Soups, wraps — and ice cream? Here’s the lowdown on UC Berkeley’s newest cafe.

Students order juice and coffee drinks at the opening of the new Press cafe outside the fourth floor of Moffitt Library on Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jami Smith for the University Library)
Students order juice and coffee drinks at the opening of the new Press cafe outside the fourth floor of Moffitt Library on Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jami Smith for the UC Berkeley Library)

What’s shiny, shaped like a box, and full of holes — and delicious food?

It’s UC Berkeley’s newest cafe.

Opening Oct. 2 outside the fourth floor of Moffitt Library — on a campus brimming with places to get coffee — Press, as it’s called, sets itself apart through its design as much as its fare.

“The cafe architecture is totally unique,” said Sukhjit Johal, who, as part of the Design Office, is in charge of the capital projects at the UC Berkeley Library, including Press. Like the reimagined fourth and fifth floors of Moffitt, the cafe was designed by Gensler, a firm with headquarters in San Francisco.

Perhaps the most stunning part of the design?

Square-shaped perforations, cut using waterjet technology — think of a Super Soaker on steroids — are dispersed throughout the cafe’s exterior metal panels. The cutouts allow light, generated by LEDs, to shine through.

“The full impact of the design (is) best viewed in the evening and at night, when the lights on all sides are turned on so the box glows like a jewel box,” Johal said. “When closed and lit, it takes on a bit of a mystery.”

Press will include lighting to increase visibility at night. (Photo courtesy of Charles Payne/Gensler)
Press will include lighting to increase visibility at night. (Photo courtesy of Charles Payne/Gensler)
The square-shaped cutouts were created using waterjet technology. (Photo courtesy of Charles Payne/Gensler)
The square-shaped cutouts were created using waterjet technology. (Photo courtesy of Charles Payne/Gensler)

Other interesting features?

The cafe uses an aircraft hangar door — adding a sense of drama and also serving a practical purpose: When open, the door acts as a shade. When is the last time you saw something that cool at Starbucks?

“Because of the size and location as well as the beautiful aesthetics, I think this place is more of a fun ‘snack shack,’” said Daryl Ross, a UC Berkeley alum who operates Press, as well as the Free Speech Movement Café, also at Moffitt, as well as cafes at the law and business schools, and owns Caffe Strada, on College Avenue; and Free House restaurant, on Bancroft Way. “(Press is) a place to get fun, healthy food that students can bring into the library and enjoy while they study.”

As with the architecture, the fare at Press goes beyond what you might expect from a traditional quick-stop cafe.

Besides serving up the requisite coffees and teas, Press offers soft-serve ice cream; smoothies such as the Green Machine, with kale, pineapple and ginger; hearty soups, such as Red Lentil Dal and Spinach; paleo muffins; and hot wraps, from roasted turkey with honey garlic aioli to peanut butter and banana with honey, according to Ross, who notes that more offerings are coming in the future.

As for the name?

Press (there’s no “The,” by the way) was favored because of its associations with libraries (think printing press), food (panini and coffee presses), current events (the press), and people (a press, or crowd, of people) — and it fit the cafe’s aesthetic, according to Elizabeth Dupuis, associate university librarian for educational initiatives and user services and director of the Doe, Moffitt, and subject specialty libraries.

Press will be open 7:30-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday but will open a little later on the first couple of days — around 10 a.m., according to Ross.

Students visit Press on its opening day. (Photo by Jami Smith for the University Library)
Students visit Press on its opening day. (Photo by Jami Smith for the UC Berkeley Library)
Tea, muffins and fruit are among the items for sale at Press. (Photo by Jami Smith for the University Library)
Tea, muffins and fruit are among the items for sale at Press. (Photo by Jami Smith for the UC Berkeley Library)