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9 March 2017

Paris Speciality Coffee Guide — March 2017 Update

After being pleasantly surprised by Paris's booming speciality coffee scene during my weekend trip last June, I had quite the to-do list to work from when I returned last weekend to stay with my friends. As our agenda for the weekend consisted mainly of eat–shop–caffeinate, I squeezed in visits to seven new-to-me cafés. I have added these to my Paris coffee map, which I created as part of my 2016 Paris coffee guide, where you will find more detailed reviews of Coutume, Télescope, Café Craft and Fragments.



Blackburn Coffee
Blackburn Coffee is a cosy coffee shop in an area of Paris variously defined as Saint Martin, and as Château d'Eau. The name refers to Bobby Blackburn, rather than the northern English city, but the café was so busy when we stopped by for Sunday brunch that I didn't get the chance to ask the friendly baristas for more information about its (possibly fictional) namesake.


Blackburn is currently using coffee from Curve, a roaster based in Margate in the UK, and my cortado was very good indeed. Aeropress- and Chemex-brewed filter coffees are also on the menu, although the staff would probably appreciate it if you didn't order them during the brunch rush. Speaking of brunch, the menu changes regularly and offers French twists on brunch classics. I had a divine œuf cocotte, served with bread for dipping and salad. There was also an avocado toast served with cheese and tuna rillettes.



Blackburn Coffee is located at 52 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement (Métro: Strasbourg–Saint Denis or Jacques Bonsergent). Website. Instagram.

The Broken Arm
We tried to go for brunch at The Broken Arm, a Marais-based fashion boutique with an adjoining café, but it was late, rainy and Paris Fashion Week, which meant that tables for three were as rare as a seat in the front row of a catwalk show. Instead, we got a coffee to go and my piccolo, brewed with a Brazilian–Ethiopian Broken Arm blend, was exceptional — the best I've had in Paris and one of the best I've had in the past year.


We returned later on and managed to score a table and, as we had more time, I decided to try the filter coffee. The Ethiopian single-origin, brewed through the Aeropress, was prepared very well too, and paired nicely with a slice of the chocolate, hazelnut and orange cake, which was also delicious. The food menu changes daily and offers interesting small and large dishes. The décor at The Broken Arm is minimalist, with white walls, wooden tables and attractive, if slightly uncomfortable, chunky wooden chairs. The café is also so close to my friends' new apartment that I will definitely be back before long.


The Broken Arm is located at 12 Rue Perrée in the 3rd arrondissement (Métro: Temple). WebsiteInstagram.

Fondation Café
Just around the corner from The Broken Arm is the even-tinier Fondation Café, whose paucity of perching posts inside is supplemented by the tables underneath the awning outside. Luckily, we arrived in between rainstorms and could sit at one of the pavement tables. Cheery green coffee cups add pops of colour to the otherwise understated interiors.


The coffee is from Cuillier, a local roaster whose three coffee shops remain on my to-do list. Our couplet of cortados were made with Blend 21, a blend of coffee from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, which was smooth and chocolatey and worked nicely with a little milk. There weren't any hand-brewed filter coffees on the menu and only limited food options, but the coffee was very good and in the summer, I'm sure those pavement tables become a hot commodity in this vibrant Marais neighbourhood.


Fondation Café is located at 16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars in the 3rd arrondissement (Métro: Temple). Facebook. Instagram.

KB CaféShop
Less than 15 minutes' walk from Gare du Nord (at my pace, anyway), is KB CaféShop, a wonderful coffee shop and roastery that I hadn't heard of before starting to research this trip. KB (formerly Kooka Boora) has been roasting since 2010, however, and during my visit they were selling retail bags of seven different single-origin coffees — two espresso and five filter — and a retail bag of Cascara. I ended up buying some Kenyan Gaturiri AA beans, which I've been enjoying at home this week brewed through my Aeropress — the juicy blueberry notes come through very clearly.


The décor is very Scandinavian-chic — there is a large, communal table; several smaller, more comfortable seats; and, for more clement days, plenty of benches outside. Although the café was busy when I visited at lunchtime on Friday, I was still able to nab a seat in the corner where I waited for the barista to prepare my piccolo. My coffee, made with a chocolatey Brazilian variety, was excellent and beautifully presented. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for a filter coffee, but they were serving five single-origin coffees at the brew bar, with Aeropress, and V60 and Kalita Wave pourover brew methods available. There are also various pastries, sandwiches and salads on offer.


If you are near Gare du Nord or in the area of Paris that is becoming known as SoPi (south Pigalle), I highly recommend that you head to KB CaféShop for great coffee served by friendly, knowledgeable baristas.


KB CaféShop is located at 53 Avenue Trudaine in the 9th arrondissement (Métro: Anvers). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Loustic
Colourful Loustic, located on a quiet Marais side street, is the very definition of a cosy café. With its comfortable bench seating along the wall opposite the coffee bar, hexagon-heavy décor and a big selection of coffee and food magazines, Loustic almost feels as though you are having coffee in a coffee-loving friend's living room. We sat at the front, next to the window, not that the rainy Sunday afternoon provided much in the way of natural light.



Its coffee — roasted by Caffenation, based in Antwerp, Belgium — packs a serious punch too. As well as espresso-based drinks, they also serve V60-, Aeropress- and Chemex-brewed filter coffee. We decided to share a Chemex brew, with a clean and fruity Kenyan Kiriaini AA variety (there were three other single-origins available at the brew bar, all from Burundi, but the barista recommended the Kenyan). There were various sweet and savoury treats on offer too.


Loustic is located at 40 Rue Chapon in the 3rd arrondissement (Métro: Rambuteau or Arts et Métiers). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Radiodays
I know that I overuse the phrase 'petite but perfectly formed' on this blog but it really does apply in the case of Radiodays, a small café a block east of the Canal Saint-Martin. The design is beautiful too and the owner — whom I think was also the lovely, friendly barista with whom I chatted — has clearly put a lot of thought into every detail, from the design (I loved the contrast of the sleek, monochrome Kees van der Westen espresso machine and the colourful tiling) to the food and especially the coffee. The name Radiodays is, of course, a reference to the Woody Allen film of the same name and its eclectic soundtrack.



I had already eaten and didn't sample the delicious-sounding breakfast/brunch menu. Instead, I ordered a cortado, which was very good. Currently, they are using Tim Wendelboe coffee, but they like to mix things up. You can buy retail bags of coffee beans too. Radiodays is a real hidden gem and I was very grateful to baristas at Ten Belles (see below) who told me about it.


Radiodays is located at 15 Rue Alibert in the 10th arrondissement (Métro: Goncourt). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Ten Belles
Last, but certainly not least, on this list is Ten Belles, just around the corner from Radiodays on Rue de la Grange aux Belles. You know you've arrived when you spot the colourful stools and pavement garden outside the storefront. I arrived late on a Friday afternoon and it was fairly quiet, although the tables must fill up very quickly during busy times. As well as the tables opposite the coffee bar, there is a mezzanine level with more seating and, of course, if the weather is nice, you can sit outside and enjoy the Canal Saint-Martin people-watching possibilities.


I got talking to the two lovely baristas — Quentin and Jules — after enquiring whether they served V60- or Aeropress-brewed coffee as well as French press. They didn't and when I explained that French press isn't my favourite brew method because I prefer cleaner tastes, they suggested I try the Yirgacheffe batch brew they had just whipped up. I'm normally something of a batch-brew skeptic, but the guys persuaded me to give it a go, but I also ordered a cortado just in case (at which point Jules asked whether I worked in coffee). The cortado, a single-origin San Jacinto coffee from Guatemala, was very good but — oh ye of little faith — the filter coffee was even better; a clean but flavoursome brew. The coffee is from Belleville, a roastery based just down the road, which is still on my to-do list.


Ten Belles was a lovely place to sit and plan the rest of my afternoon's activities and Quentin and Jules were both incredibly friendly, offering up various other coffee and food recommendations for me. The café is well worth the trip over the canal.

Ten Belles is located at 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles in the 10th arrondissement (Métro: Jacques Bonsergent). Website. TwitterInstagram.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Bex,

    Specialty coffee in Paris is booming, isn't it? Some new places on there (for me) plus some old favourites, of which Loustic is top of the list. Such a great place! Next time you need to start exploring the Left Bank. There's not as much speciality coffee over there, but it can be found if you know where to look :-)

    In closing, I cannot believe that the Parisians would refer to an area of their beautiful city as "SoPi". Surely they wouldn't sell us out like that?

    Thanks,
    Brian.

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    1. Thanks, Brian. I have a soft spot for the Left Bank as I spent so much time there on most of my childhood and university-era visits. These past two trips I've been staying with friends who have been flat-hunting in and then renovating a place in the Marais hence the Right Bank focus. If I get more "free time" next trip, I'll have to check out some more of the Left Bank coffee spots.

      And I know what you mean about neighbourhood abbreviations, although I can't really talk as I spent a few years trying to make WeToCoRo (west of Tottenham Court Road, AKA Fitzrovia) happen. It didn't happen.

      Thanks,
      Bex

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