Customers entering the new French Press Bakery and Cafe might think they’ve just stepped into a bit of Paris, or Brooklyn. The sophisticated space, done up in elegant neutrals, would not look out of place in any urban enclave (and does look a bit out of place, in the best possible way, in sleepy Needham Center).
Owner Jay Spencer, who is also proprietor of the Petit Robert Bistro across the street, is the kind of coffee enthusiast who can describe the shop’s French roast as “very smooth, with a long finish, like a Bordeaux.” Coffee offerings, from New York
microroaster Arista, also include a house blend and a Brooklyn blend; tea comes from French master blender Mariage Freres. A team of bakers overseen by Alyssa Stepinski, formerly of the Boston Harbor Hotel, turns out madeleines, brioches, croissants, macarons (naturellement), and more, all in small batches that are generally sold out by day’s end.
Spencer, a mechanical engineer by training who studied culinary entrepreneurship at New York’s French Culinary Institute, is focused on quality, and he’s confident that the cafe is filling a niche here. “In our first week, everyone was saying, ‘A good scratch bakery with outstanding coffee — this is exactly what this town needs,’ ” he says. And he’s right.
French Press Bakery and Cafe, 74 Chapel St., Needham Center, 781-400-2660