack of great coffee in this Virginia city. Fortunately, his response was not to complain on social media or give snarky remarks to friends and relatives, but instead to start up Alchemy Coffee.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Java Rock

Subject: Java Rock
Location: Rock Hall, MD
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

For growing up relatively close to the Delmarva peninsula, I have spent surprisingly few moments upon the landmass. Looking to rectify this delinquency, I have recently taken to wandering the Delmarva and have found it to be a place of gorgeous rural scenery, fishing villages and lots of local secrets.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Shop Cafe

Subject: The Shop Cafe
Location: Ithaca, NY
WiFi?: Yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Back when central New York was a regular stomping ground, Ithaca was one of my favorite haunts. Its lovely small town shops, independent culture and its array of good coffeehouses always made for a nice little day trip.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CC: Steap and Grind

Subject: Steap and Grind
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

I am greatly refreshed in watching the Fishtown area of Frankford Avenue grow and improve. Where few great establishments have existed in the past, many now flourish. Where there wasn't a decent cup of coffee for blocks, there is now a fount.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CC: Skaneateles Bakery

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Skaneateles, NY
Free WiFi ? : no
4+ [
see key]

Finger lakes hold some wondrous scenery if you hit them at the right times. The cold winters usually deter much merriment and the summer can get sweltering, yet a nice day amidst the nature and culture of the region stands as a lasting euphoria.

Personally, my favorite lake is Lake Skaneateles due to its crystal clear waters and the quaint town of the same name at the top. Granted the town can be pricey but aside from the surrounding nature, the town has a few great deals. One of them is the Skaneateles Bakery, located on the main stretch of town. This bakery serves up sweet small town treats with a modern flair and has been raved of by many a friend.

What drew me to the bakery one lovely day was less baked goods and more of good coffee rumors. Upon arriving on their doorstep, I spotted the Gimme Coffee sign in the window, which given the possibilities,
it was a step in the right direction (Gimme has many great coffees but many times the local shops only buy the cheap stuff). Inside, the counter holds plenty of baked items and to the side and back is a blue-and-brown space with a healthy amount of seating.

They did indeed serve Gimme, and thus I ordered a cup of their Asobargi via drip and an espresso. The drip coffee produced flavors of spicy mango salsa, tart cherry, a whiskey kick, a little earthiness and a heavy body touched with a tinge of bitterness on the end. The espresso, pulled short and with fading tan crema, held notes of bitter chocolate, graham cracker, sesame seed and a tinge of brightness. The tea is Harney and Sons.

Given the coffee source being Gimme, I'm positive that this bakery could do better but if nothing were to change, they do a pretty decent job with their coffee (oh, their chocolate chip cookies were amazing too). When in town, stop by the bakery.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CC: Corning Museum of Glass Cafe

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Corning, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes

5+ [
see key]

Gorgeous museum layouts truly capture my admiration, and the Corning Museum of Glass did surprisingly that. I showed up expecting a warehouse-ish display of fancy old glass containers only to find an engaging collection of history, art and practical knowledge.

And the surprises did not stop there. As I walked into the cafe to get a glass of water, I noticed that they had a two group lever espresso machine, specifically a Mirage Idrocompresso, a machine I rarely see in serious coffeehouses never mind a museum cafe. I asked the barista if she knew how to use it, to which she confidently assured me she did, so I indulged and ordered an espresso.

Using Gimme Coffee's Piccolo Mondo (surprise number two: a museum using good coffee!), I must say I was floored. The barista not only handled the machine with grace but she pulled a delightful, short pair of shots with good crema and flavors of whiskey, sugar cane, chocolate chip cookie and but a smidgen of bitterness on the end. The single downside was that she only had paper cups.

The cafe also offers three drips; a medium roast, a dark roast and a decaf of Gimme Coffee. While I didn't go for any drip this trip, the pump pots seemed often replenished and I can at least vouch that Gimme's medium roasts are usually quite delicious (not a fan of their dark roasts and I don't drink decaf enough to recommend). I did not note the tea.

Walking away, I got my last surprise in that the barista told me that the museum plans to make this experience even better (I think that included ceramic cups) when they reopen their coffee bar in the near future (apparently it is closed for winter).

Putting it all together, I have to say that of all my cultured experiences, this is one of the few times where good coffee practices found a way in. If you're around Corning, even if you don't go into the museum, give the cafe or coffee bar a visit.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't Forget the Thanksgiving Coffee!

As the great American holiday rounds the corner, don't forget to grab a pound or two of great coffee for whatever events you plan to host or attend.

With that said, here's a few coffees (alphabetically-listed) that I've either heard a lot of good things about or I've had the pleasure of tasting myself. If you're really in a rough spot (you know of no good coffee nearby), shoot me an email as I would not wish such a fate on anyone.

Crescent Moon's Brazil Daterra Sunrise
Received a 92 from Coffee Review recently and from what I hear, this year's crop produced a tremendous coffee. On a direct recommendation, one of my recent favorites is the Raccoon Creek Blend as it was recently reworked and has become even more glorious.

Gimme Coffee's Nicaragua Linda Vista Cup of Excellence
While any Cup of Excellence Coffee is a good choice, Gimme usually has a tremendous track record in my experience of great CoEs.

PTs Coffee's Ethiopia Limu - Gomma Organic
An amazing light coffee I've had the distinct pleasure of imbibing, give this or a number of PT's other coffees a whirl.

And here's a few holiday blends (I've heard nothing on these but it sure is good marketing):
Counter Culture Coffee's Holiday Blend
Intelligentsia's Celebration Blend

If you have any others, feel free to leave them in a comment below.

Friday, September 19, 2008

CC: Funk N Waffles

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Funk N Waffles
Location visited: Syracuse, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

*Updated 9/27/09*

Some words you rarely see together but when they combine, they sound kinda good. Chocolate and sonata, anarchy and shutterbugs, or even fruit and fireworks (this last one I personally enjoy). Similarly, it wasn't until I ran across a small wafflerie near Syracuse University that I first heard the words 'funk' and 'waffles' in the same breath.

As the waffle and coffee trend seems to be on the rise, I was curious to see how the musical stylings of funk played into the equation of Funk N Waffles. The wafflerie stands in what appears to be a back alley called Campus Plaza between Marshall St. and Adams St. Walking in, you must first head down a treacherous set of steps in order to access the underground lair of Funk N Waffles. The shop opens up into an eclectic venue with various types of furniture and eyebrow-raising art along the walls, with the stage off to the back for when they have performances (which is frequently).

The coffee hails from Ancora Coffee Roasters, a Wisconsin coffee company new to my ears. The coffee brewed usually is the House Blend, which comes off with a slight bit of char and not too much flavor (seems to be a bean problem). The espresso is also not so hot despite baristas who seem to know what they're doing. The espresso usually tastes strongly of bitter oils, albeit slightly sweet with a nice hang (also a bean issue?). The tea is free leaf and from the looks of the menu, the waffles look amazing.

Granted the coffee aspects of Funk N Waffles seems like they could improve a bit (maybe change coffee roasters), but the business seems to be a thriving hangout and
music scene for student and local alike. Thus, if you happen to be in Syracuse and looking for either a place to groove to some local tune-age or a good place to grab a waffle and fair cup of coffee, head to Funk N Waffles.

*Update 11/22/08

Funk N Waffles recently swapped over to Equal Exchange. A depressing move in the wrong direction (can't say that Equal Exchange coffee has ever been anything but over-roasted). Maybe they'll change again soon?

*Update 9/27/09

They upgraded this past summer, this time to Gimme Coffee. The espresso has definitely improved a little bit due to the change in bean but it given use of good beans, the shots could still use some refinement. And while the drip is also Gimme, it seems to be very much the darker Gimme Coffees which I can't say I care for.

So, improvement with the coffee roaster but I assume that they're still adjusting.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CC: Caffe Art Java

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Caffe Art Java
Location visited:
Montreal, QC

Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

ll too often in our fast-paced world, coffee becomes something we grab and not something we take the time to truly enjoy. Sure some coffeehouses have a relaxed lounge area where people can set up their laptops and camp for hours, but few really encourage people to sit back and enjoy their coffee.

One such cafe that seemed to do a splendid job of coaxing their customers to sit and sip was a little place in Montreal called Caffe Art Java. Though a coffeehouse by name and renown, the business seems to operate more like a restaurant as they offer full table service for customers dining in, whether they get a doubleshot of espresso or a full meal. The cafe itself is quite beautiful, with a large open store front that allows customers to take advantage of the nice weather as well as ample varieties of table seating extending throughout.

The coffee comes from Gimme Coffee, a welcome and familiar brew. The drip (or filtered) sampled was a Sumatran, which sampled earthy and full though it tasted a bit stale. The espresso I had on two very different accounts: my first visit produced a very messy doubleshot that was sweet but a bit cardboard-y, but my second visit extended a wonderfully pulled doubleshot that had such a nice velvety texture and a flowery chocolate-y tang to it. In the end, I went with the former experience as the fluke to give them the benefit of the doubt. The tea is Harney and Sons.

Overall, despite a few minor glitches, I had a very relaxed and quality experience with Caffe Art Java. If you happen to be in town, I would suggest taking a good chunk of time to plop down at the cafe and enjoy a decent cup of coffee.

Friday, April 11, 2008

CC: Smart Monkey Cafe

What's a Coffee Commentary?

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.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CC: Northern Lights Espresso Bar

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Northern Lights Espresso Bar
Location visited: Scranton, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

These days, many of the prime would-be coffeehouse locations are just too high in rent. I've seen several coffee establishments go out of business and many more suffer because deeper pockets have their eyes on prime retail space.

But in the town of Scranton, I was delighted to find Northern Lights Espresso Bar smack dab in the midst of central Scranton. The first time I caught sight of it was during some huge Italian festival where the streets were packed with tents and pedestrians. I was passing through at a late hour, needed a good pick-me-up, found it in decent time, and narrowly missed the last call. Fortunately it wasn't the last time I'd be driving through Scranton at a late hour.

The place is housed in a majestic stone building with gargantuan storefront windows right across the street from an old church (and maybe a park; I forget). There's a good deal of metered parking nearby and the oddly when I manage to visit, parking isn't a problem.

Walking in, it's a two-floor space with a wonderful furniture arrangement and beautiful art hanging on the wall. The line is usually healthy and the place almost always hopping.

The coffee is Gimme! out of Ithaca, which was a welcome surprise. The coffee brewed was about up to par with Gimme! straight from the native spout (i.e. little blundering in the brewing at Northern Lights) and they seemed to serve the better coffees (Gimme! has a few dark roasts that make me cry). The espresso was pretty good, as it was pulled decently but for some reason, it just didn't wow me. The tea I think is free leafed.

If I was a native Scranton-ite working in the downtown area, I would be uber pleased to know that Northern Lights was a viable coffee (and meeting) option so close by. I think the place could definitely use some fine-tuning but overall, I definitely plan on stopping in when I'm in the area.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

CC: Gimme! Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Gimme! Coffee
Location visited: Ithaca, NY and Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

4.11.08 - Upate follows original post

ome say the key to a successful operation is just having a good product while others expect that a well-hyped and deliciously packaged product is the goal. And while I do know a couple places that do thrive on just one of those criteria, obviously a business that masters both is going places.

In my opinion, Gimme! Coffee must be the Northeast poster child of such dual success. I've seen more plugs/ads/publicity for Gimme! coffee (they roast their own) and espresso (apparently they have some strong mastery) then any other nearby operation, and for seemingly good reason as I've heard nothing but positive things from lots of credible sources. The only negative thing I read was that they really like to roast dark, which could be good (if they know what they're doing) or bad (if they purvey nothing but charred oiliness).

Obviously hearing so many pleasant things about a place so relatively close (in NYC area as well as Ithaca), I made it a point to stop by the first chance I was near a location. Ironically, the first time I was near Ithaca, I hit a closed sign by a mere 8 minutes (drat was I disappointed) but a month or so later, I made a day trip to Ithaca plenty early so to make a day of the town (Ithaca is gorges!).

The first store I made it to was State St, a location tucked into a block of various small Ithaca businesses with an all but too quaint, flat brick face. The outside had some exterior seating with a very inviting appearance complimented with a very warm (orangy-red!) interior filled with patrons. The only odd thing about the inside was the overwhelming smell of celery or minestrone (it lingered in my nostrils like an angry hornet). The coffee was a stellar brew (I believe it was a Bolivian) with a beautifully smooth body and a floral accent. The espresso held a full, chocolaty sweetness and was pulled wonderfully. The tea is Harney and Sons, a tea I've found all too wonderful at other establishments.

The other store was their Cayuga St location, seemingly placed on a very random corner near what appeared to be a canal or irrigation channel and some local residences (what a nice place to live). The outside was a beautiful store front with large windows and exterior seating, while the inside was a high-ceilinged narrow store with the counter smack in the middle of the place with seating orbiting around it. This place was also packed. The coffee, espresso, and tea here were of similar superb quality with some talented baristas working the machines.

I must say that my visit to the Gimme locations lived up to the hype, as they were extremely professional in their performance and product. But as they are a roaster and purvey to various establishments, I've also had some truly poor Gimme roasts from other vendors (some really really dark coffee that I don't think was meant to be brewed) but what can you do? Make a point to give a visit to one of the Gimme locations in either Ithaca, Trumansburg, or the NYC area (I do believe there's a Manhattan location forthcoming on top of their Brooklyn establishment, but I could be misquoted).

*Update 4.11.08

Visited the new Mott St Manhattan location. While a very small space, the coffee and espresso still hold to the same quality. Make sure to give it a stop.