gimme coffee

Just as Starbucks announces its plan to offer free wi-fi -- practically urging the New Yorkers who use the chain as a bathroom network to move in -- a fresh breed of coffee shop arrives. The new guy is the coffee bar whose clientele judges its caffeine dealer not by the number of electrical outlets but by the quality of the drink. The frontrunner here is Gimme! Coffee. Having gained a following with its Williamsburg shop, Ithaca-based Gimme! has landed in Nolita. It has no seating, and so the Italian-sized beverages (a small is eight ounces) can either be consumed at the no-frills steel counter or taken to go with a Balthazar poppy seed Danish ($3.25) or currant-oat scone ($2.50). The drink menu is equally pared-down: A mocha ($3.35) is about as fancy as it gets. Instead of syrupy concoctions, the meticulous baristas serve up artful cappuccinos ($3), lattes ($3.25), espressos ($2), and regular old joe, which you can order brewed by the cup in the high-tech Clover for the same $1.45. Watching the Freemans-esque staff work with the house-roasted beans draws crowds. The same can be said for another blink-and-you'll-miss-it coffee bar newcomer, Abra├žo, in the East Village, that uses Counter Culture grounds but offers more in terms of ambiance (think a Brazilian record collection) and food, including super-moist olive oil cake ($3) and fluffy, pine nut-specked ricotta fritters ($5). Looks like there may be hope for coffee connoisseurs yet. 228 Mott St., (212) 226-4011

Comments...