Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gimme Coffee

We had not heard about Gimme coffee until a friend introduced us to it a month ago. With every cup of gimme coffee we learnt more about it. We heard more, we read more. We realized that it was not just a cup of coffee, it was not just a cafeteria, it was the whole new culture that we were getting absorbed into.

Here’s what it is. Gimme coffee is the neighbourhood coffee place. The first Gimme coffee shop opened at Cayuga Street in Ithaca, Upstate New York in the year 2000. Thereafter, more outlets opened in Ithaca and at Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York city. Soon, this small artisan roastery became a known name as it began to feature in the news. The GQ magazine said: “This is serious stuff, seriously good”. The Forbes Traveller wrote: “Yes, there’s life beyond Starbucks”

So, what made Gimme coffee so good? It’s the roasting, they said. I’m sharing here a link to Gimme Roastery on their website which is an absolute must-read! With this kind of attention being poured into a cup of coffee, it had to be good. They also share with you on their website, information about the farms where the coffee is sourced from on their ‘sustainability’ page where they talk about organic coffees, relationship coffees and so on.

For us, the first cup we experienced was at the Green Street outlet in Ithaca. The following weekend, we were cajoled by our friend into visiting the outlet at Cayuga street. Did we really have to visit Gimme coffee again?! We had only a few weekends in Ithaca and all we seemed to be doing with them was going from one Gimme coffee place to another. But, of course, now we do think it was all worth it! And, it’s not that I have not wanted to share with others our very own ‘chai’ culture which I wrote about earlier at: what is chai

So, while we were at this Cayuga place on the Sunday morning, we looked around us and the place was filled with young people sipping their coffee and browsing the net. In India, we gradually moved over from the ‘Indian coffee shop’ to the ‘Café coffee day’. Actually, not quite. The people who visited the Indian coffee shop were a different generation from the ones who “hang out” at the Café Coffee day. Of course, there’s a few of us who belong to that previous generation who are still around and go to the Café Coffee day as well, for the “conversations” part of the coffee experience although I must say we just can never converse in the midst of all that music and din as effortlessly as the youngsters do these days!

The Café coffee day experience in India is probably more comparable to the Starbucks experience in the American city. Gimme coffee is a bit different. It’s not about “being on the go”. It’s not about “conversations”. It’s more about the coffee. As we waited for our coffee at the Cayuga place, I saw a book on their shelves – ‘Café Life New York: an Insider’s Guide’ It was a book about New York city’s neighbourhood cafes. I browsed through it with great interest and came across these lines about the Gimme coffee: ‘Nobody comes to Gimme coffee for its décor, or its roominess, they come for the excellent coffee’ That said it all.

This reminds me that I have earlier written about the Stolen Coffee room which was really only about the décor because it’s objects from Chor bazaar made it so special. And now, this sharing about the artisan roasted coffee at the neighbourhood café is more about how one experiences a city and imbibes the culture of its people as you walk the streets, spend time at the café and have the opportunity to know experiences that are special to those who live there.

There was always a prelude to our visit to Gimme coffee. A past experience that had to be shared or a story about it’s many flavours, since we were going to be able to sample just a few. There is the 'La Primavera Decaf' coffee with its taste of sweet cocoa, currant and brown sugar and the 'Finca San Luis' which tastes of crisp citrus, grape, apple and peach with an aroma that reminds of orange and fresh florals. This was how deep the experience could go! You could say this was way beyond the real thing, that it was about branding or about romanticizing the experience. Well, whatever it was, we enjoyed it!

And, then there were times when we came back home and continued to talk about coffee! We talked about R.K.Narayan’s essays on coffee and our friend shared this YouTube video about the television sitcom Seinfeld, (another cultural phenomenon in America) and we watched an episode from ‘The Opposite’ on the coffee table book about coffee tables! That was the epilogue that seems to have made the coffee experience totally immortal for us!!

The taste of the coffee lingers on, only this time the aroma ties up with much more because in America it was the coffee lens through which we saw life in the city.


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post with wonderful pictures esp. the first one!

I think loud music is not good for any generation!
They speak prolly cos they are lazy to get up!

Anjali said...

Wow! These American can really go deep into anything they are after whether it is coffee or R&D. Admire them for it. Good to hear you really enjoyed the experience. BTW Stolen Coffee room probably is reading what we bloggers write and they have now started selling breads and more bakes. They also have started art soirees which seem to get them full house on weekends. I love it how each coffee shop has their own strategy for business, that gives them the uniqueness.

Indian Bazaars said...

Divenita: Thanks. I guess sometimes it's just the choice of music, if one doesn't like it, it just seems so much louder!

Anjali: So true. I also think it's really interesting how coffee shops do things differently to bring in customers. I'm reminded of the India Coffee shop. They seem to do nothing! I came across this interesting post, also about coffee: