Press More Than Impresses

DSC_0302If you’ve driven down Market Street in the last six months, it’s likely you’ve spotted the eye-catching sign at the corner Market and Floyd. Located on the south side of the street, a crisp and bold teal rectangle with black lettering simply says Press on Market, beckoning passersby to one of the most elegant coffee shops ever to hit Louisville.

DSC_0336Owner Bruce Lake opened Press in February after he was contacted by Vickie Yates Brown, former CEO of the UofL Foundation’s Nucleus, who was interested in bringing a coffee shop to the burgeoning startup park that orbits around the Market and Floyd intersection. Lake affirms that the timing was perfect because he was already considering calling it quits at his former business, the Anchorage Cafe. He describes that things had sort of snowballed in Anchorage – what started as a coffee shop turned into breakfast and lunch, and the staff was spread thin. But now, at his new enterprise, his vision is as clear as the bold lines that nuance Press’ interior.

Press on Market is a coffee shop, and a mighty fine one. Lake is fairly new to Louisville, having moved here in 2010 from Connecticut, but he pays admirable respect to his predecessors. “The early movers of independent coffee started way before we got here,” he admits. “I know Heine Brothers’ really got things going, and we of course love the guys over at Sunergos and Quills – just amazing coffee. And Please & Thank You in the neighborhood is just great. But coffee is nowhere near saturation, and there’s room for a lot more we think.”

Indeed, Lake explains that he’s seen a very positive response to Press and the best mix of customers from surrounding businesses and residences, which he knew would be critical to his business’ success: “We just thought, ‘If we’re going to make this work, we’re going to have to attract a big, broad audience.’”

DSC_0273To help accomplish this goal, Lake was dedicated to creating an atmosphere that was at once urban and sophisticated. “I feel like in other places, you kind of face a choice with coffeehouses,” he muses. “You’ve got great little Bohemian places that are fantastic and usually have the best coffee in town, or you’ve got a stylish place with a different look and feel that might be corporate or franchise. But we wanted to strike a balance between those two.”

Press is, of course, local, but Lake wanted to create a fine-tuned ambiance that spoke to experience and style – an aspiration he has successfully achieved. Press is open and clean with ample seating and massive windows that draw customers’ eyes to the bustling streetscape beyond. The walls are decorated with photographs of the local countryside, and a large soffit makes for the ideal acoustics – “We wanted it to not be church-mouse quiet, but we also didn’t want there to be such a din you couldn’t hear yourself talk.” When the weather is at last reliably warm, Press will be opening a resplendent patio, complete with a fire pit, living ivy wall and cantina lights.

The menu features everyone’s favorite coffee beverages made from the beans of the local Good Folks Coffee, which is headed by Matt Argo, a longtime friend of Lake’s. Expectedly, the coffee is simply perfect, and the skill of the baristas is evident in the more complex beverages. Smoothies made from real and raw ingredients are also on the menu and have proven popular with those looking for a healthy boost any time of day.

DSC_0295Meanwhile, like any good coffee shop, there are the treats. “We knew we wanted to have a finite but really good selection of baked goods,” Lake details. “So we thought, ‘We’re going downtown. Let’s look at some of the really iconic local brands. So we get Nord’s doughnuts on Saturdays; we get our bagels every morning from Nancy’s Bagel Grounds; Klaus the German baker makes our pretzel croissants; our muffins and scones come from Breadworks – these are folks people know.”

And there’s so much more still to come from Press, including the possibility of other locations. Whether it’s for an out-of-office meeting, a stop on the way to work or a leisurely respite on the weekend, Press is a welcome addition to the neighborhood – a place that speaks not only to the city’s undeniable modernity but also to its tight-knit and congenial community. VT