That’s right, folks: time for me to start brushing up on my weak-kneed French. That there above says “Cool/Stylish Parisian Cafes.”
The Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s annual World of Coffee event will commence one week from today in Nice, France, and me and my elementary-school-level grasp of the French language will be there to see it. I’m unofficially starting une célébration de café en France (that means a celebration of coffee in France. I’m not that bad.) because in my opinion, based on lots of conversations with Frenchies and cafe visits in Paris last fall, things ’bout to blow up in France!
It’s a tricky thing—France has the same problem that Italy does (though Italians and French would vehemently deny that they have anything in common): both countries have long and storied romantic coffee histories—the quick espresso at the stand-up bar in Italy, the sidewalk cafe lounging in France, Paris in particular. There is so much sentiment tied to each country’s cafe culture that it has actually impeded the growth and development of specialty coffee as we know it in the 2000s. Add to that astronomically high rents in city centers, and it’s no wonder why more little guys aren’t chasing the coffee dream of opening their own micro roasteries and third wave cafes.
But I was heartened during the week of Parisian cafe visits I made last October—stuff was happening. American David Flynn (who earned his chops at the now defunct murky coffee in Washington, D.C.) has been a barista in Paris for several years, and one year ago, with French friend Nicolas Clerc, opened Telescope Coffee, a tiny shop near the Louvre where the coffee is spectacular, the owl motif plentiful, and the vibe decidedly French-meets-Scandi. David gave me a list of awesome cafes to visit in Paris, and I spent a week ticking each one off.
For those of you smart (and lucky) enough to tack on a few days in Paris before or after the SCAE show in Nice, here’s a guide to some of the best coffee spots in Paris—places where not only the atmosphere was top notch, but the coffee, as well.
TELESCOPE COFFEE5 rue Villedo 75001
David and Nicolas roast their own coffee and sell it in half-pound bags along with rotating roasters.
49 rue de Babylone
Along with Cafeotheque (see below), Coutume was one of the only third wave shops in Paris for a long time. Owners Antoine (a Frenchman) and Tom (an Australian) have got the recipe right: great food, killer coffee, and expert roasting. I had breakfast with Tom and his wife when I was there, and he’s humbled to have been one of the influences of this new tide of microroasters and cafes.
13 rue Lucien Sampaix 75010
This one only opened two months ago so I didn’t have the chance to visit on my last trip to Paris, but I’ve heard great things. It’s run by three Australian women, and they use coffee from Coutume.
3 rue Marcadet 75018
Lomi was the childhood nickname of the owner. Fairly new roasting and retail space in the far north of the city, but definitely worth a visit
BLACK MARKET COFFEE
27 rue Ramey 75018
Run by local Youssef and Marseillais Baptiste, and using coffee from Coutume. Trained by Antoine of Coutume,
53 ave Trudaine 75009
Using Cafe Lomi beans, these guys do an amazing job with manual brew as well as espresso.
TEN BELLES10 rue de la Grange aux Belles 75010
Opened by Thomas of Frog Fight (Paris’ version of TNTs), and the team from the lauded restaurant, Le Bal Cafe. Serving Telescope.
52 rue de l’hotel de ville 75001
Owner Gloria is a legend in the Parisian coffee world, and when you visit her coffeehouse, you understand why. A maze of rooms with their own personalities, a team of well trained baristas, and an impressive bean bar. A sample roaster spins all day in the front window.
Some legends not to be missed:
CAFE DE LA PAIX
5 place de l’Opéra 75009
Too noisy for some to handle, too famous for others to skip, this is one of Paris’ most famous cafes.
CAFE DE FLORE
26 rue St Benoît 75006 Cafe de Flore has starred in some of your favorite French movies, and when you step inside and order a coffee, you’ll feel like an extra. This is as Parisian as it gets.
Lastly: There’s good restaurant coffee in Paris?