Nomad Espresso: Gimme! Coffee

Where do I start with Gimme! Coffee?

They’ve been listed among the best coffee bars in New York, heralded as part of “espresso’s new wave,” and—aw, who am I kidding, they’re my hometown coffee bar. Gimme! set up shop in town when I was in middle school. By which I mean the point at which a cup of coffee represents all the privileges and luxuries of adulthood, and is, ahem, just within your reach, maybe, if your parents are feeling extra nice after school and you ask politely.

When let loose on the town in seventh grade, my friends and I would go to Gimme!, slurp our coffees greedily and then proceed to leap around the park in the semi-drunken state that caffeine sometimes seems to bestow on those under the age of fourteen. My mother had an art show at the first Brooklyn location when it opened that year, and the friendly baristas made me all the fancy espresso drinks I could imbibe while my mother hung her show. The point is, I won’t even pretend an unbiased view towards Gimme!—as far as I’m concerned, they are coffee and always have been.

So naturally I’ve had to pay them a few visits since moving to the city, in both their Brooklyn and Manhattan locations, each of which mirrors the atmosphere of its respective borough. While both are minimalist by most standards, the Brooklyn locations are a bit larger with limited seating, and the Manhattan location is really just a hole in the wall with a couple of benches outside. The spareness in decor belies almost fanatical attention to detail about the coffee itself. Beans are chosen from farmers around the world, all of whom the company has a working, fair-trade relationship with. Said beans are roasted somewhat locally in Ithaca (represent!) and brewed with care by impeccable baristas.  Their espresso drinks in particular have a well-deserved reputation—in my opinion, they make the best cappuccino around. It packs a deep, nutty, flavorful espresso punch balanced by perfectly heated milk topped by foam that manages to be light and rich all at once.

They tout themselves as “New York’s ultimate no-nonsense espresso roaster,” and if a bit lofty, the designation is deserved. All the attention really goes to the coffee, and that’s certainly evident in their wholesale operations. Rather than open up a whole bunch of shops, Gimme! prefers to keep their espresso bar operations limited, and have greatly expanded the reach of their distinctive silver bags of beans. These are highly reccomended. The labels describing the flavor profile of each roast can be taken however seriously you want. I confess to taking them seriously, but my friend nearly died laughing when he read that one tasted “complex but user-friendly,” and I admit he had a point.

New York, as the NYT articles linked above are both quick to mention, isn’t historically much of a coffee town. Seattle and San Francisco are better known as coffeeshop meccas with sit-all-day cafes and artisanal espresso. It’s true that when I think of New York and coffee, the first image that comes to mind is a horde of harried businesspeople running to the subway, clutching flavorless scorched coffee in to-go cups.

To that extent, even though it’ll always be associated with my hometown, Gimme! also feels like the perfect coffee bar for New York City. They’ll make you a mean, perfectly-balanced cappuccino—and they won’t judge you for taking it to go.

Gimme Coffee

495 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY/ 107 Roebling St, Brooklyn, NY / 228 Mott St, Manhattan, NY

Best Espresso Drink: cappuccino

Favorite Roasts: Miralvalle, Hartmann Honey, Mocha Java

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