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Press Coffee moves from Coralville to Iowa City
New ownership breathes life into French press cafe
IOWA CITY — On Nov. 20, new owners Lisa Edwards and Katie Ford closed up Press Coffee in Coralville to move to 1120 N. Dodge St. in Iowa City.
But to the pair, who in August took ownership of the shop previously tucked away near Coralville’s Brown Deer Golf Club, their passion for community-oriented coffee is more than a numbers game.
The cafe opened Sunday after much anticipation.
When the previous owners announced their intent to close, Ford got to work to save the shop she had worked at since its inception in 2013. For her and Edwards, the shop felt so part of their natural lives that it felt unnatural to end it.
“I didn’t think Press was done. It didn’t seem like a concept that was ready to die,” she said. “In a town of pour-over and mass brewing, I knew we had something good, but we just didn’t have the (right) location.”
So in a business move of passion, former owners Chad Andrews, Ryan From, Sam Thibodeaux and Swen Larson sold it to the pair for a new vision.
“They wanted us to be able to take it and run with it,” Ford said. “Nobody (else) had our vision.”
If you go
What: Press Coffee
Where: 1120 N. Dodge St., Iowa City.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Details: Seating area, to-go and drive-through service available.
Phone: (319) 887-1500
Those who have driven by their new location over the past few months, not far from Interstate 80, may recognize what previously looked like a house with a bewildering multitude of paint samples displayed on the side.
“Some people really questioned (when) we had all of our color swatches, tiles and the random green door,” Ford said with a chuckle. “They were like ‘Are you guys all right? Why?‴
But, as a loyal customer told them, the new location looks “like the inside of our hearts” — colorful, fun, authentic.
With a much more visible location and a drive-through, the new owners have found renewed optimism for their venture’s focus on French press coffee. Previously, their Coralville location on East Grantview Drive struggled in the afternoons, forcing them to close at 5 or 6 p.m.
Compared to pour-over coffee, in which water and coffee grounds hang out for a minimal amount of time, French press’ strength comes from brewing coffee with water for four minutes, like tea. The time marinating allows more flavor and natural oils to come out that are missed with other methods of brewing, allowing for a deeper, full-bodied flavor that’s not bitter if done correctly.
With that signature as one of Press Coffee’s largest distinctions from other local coffee shops, Ford and Edwards have come up with innovations like the 51-ounce press to keep up with the morning rush to ensure customers don’t need to wait four minutes for every order.
But if customers have time to sit and savor a sip, the experience brings a new aesthetic. Personal coffee presses are delivered on a tray with a cup for cream, bringing a relaxed vibe that many missed out on during the pandemic.
“With the pandemic, there was not a lot of that,” Ford said. “I’m hoping they taste a difference from what they may get at a gas station or another drive-up coffee window. It’s noticeably different.”
In addition to the press, Press Coffee has a few other unique offerings you won’t find at chain drive-through coffee shops.
“I’ve tried a lot of chai, and I’m pretty confident saying no one’s is as good as ours,” Edwards said.
Hand-pressed lemonades with lavender or blackberry, sweet and sour cold brews with lemonade, and cold brew lattes featuring cold brew concentrate, milk and added flavoring are something to try.
If you’re looking for other novel offerings, the Sugarbottom Sunrise with orange juice, caramel and espresso or the Butter Beer Latte with cinnamon, toffee nut, vanilla and caramel might be your ticket.
Ford encourages customers to try new things, offering to make their usual drink if they’re not a fan.
In addition to the drive-through, the larger space will allow the Press team to make their own pastries and offer light cafe fare, something they couldn’t do in Coralville. Soon, they hope to offer breakfast sandwiches, soup and salad.
With a fresh start on a clean slate, the cafe’s new location will be anything but modern and minimalistic. Bringing the heart of their passion to a new space, Edwards and Ford have thrifted furniture from around the state to bring warmth through a quirky, eclectic atmosphere in a building that was originally a house built in the 1800s.
“A lot of times now, the trend with coffee shops is clean, minimalistic, metal,” Ford said. “But I want to have that feeling of being homey.”
Looking around the shop, customers will see parts of the business partners’ personalities in every corner. Local art curated by Edwards, a former art major, adorns the walls. Trinkets collected by Ford draw the eyes to features they’ve kept or expanded on from their previous location, like a board game collection and a library of loaner books.
The new cafe also incorporates suggestions from customers at the old location, like lower tables and chairs, and a kids’ corner full of toys and games.
“That sense of community around here, we’re already getting (it),” Edwards said before their opening. “We’ve had to blockade the door to keep people from coming in.”
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