Restaurant Review: Emerald City Press
Stop by Emerald City Press for espresso soft-serve and fresh flowers with your morning coffee
Reviewed by Daniel Mottola, Fri., Oct. 3, 2008
Mon.-Fri., 6am-5pm; Sat.-Sun., 8am-5pm
Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm; Saturday-Sunday, 8am-5pm
Emerald City Press doesn't just have what it takes to be one of Austin's top coffee shops; it's also the unique purveyor of two items sure to uplift any downhearted soul: espresso soft-serve and fresh flowers. Located near the corner of Ninth and Lamar, Emerald City opened in March after stylishly repurposing an ungainly former photo-lab building into a sleek walk-up and drive-through cafe.
Animated owner Emily Fleming-Nash, a native of the nearby Clarksville neighborhood and veteran of local caffeine institutions Austin Java and Jo's, said she wanted to open a place that was walkable and bikeable from the neighborhood. Pending some zoning hurdles, she plans to add a seating area out back along Shoal Creek.
On the hot afternoon I first dropped by, the espresso-drenched, low-fat, organic soft-serve was probably the most satisfying pick-me-up to be had legally. Beverage highlights include Katz organic coffee and espresso, agave lemonade, an assortment of teas (hot and iced), and 12-hour cold-brewed iced toddy coffee. The food menu reads like a tour of Austin's local culinary delights: Tacodeli breakfast tacos, Boomerang's veggie pies, pastries from Upper Crust Bakery, Lone Star Kolaches, Ken's Donuts and spicy samosas, and sandwiches from Sweetish Hill Bakery. Gluten-free sweets from local dipDunk Cookies are also around, as are sinful snacks such as Mary Louise Butters Brownies.
Not to be outdone by other environmentally progressive coffee dealers, Emerald City offers only compostable, corn-based disposable cups and cutlery, explained barista Johnny Walker. In addition, it donates all its coffee grounds to a nearby school's veggie garden and diverts most of its refuse from the trash at an on-site recycling center. Emerald City even offers a discount to operators of fuel-efficient autos at the drive-through.
On one afternoon visit, customer Steve Sides – who presented a nearly filled frequent customer punch card – told me he returned for the always fun staff, quality morning coffee, and, of course, the espresso soft-serve. Sides' son Grant was thoroughly enjoying a soft-serve slathered with chocolate syrup. I got crunchy coconut flakes on mine.
Also notable is Emerald City's expansive selection of magazines and newspapers from Austin and worldwide. Where else can you snag a copy of Dr. Andrew Weil's Self Healing; get jazzed on a healthy, coffee-laden desert; and walk away with a bunch of flowers with which to woo your lover?