By Mackenzie Shuman
If you’ve shown at either HITS Ocala or Summer in the Rockies, the name Gitsie’s Specialty Coffee makes your mouth water. Their scrumptious sweets, splendid coffees and drinks, and delicious snacks are a crowd favorite at both locations. When I asked to interview the two women in charge, Becky Bartleson and Courtney Schweppe, I was greeted with exceptional kindness and big smiles.
Both women are based in Ocala, Florida, but travel with their newfound business. With long backgrounds situated around horses, Bartleson and Schweppe had both been at HITS Ocala about two years ago when they noticed a lack of fun, innovative food choices. They decided to fill that obvious need and came up with the concept of Gitsie’s.
This small truck holds a large variety of snacks and drinks, from their Espresso shots to their Matcha Green Tea; their Avocado Toast to their cookies. When they first started, both were relatively inexperienced in the pastry and coffee making business, but they quickly made allies with local roasters.
“We have roasters in Gainesville, Florida, Strongtree Coffee, and they basically taught us everything. We also source from local pastry chefs, who teach us new things or give us new recipes,” Bartleson said. Their menu is always changing, as they add healthier options to help fuel equestrian athletes, and also take requests from their customers for a high-demand item.
Bartleson’s favorite items on the menu are “our delicious plain-ol’ espresso shots and our drip coffee.” For Schweppe, she says that her favorite is the “coca mocha,” which is a smooth and sweet coffee with added flavors. Though they are opposites in their coffee tastes, both are excellent at helping their customers and catering to their special tastes.
The rest of the summer for Gitsie’s looks pretty simple, with the truck staying at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado for most of it. However, Bartleson said that, “we would love to do more of what we call ‘renegade’ food-trucking, where we would go off location for a day or two to different events around the horse shows.” Red Rocks, different locations in the mountains in Colorado, and local events in Parker are all places they might take their food truck.
“We have our set horse show circuits that sustain us, but now we want to peek out and see where else we can go,” Bartleson said. Previously, they have attended triathlons and other events in the Ocala area.
For Bartleson, Gitsie’s is a full-time job, and she loves every minute of it. “I love being able to be at a horse show and talk to all the amazing people here, it’s just kind of the best of both worlds with my workplace being in the middle of a horse show,” she said. Schweppe is also very happy, saying that, “I love it because I can also horse show in the Adult Amateurs, so it’s great to go from showing straight to work at the same place.”
Their exceptional service and friendly smiles are hard to miss wherever they go. With plans to expand and obtain more food trucks, you can expect them to be at your favorite horse show soon. If you are lucky enough to have Gitsie’s Specialty Coffee at your local horse show, make sure to stop by to say hi and order from their menu of delicious pastries, snacks, and coffees.