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10 June 2016

Paris: A Speciality Coffee Guide

The last time I was in Paris, back in November 2012, I was surprised to discover, after decades of mediocre coffee (or worse), that it was possible to get good speciality coffee in the city. Unfortunately, a hectic day trip meant I could only go to one coffee shop, La Caféothèque, a sprawling, characterful café in the southern part of the Marais.


I only had 48 hours in Paris last weekend, but as my friends and I spent most of our time wandering around the city, there was plenty of coffee time. Here are the coffee shops I visited, ordered roughly from west to east. I will also update this map after future trips to Paris.



Coutume is a cafe and roastery that is credited with jump-starting Paris's long under-performing speciality coffee scene. It was on my list back in 2012, but its location, deep in the 7th arrondissement, wasn't convenient. Luckily, it was only a ten-minute walk from my friends' apartment so we headed there for brunch on Sunday. We got there early-ish (for brunch) and secured the last table and a line soon formed that snaked out of the door and along rue de Babylone.


The building is light and airy with high ceilings, cool light bulbs and excellent tiling. The coffee bar is at the front and if you can't face the wait for a table, they serve coffee to take away. The coffee menu is extensive — we had hoped to try the Café Coutume, a special coffee designed by one of the baristas that changes each month, but they weren't serving it. Instead, I did my best to confuse our waitress by ordering both a cortado (€2.90) and a hand-brewed filter coffee (€6).



Both coffees were made with coffee from the Mpanga washing station in Burundi, although the filter was brewed with washed beans, while the espresso was natural process. With its rich, fruity, cocoa notes the filter coffee was particularly good — so much so that I bought a bag of freshly roasted beans to take home. I think it was my first experience of Burundi coffee and I was not disappointed.




The brunch dishes were great too. I had pancakes with thyme-infused blueberries (€10) and my friends both had the chicken schnitzel (€17). Oh, yes, and there was the banana bread I had for 'pudding'. Oops! Coutume is a great spot for brunch or a coffee break; it jumped straight to the top of my Paris coffee favourites. 

Coutume is located at 47 rue de Babylone in the 7th arrondissement (Métro: Saint-François-Xavier or Vaneau). Website. Twitter. Instagram.


The small, minimalist Télescope is on a quiet street a few blocks north of the Louvre. The once uninspiring neighbourhood now has a number of interesting cafés, restaurants and shops — it's a particularly good place to come for sushi. Télescope itself is a particularly good place to come for coffee. As well as the usual espresso-based drinks (which I didn't try but which looked great), they serve a couple of single-origin filter coffees. During our visit, a Kenyan and a Colombian variety were on offer, both from Hasbean (€4.50 each). I ordered the former and my friend had the latter so that we could both try both, brewed through the Aeropress. Of the two, the fruity Kenyan was my favourite and I also loved the Instagram-ready ridged serving glasses.



There are only a few small tables at Télescope, as well as a bench outside, but although there was a constant stream of customers on a grey Saturday morning, there were always enough tables. There was a peaceful ambiance, and wooden décor and sky blue accents gave the café a rustic, Scandinavian aesthetic.



Télescope is located at 5 rue Villedo in the 1st arrondissement (Métro: Pyramides). Website. Twitter.


There are several branches of Maison Kitsuné, a hip Franco-Japanese record label and clothing brand, throughout Paris, Tokyo and New York. Some of them have larger cafés but we stumbled into the rue Condorcet location in the 9th arrondissement, which was more of a boutique with an espresso machine. A gorgeous powder-blue La Marzocco, no less. Unfortunately, they weren't serving coffee when we were there, but I'd like to go back.


Café Kitsuné is located at 68 rue Condorcet in the 9th arrondissement (Métro: Pigalle). There are other locations in the 1st and 11th arrondissements. Website. Twitter. Instagram.


With its gorgeous monochrome décor, laptop-friendly co-working areas and great coffee from local roaster Lomi, Craft is an ideal spot for caffeinating, collaborating or just chilling near Canal Saint Martin. We sat outside but there are a few seats at the coffee bar and several tables, including some larger ones in the co-working area. I loved the black-and-white tiles on the floor and the black La Marzocco.



I also loved that there were two single-origin filter coffees on offer (Colombian and Kenyan) and a Brazilian single-origin espresso. We had one of each of the filter coffees (€5), brewed through the V60. Linguists, please note: the French for V60 is vee six-tee not veh-swah-son (filter coffee is café filtre and a macchiato is une noisette). As at Télescope, I preferred the Kenyan variety, which was better suited to the V60 method.



Café Craft is located at 24 rue des Vinaigriers in the 10th arrondissement (Métro: Jacques Bonsergent). WebsiteTwitter. Instagram.


Vibrant, colourful and quirky, Fragments is a good place to recover from the hectic streets of the Marais.


The sexy Mirage coffee machine sits on the long counter while Bruce Lee watches over the proceedings. I had a Tanzanian filter coffee, prepared using an Aeropress (€6), which was very well brewed. I often drink Kenyan and Ethiopian coffees, so it was nice to try beans from a couple of different African countries on this trip. They also serve espresso-based drinks and brunch: in fact, this was the only place I saw avo toast on the menu all weekend. It was too late for brunch and too early for dinner, so I only tried a couple of bites of my friend's, which only left me wishing I had ordered my own. The staff at Fragments are very friendly and there is a fun, casual vibe.



Fragments is located at 76 rue de Tournelles in the 3rd arrondissement (Métro: Chemin Vert). Facebook. TwitterInstagram.


Other options:
La Caféothèque. We walked past but didn't have time to visit; my full review is here. 52 rue de l'Hôtel de Ville in the 4th arrondissement (Métro: Pont Marie). Website. TwitterInstagram.

Holybelly. This small café in the 10th looked lovely but the onset of protestors and police drove us elsewhere. 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix in the 10th arrondissement (Métro: Jacques Bonsergent). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Ten Belles. Again, I wanted to check this place out but the protests prevented us from crossing the Canal Saint Martin. 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles in the 10th arrondissement (Métro: Jacques Bonsergent). Website.TwitterInstagram.

Terres de Café. 4 Rue Rambuteau, in the 3rd arrondissement (Métro: Rambuteau). Website. TwitterInstagram.


2 comments:

  1. Hi Bex,

    Some great choices here, including old favourites (Coutume and Telescope) and a couple I have heard of, but didn't manage to visit on my last trip to Paris (Craft and Fragments). Clearly I need to get myself back to Paris. I can't believe it's been two years since my last visit...

    Thanks,
    Brian.

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    1. Thanks, Brian. It's certainly a change from 10 years ago when I could only find half-way decent noisettes. And yes, I need to go to Paris more often too, especially as the Eurostar terminal is right next to my office. I guess because it's so close and convenient, I end up failing to seize the opportunity. Maybe we should plan a coffee blogger day trip next time there's a Eurostar sale!

      Thanks,
      Bex

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