When stars align, magic happens.
And so it was for Yasmine and Deshundrix Wooten. Both professional photographers, the Wootens had been out on a photo shoot and came across a place for rent in Old Town Temecula. Yasmine, a lover of good coffee, had always wanted to open a coffee shop and here it was, an opportunity standing right in front of them.
Located just an hour north of San Diego, Temecula translates in Spanish as “Where the sun breaks through the mist.” Wine may have put Southern California’s Temecula region on the map with its 40-plus wineries and more to come. But its colorful history has been celebrated far longer.
Its first residents were the Temecula Indians who lived in the surrounding hills. In 1859, the first post office was established here, and the town became one of the stops along the Southwest’s famous Butterfield Stage route. And in 1882, the Santa Fe Railway came through the valley.
Temecula had its share of gunfights in the saloons, bank robberies, fires, floods, and visits by many Hollywood celebrities in the days of the “Old West.”
Today, the pedestrian-friendly 12-block neighborhood is lively, festive and filled with remnants of its storied past. More than a dozen properties dating back to the 1890s have been repurposed and reopened along its wooden boardwalks.
The Press Espresso is located in a historic building just off Temecula’s main drag. The first locally-owned coffee shop was welcomed with open arms when they opened their doors in 2016. What makes this coffee shop so popular with its customers are its handcrafted and creative artisanal gourmet coffees and teas.
Coffee beans are supplied from small coffee farms in some of the best coffee-growing regions in the world. Yasmine says their number one favorite, however, is Ethiopian “because beans from there have the fruity, chocolatey taste we love best.”
Beans are roasted in-house. Syrups and sauces for the coffees are made from scratch almost daily by Yasmine to ensure their coffees and teas are free of artificial flavors or colorings. Loose-leaf top quality teas are hand selected from a local spice and tea merchant.
One of the best smells on earth has to be coffee in the morning. Walking into Press Espresso, it’s not just the aroma of fresh-brewed coffees we noticed. It was also a melding of amazing scents wafting through the air—cinnamon, butterscotch and coconut that was so enticing. Specialty coffees are like none we’ve ever heard of or tasted before. Same with their splendidly flavored teas.
A chalkboard lists daily hot and cold specials in addition to regular menu items like espresso, cappuccino, and mochas. On the day of our visit, a foggy, chilly spring morning, we opted for a Mayan Mocha Cappuccino topped with shaved dark chocolate and a London Fog tea—lavender-infused simple syrup in Earl Grey topped with cream.
The cappuccino was the creamiest we’d ever tasted anywhere with its smooth chocolaty richness.
The London Fog was an ideal choice for this type of morning taking us back to our visits to England’s charming tea shops. Lemony and malty, the syrup and cream were a perfect addition to a tea bursting with delightful flavor.
Other hot specials of the day included an aromatic Honey Lavender Latte and a Tiramisu Latte, one of the patron’s favorites made with rum, vanilla, and cocoa then topped with a ladyfinger. Cold specials were a Butterscotch Shaken Cold Brew, and an Iced Flamingo—hibiscus tea infused with vanilla then topped with a splash of cream.
A local bakery delivers pastries each morning in the Old Town. Cupcakes, croissants, muffins, and scones filling antique carts are eagerly bought up to accompany the hot beverages. The buttery croissant was fresh, flaky and fulfilling to say the least. Homemade granola is also available.
Baristas charm patrons with a smile and efficient, caring customer service. One young lady who had just received her order turned to us and said: “This place is off the charts fabulous and I’m a barista from Oregon!”
Press Espresso’s interior is an inviting mix of eclectic and modern. Antique tables hold natural products for sale like candles, lotions, cookies, and chocolates —all made locally or in nearby California regions.
One table’s seats are made from tree logs. Another furniture is made with a hammered metal. A small sitting room contains an inviting sofa and comfy chairs.
One thing is for sure. Opening a locally-owned coffee shop has been a big hit with the residents of Temecula. But even for visitors like us, it was an absolute treat to visit a place that is not only unique and out-of-the-ordinary but fun and memorable too.
An unknown author said, “Coffee is the drink that warms up the mornings of the world.” In a historic town on a chilly overcast morning, The Press Espresso was a perfect way to warm up with classy artisan coffee and teas, and then greet the sunshine as we departed the café.
Photos and article by Noreen L Kompanik