“When good Americans die, they go to Paris…. those that don’t mind the coffee that is.”
I’m the kind of guy that needs a morning coffee before I’m safe for society.
My devotion (or dependence, read as you will…) to the drink is quasi religious and my daily intake may be single handedly keeping my neighbourhood barista in business: one cup to wake up, two to function, three to be creative and four more to get me through the day…you get the picture.
However, there’s one city in the world, where I prefer mood swings and the cerebral levels of the undead instead of risking a cup in a café… and that city, believe it or not, is Paris.
Stereotyped as coffee lovers, you would expect the French to be absolutely demanding with their beloved drink as with everything else that falls in the culinary realm…. surprisingly though, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over roasted and of poor quality, typical French coffee is a culture shock in a cup and If you consider yourself a connoisseur, it could be borderline offensive.
So during my latest trip to Paris, I was resigned to drinking the local “jus de chaussette” (literal translation: sock juice) or risk the throes of withdrawal, until a friend suggested I give some of the new coffee shops in town a try.
Apparently a host of young baristas serving great coffee had been popping up all over town and starting a coffee revolution while I was busy hating away, so I approached one of these new wave cafés – Café Craft- with great scepticism.
Three espressos and an article later, I had seen the light, French coffee can be good… damn good actually, you just have to know where to look.
So I’ve created a survivors guide to Paris for all the coffee addicts out there. There’s more than what I’ve included here and I will no doubt be adding to this list for a while to come. So without further ado:
The pioneers that put the first nail in the coffin of bad coffee and they’ve been hammering ever since…with great success. Owner Gloria Montenegro started off approaching pedestrians and asking them to sample some single estate brews in order to open up their palate. Her early endeavors transformed into a coffee shop which stocks more than 20 varieties of coffee from around the world and trains future baristas in this fine art.
After having lived in Melbourne Australia and Vancouver Canada, the owners of Holybelly, Nico Alary and Sarah Mouchot, brought the strong coffee cultures of these cities to Paris’s 10th quarter in a comfortable (when not too crowded) trendy and fun setting. If ever you’re not feeling too hot for coffee you can always beat their pinball machine score for a free beer.
An undeniable proof of Darwinism, is the evolution of the 19th century poet into the 21st century hipster. Even though macbooks have now replaced the quill and paper, this creature’s habitat still lies in the cosy confines of a coffee shop, and the Café Craft, is where the next classic, and mind blowing coffee is being brewed. Freelancers and all forms of creative types can be found crowding the tables of this coffee shop, for the concept is simple, drink coffee and use their wifi and “desks” for as long as you need.
The Broken Arm
Coffee and books complement each other perfectly but it took a visit to the Broken Arm to say the same of fashion and coffee… and guess what? it might even be better. Here you can sip on a steaming cup in a shrine dedicated to fashion and design. The décor is sassy and eclectic, the dishes inspired and zesty and the coffee is just what you would expect from a modern Parisian café… perfect!
Superstar barista Thomas Lehoux is credited for being at the forefront of the French coffee revolution, and judging by the queues at the Ten Belles, he may very well have succeeded. The shop is tiny and always full but bear it and give the coffee here a try because it’s changing French attitude towards coffee with every steaming cup served.
The Belleville Brulerie isn’t so much a café as a shrine dedicated to the art of appreciating coffee. This roaster supplies beans to most specialist cafés in the area and holds sampling sessions on saturday mornings (limited to eight spots only) where you can discuss the finer points of coffee beans and brews.