An Australian real estate magnate recently made headlines with his thoughts on why young adults find home ownership an increasingly distant goal. For Tim Gurner, one cause is overspending on lattes and avocado toast. Various responses have noted that buying a house can be an insurmountable task for even the most frugal. Whether Gurner is right or wrong, it’s interesting that his comments have come at the same time that Press Coffee, a local purveyor of both lattes and avocado toast, has been expanding, mostly at locations in apartment buildings.
It’s likely Tim Gurner, based on the other side of the world in Melbourne, has never heard of Press Coffee, but local aficionados know it as one of the area’s best and most successful coffee roasters. Press has recently accelerated its growth with several new locations, two of which are situated by light rail. In central Phoenix, where Downtown meets Midtown, Press is now is the ground floor of the Muse apartment building, across from McDowell / Central station. In Tempe, Press has found a home in the Nexa apartments, just a block west of Dorsey / Apache station.
At both locations, Press has invested in decor and design. Both shops have a clean, modern, and uncluttered feel. At Muse, the theme is red. The Arizona-shaped bike racks outside, the railings on the patio, and accents throughout the interior repeat the color. At Nexa, the colors are not quite as bold, but the look is still contemporary. A bike rack is found at the west end of the Nexa building, next to Press’ patio. Both stores have areas with lounge-style seating and artsy coffee table books, as well as plenty of tables suitable for those ordering light meals.
As its name makes clear, the first priority at Press is coffee. The shops offer two house blends as everyday choices. Early Edition is the standard drip coffee, described as having notes of dark chocolate and peanut butter. Its espresso equivalent is Twitch, with similar flavors but a creamier body. Both are good matches for milk or sweetener. Press also offers a selection of single origin coffees, often with bolder, more nuanced tastes and described with esoteric details such as the altitude at which the beans are grown and the method by which they are processed.
While many of Press’ most enthusiastic customers enjoy its myriad coffees on their own terms, Press also prepares a full range of espresso drinks, including, of course, lattes. A selection of hot and iced teas are also available, with the possibility of combining both tea and coffee in a dirty chai — sweet, spiced tea with a shot espresso for an extra boost of flavor and caffeine. The Muse location in Phoenix has also obtained a liquor license, allowing for the addition of craft beer on tap and a selection of wines by the glass to its beverage repertoire.
Pastry, a mainstay of many coffee houses, is not a big emphasis here. There’s always a small selection of croissants, cookies, and muffins produced off site, but savory foods seem to be the way in which Press has chosen to innovate with its sustenance. Avocado toast is offered in several varieties, ranging from the vegetarian caprese with tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar to the meaty protein toast with cotija cheese, bacon, and sausage. Somewhere in between those lies the BFT with its combination of bacon, feta cheese, and cherry tomatoes.
Avocado shows up in several sandwiches as well. The turkey panini benefits from an avocado spread alongside more traditional components such as Swiss cheese and sliced tomato. At Muse, the only Press location with a full kitchen, new “R&D” entrees are featured. Recent offerings have included a California chicken sandwich and a Southwest chicken sandwich, both with, naturally, avocado spread. For an avocado-free lunch, there are straightforward options like an arugula salad with quinoa and a grilled cheese sandwich made with a choice of bread.
Press originated on the far north side of Phoenix and then focused on north Scottsdale. Its current strategy, however, seems to embrace the region’s urban centers, including not only its locations close to current light rail stations, but also one in the Biltmore neighborhood, a logical destination for a future light rail extension, even if such a route is not on the current map. It’s unclear if frequent consumption of lattes and avocado toast really makes it more difficult to save for a house, but with these new locations, at least it’s possible to rent a nice apartment upstairs.
June 27, 2021 update: The Press Coffee location at the Muse apartment building has closed. A new location in downtown Phoenix will replace it.
1221 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe AZ 85281
Dorsey / Apache Station