Gimme! recently shipped me of some of their Leftist espresso in what felt like a covert operation, although a more objective observer might simply describe it as convoluted. Gabe from Gimme! thought I might appreciate this blend after reading my review of Gimme’s Mott Street Cafe and the Brazil beans I purchased there. While I happened to be conveniently visiting New York at the time of the intended Leftist delivery, I had too little free time on this trip to make it down to the cafe. Shipping it home created other problems so the final delivery arrived at my New York hotel from which I shipped it home myself.
Safely and securely delivered, I produced a couple of decent shots on day 5 only to be met with a bevy of sink shots – highly bitter – on day 6. I dialed-in with abandon, finding it tough to hit the sweet spot, despite crystal clear brewing instructions from Gabe:
- peak on day 6
- 19.5 g
- 199 degrees F
- 26+ seconds (possibly as high as 31).
I theorized, and Gabe agreed that it might have had something to do with that day’s (minor) heat wave, but perhaps it was also the peculiarities of my machine. On day 7, I flipped off the machine right before the boiler cycled and that seemed to cool the water temperature just enough to produce a quality shot. It seemed my ideal temperature (my machine is an open boiler so this temperature reading is based off two probes stuck in the tank) was closer to 196-197. The dose didn’t matter too much, although my double basket and low-clearance dispersion screen rarely liked more than 19 g so I stuck with something closer to 18 g. More important than the dose was pull time. My machine yielded the best shots with something in the 30-35 second range. These specs pretty much held true over the week and a half I consumed it.
What I got with my tweaked recipe was a shot bearing substantial, light crema and was pretty spot-on with the bag description (see the photo). The espresso had a velvety mouthfeel and a nice burst of bitter (in a good way) baker’s chocolate along with some dark and lingering smokey notes. It was neither a sweet shot nor a fruity one, but it did conjure phantom fruit notes along with vaguely herbal ones. It was like my brain was reading between the lines. The Leftist also produced a delicious, but unsweet milk drink, and brewed a quality French Press coffee, if you happen to like darker roasted coffees (which I generally do not).
What’s great about the Leftist is that it’s simply different than many equal caliber coffees out there these days; it eschews fruit bombiness and delves deep into a darker roast. It’s balanced without being bright or sweet and its edgy profile makes an impression. It seems like the perfect coffee for New York, especially in winter.
This association with time and place, however, may be one reason that the Leftist fell a bit short for me in terms of likability. A Northern California Spring day may simply be the wrong place and time to truly savor the leftist – political affiliations aside. Also culprit may be my machine. My shots lacked a fullness of body (typical of spring-driven lever machines) that I think might nicely compliment the Leftist’s more restricted flavor profile. I noticed that a slight “assist” of the lever on my part produced a more pleasing shot and I seem to remember liking the espresso at Gimme! better for this reason.