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The Downtown Grind: A Review for You!

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

I recently had the opportunity to escape my small apartment and get out of my own

comfort zone, thanks to a few friends dragging me along to a small coffee shop known as

“Downtown Grind” in Elmira. As someone who works as a barista and has fully embraced a

caffeine-addicted lifestyle and who ADORES the art of coffee (primarily espresso), I was

honestly really excited at the prospect of venturing into an unknown and unfamiliar coffee shop.

The first impression of the place is good. It has a cute interior that is very welcoming and introduces itself upfront as a safe-space, which is important to me as a customer. The bar area is not as impressive as Soulful Cup for example, but it seemed that the space was well utilized to be as efficient as possible despite being small. I ordered a quad shot with a splash of oat milk and was pleasantly surprised. This is a location with a non-automated espresso machine, which is a lot more important than one might expect. Their espresso was sweet enough to not warrant a splash of milk to soften the acidity of pure espresso, which is how you know that the parameters of the machine itself are correct, and the barista operating it is able to maximize the machine to its fullest potential. It’s really impressive, and makes me giddy- I unfortunately operate an automated machine and have no control over the shots of espresso I pull myself, and cannot wait until the day that I am able to grind my own beans into the portafilter, tamp it, and try my hand at slowly improving the quality of my shots over time. (I’m jealous.. lol) Something that this location featured that I was excited for was boba. They specialize very heavily in tea as well, which is great in my opinion as teas are often a forgotten partner to coffee. Pairing this with boba was a blast to try, as many other locations I’ve visited don’t have it, or if they do there is a lack of options. I had a lavender tea with kiwi popping boba, which was great. The tea was delicious, and the boba was very fun- almost too sweet, but that's me having the world’s pickiest taste buds.

As far as food goes, I think this is where the cafe shined the most. My friends and I ordered a variety of food items, which were cutely fall-themed. It makes me excited to return during the different seasons to try out their menu options then and was refreshing as opposed to Starbucks and Soulful Cup’s pre-packaged pastries and hot-items thrown into a merry-chef. Their cheese-toast featured an amazingly aged cheese on a high-quality piece of toast with apple slices on top. Their butter bread had a homemade pumpkin butter spread topped with whipped cream. It tasted just like Fall.

They also have a variety of sandwiches, one being their bacon on an English muffin which is what we got. I’m not sure exactly how to explain the quality of their food items besides saying that we all went “Mmm! Oh my god!” after each bite. It doesn’t really stop there, though- their menu features Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-free options for

everything.

For cafe’s, inclusivity should be a top priority for them as they all strive to be a “third place”- to quote Starbucks- a place where people can come and sit down and focus on what they may need to do while enjoying an energy-boost. However, despite this being a goal for each cafe, many fail to implement menu options to make it properly inclusive towards everyone.

This, I think, is Downtown Grind’s biggest accomplishment and the most impressive thing that I witnessed during my visit. If you are like me, someone with no dietary restrictions, this may be something that you’ve never really even considered. However, for people who can’t have lactose, or those who are vegan, or even those with celiacs who cannot process gluten, I imagine it gets very frustrating to never have a list of good options to choose from. It’s good to see proper inclusivity in a dietary regard. That effort alone shows genuine care for their customers. In conclusion, I’ll be returning to this cafe a lot more times to try more drinks and definitely get more food items as well. I highly recommend that you, also, kidnap some of your friends and take them to Downtown Grind, just as I was taken hostage. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

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