By Dylan Olive | Oct. 25, 2022
In July 2021, Christina and Paul Needham achieved their dream of opening an independent coffeeshop and bookstore in downtown Lakeland: Pressed Books & Coffee – leaving a long-lasting impact on the Lakeland community ever since.
The idea behind Pressed started a few years ago with a “maybe I’ll do that someday” mindset. Needham spent the last decade working as a music educator, but she began gravitating towards that idea again amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her husband revisited the possibility of opening their own bookstore and coffeeshop, and everything started to become a reality in Spring 2021.
The grand opening for Pressed Books & Coffee was July 29, 2021, with the vision of using books to engage with the community. They also wanted a space where people would want to come and stay; “perhaps read, create, study and even work remotely, this is when the combination of ‘books and coffee’ came to be,” Needham said.
“The love of books has been passed down to us through both of our families,” Needham said. “In our personal lives, books have been the starting point of self-discovery, growth, and great conversations.”
First walking into Pressed is like walking into any regular bookstore. There are books all over the place on bookshelves and tables. But as you keep walking, it turns into a regular modern-day coffeeshop full of workspaces, relaxing chairs and couches for people to sit.
“The environment is what sets it apart,” sophomore James Simpson said. “It’s more laid back and more lowkey. It’s different than going to Black and Brew or Mitchell’s.”
The idea of a bookstore and a coffee shop is what differentiates Pressed from other local coffeeshops in the area because it attracts both coffee and book lovers. Entering Pressed, you will find all sorts of people of varying ages enjoying coffee, reading a book or working on their laptops.
“It’s such a unique idea to combine a coffeeshop and bookstore, and it encourages people to read while they sip, which just adds to the really nice atmosphere,” sophomore Hannah Noll said. “I also love that there’s a used book section, too, as well as locally-made artwork you can purchase.”
The book selection is not that of the extent of a full-blown bookstore, but there is still a large array of books to choose from in various genres. There are children’s books, current best-sellers from popular authors like Colleen Hoover and classics like “The Great Gatsby.” There are books from local authors and a used book section that serves as a cheaper option for purchasing books.
Needham wishes to triple the number of books Pressed has on the shelves. She listens to her customers to see what kind of books they are wanting to see, as well as researching new releases and listening to podcasts to see what would be best to offer. Taking time to visit other indie bookstores also helps to see what works for them.
For coffee, the menu is extensive with regular coffee, lattes, matcha, tea, pastries and more. Apart from books and coffee, there is even a small area where you can buy art from local artists, ranging from little canvas paintings to novelty knickknacks.
Pressed hosts many different programs, such as book-signings with local authors, story-times with guest readers, book clubs, book-release parties, live music and so many more events that are open to the public. Needham hopes these events bring the community together, support local artists and create a safe and pleasant environment for Lakeland.
“I love pressed– every time I’ve gone in, the coffee has been great, the atmosphere has been calming, and the staff has been super nice, including the owner,” Noll said.
In regards to expanding Pressed outside of Lakeland due to its success over the past year, Needham is still unsure about that idea.
“I have so many things I still want to accomplish for the business here in Lakeland,” Needham said.