My first Gimme Coffee experience was in November of my freshman year. A friend suggested we meet at Gates Hall to do work and get caffeinated, and I instantly became a fan. In fact, that friend and I proceeded to create “Gimme Coffee Fridays” for the rest of the year. We began to explore Gimme’s other cafes around Ithaca and appreciate the differing atmospheres of each and the consistently high-quality beverages. Gimme Coffee really cares about the quality of their coffee beans, the presentation of their drinks and the satisfaction of their customers.
Gimme Coffee was founded in 2000 as a coffee roastery and third-wave coffee shop with their first location on Cayuga Street. Gimme now has seven locations: Three in downtown Ithaca, one in Gates Hall, one in Trumansburg and two in New York City. The “third-wave coffee movement” is a push by consumers and manufacturers to appreciate and enjoy high-quality coffee. They seek to educate about growing, processing and roasting methods, as well as how the beverages are prepared. Gimme aims to use sustainable practices throughout the steps of the supply chain. As part of choosing their coffee beans, Gimme forms relationships with farmers and helps them improve operations. The upstate New York employees formed the first known baristas union in 2017; its purpose is to pay workers a living wage and provide a great work environment.
However, some recent events reveal that Gimme Coffee may not be as communal as it seems. In October 2019, baristas and community members picketed outside the Gimme Coffee Cayuga Street location in protest over the firing of an employee. The union contract does not set forth explicit consequences for a breach thereof, so employees were unsure whether this case would be resolved fairly. As of February 2020, the barista was to be reinstated. The Sun spoke with a barista in October who said that Gimme’s branding as a “small local coffee business is misleading,” and that their “Leftist Espresso (Gimme’s brand of espresso) … is not reflective of the ownership values.” A recent shift in leadership may change the relations between administration and employees; Colleen Anunu, who started as a barista and progressed to Director of Coffee in her ten years at the company, is now the Interim CEO.
As someone who has indulged in Gimme Coffee’s offerings many times, the chance to conduct a formal review of their drinks was very exciting. My normal purchase is a soy latte which has just the right amount of foam and caffeine kick. For the purpose of a complete review, I ordered an espresso shot, a cappuccino with soy milk, a beet mocha with soy milk (their current special) and a chai latte with soy milk. All four drinks were served in mugs, on a small plate and with a small spoon. The cappuccino and beet mocha were both presented with beautiful “latte art” in the shape of hearts.
The espresso shot ($2.75) was strong, acidic and made me wince, but had a sweet and fruity aftertaste. Although bitter, the shot was creamy too.
The cappuccino (small, $3.75) had a thick layer of foam which provided a sweet, but not sugary, taste which complemented the strong and distinct flavor of the espresso. The drink was smooth, had no bitterness and is my favorite of Gimme’s offerings.
The beet mocha (small, $4.60) was creamy and unique. The rich chocolate flavor was well blended with the beet syrup, which did not have a distinct taste of beet, but added another element to the drink. Although a mocha, the beverage was not too sweet and had a wonderful aftertaste. Over time, it separated and became grainy, so it would be better to consume the beet mocha quickly.
Gimme only serves four non-coffee drinks: tea, Italian soda, cocoa and chai. The chai latte (small, $3.25) smelled great, but its flavor was very subtle and did not contain enough spice. The drink was thin and tasted more like spiced milk than a regular chai latte. After trying it, I would recommend ordering coffee at Gimme instead, since that is where they excel.
Gimme Coffee is a unique company which focuses on expanding its product selection not in breadth, but in depth. They are committed to serving the highest quality coffee that will satisfy the customers while maintaining a sustainable supply chain. Without a doubt, the best coffee in Ithaca can be found at Gimme. If you decide to swing by Gates Hall for a drink on Fridays, you will probably see me there!
Melanie Metz is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.