October 6, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 46°F

Life & Culture

Ithaca coffee shops pair sweet treats with ambiance

Collegetown Bagels

With three locations around Ithaca, Collegetown Bagels is the coffee joint of choice for many college students. The shops are always busy with customers coming in and out, some with laptops who sit at one of the numerous tables and many looking to grab a coffee for the road.

The chalkboard menu gives customers what feels like endless options of bagels, breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, ice cream, smoothies and coffee. CTB’s originality comes from its signature drinks. With changing themes, there’s always something new to try.

Katherine Banko, CTB’s marketing director, said every six months they come out with new specialty drinks. From spring of last year until October, there were more than 10 drinks all based on television show characters. One was the “Walter White,” a sweet white chocolate iced coffee based on the main character in the popular show “Breaking Bad.” The menu now features drinks in the theme of “Good and Evil.” Among the 12 drinks are “Superman,” a quad-shot Irish cream latte, and “Spider-man,” a double-shot cherry mochaccino. Banko said their most popular drink right now is a soy milk latte with a double shot of espresso and salted caramel that they call the “Wonder Woman.” With the temperature dropping, there is also a plethora of warm drinks to try, including a pumpkin latte and caramel cider.


Whitney Gilbert, a barista at Collegetown Bagels, prepares one of the shop’s espresso drinks. JILLIAN FLINT/THE ITHACAN

With other locations in Collegetown, on The Commons and on the East Hill, Banko said CTB’s locations cater to a wide demographic, including college students, professors and working-class families.

“At Collegetown, we cater more to students,” Banko said. “Downtown it’s younger families, the working class down there — everyone that works in The Commons. East Hill, we cater to a lot of Cornell professors.”

Banko said CTB is different from other coffee shops because of the diverse menu that offers food as well as drinks made from a majority of local produce and ingredients.

“We try to source as much local produce, meat, ingredients as we can,” she said. “We also do all fair-trade coffee.”

The Shop

A mere 30-second walk around the corner from Collegetown Bagels is The Shop. When customers walk into the building located at 312 E. Seneca St., they immediately see baristas preparing drinks behind the counter with a simple black, white and blue menu as the backdrop. Adding to its visual character, there’s a tattoo shop within the coffee joint, where customers sometimes get a glimpse of someone getting a tattoo.

Barista Britt Kline said the atmosphere of The Shop is easy to focus in and offers what students need to take care of their work.

“It’s super chill,” Kline said. “Lots of people come here to study. There’s lots of tables and Wi-Fi.”

Regular customer and Ithaca resident Heather Lambert said it’s the people who frequent the shop that make it a place she enjoys visiting.

“I like the hipster crowd,” she said. “There’s an alternative crowd of people that come here.”

Kline had even more praise for The Shop’s customers and said the business has a particularly friendly atmosphere.

“It’s just such a sweet place,” she said. “Our regulars are awesome and really nice people.”


The Shop barista Ashley Cake steams milk for a cappuccino, one of their most popular items. KAIT TURKETT/THE ITHACAN

The Shop offers traditional hot and iced coffee as well as macchiatos, cappuccinos, lattes and mochas. Additionally, it sells juice, local New York tea, hot cocoa and Italian sodas — made from soda water poured over flavored syrup. A feature it offers is taking 25 cents off a purchase if a customer brings his or her own cup.

Kline said other than their assorted drinks, it’s the vibe of The Shop that draws customers.

“It’s a nice, gentle atmosphere,” she said.

Gimme! Coffee

In 2000, Ithaca became home to the first Gimme! Coffee, which now has two locations: 430 N. Cayuga St. and 506 W. State St. For coffee lovers, Gimme! Coffee offers several traditional coffee brews, including French roast, mocha java and holiday blends.

Sam Queen, manager of the State Street location, said there is coffee for everyone at Gimme! Coffee.

“We have 21 different coffees that we’re offering right now,” he said. “Depending on how you make your coffee, what you like about coffee and what country of the world you want it to come from, we can find you something.”


A cup of Gimme Coffee brand coffee sits on a table. The shop offers a wide array of coffees from all over the world. KAIT TURKETT/THE ITHACAN

Ithaca resident Trevor Wirsig finds that Gimme! Coffee, located conveniently near his home, is a good place to do work a few times a week.

“There’s lots of seating and good coffee,” he said. “I like to sit by the window and watch people walk by.”

Queen said the shop is modern, though still offers a classic and community-centered feel.

“It’s a little bit industrial, but still cozy,” he said. “We have two very large communal tables that make people share the space and make a community feeling.”

Dolce Delight

Located at 1080 Danby Road just minutes from Ithaca College, Dolce Delight is one of the closest off-campus coffee choices for students. When customers enter the brightly lit building they’re met by yellow tablecloths, a colorful chalkboard menu and decorations to match the season.

To complement the lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and coffees, the menu offers breakfast sandwiches, omelets, pastries, soups, smoothies, Purity ice cream, pies and cookies, among other things. For those who prefer the sweet taste of coffee in ice cream or sugary drinks, owner Maria Salino says the “Purity Sleepers Awake Milkshake” with Gimme! Coffee brand coffee is a popular choice.


Senior Blake Wetherbee takes care of some work while enjoying a cup of coffee at Dolce Delight. KAIT TURKETT/THE ITHACAN

Nearly every item on the menu is made in-house, something Salino values because of her love for creativity.

“We love to create here, so it’s a lot of fun,” Salino said. “We try to change it up a lot. It depends on the season.”

Salino, who also owns Italian Carryout located directly next door, established Dolce Delight six years ago. She said customers are always greeted at Dolce Delight, unlike at many chains where she feels that customers aren’t welcomed when they walk in.

“The one thing that is really important to me is customer service,” she said. “We want you to feel like you’re in my home.”