A few weeks ago I was researching the coffee scene in Paris, not realizing that a short time later people sitting in restaurants and bars would be the target of machinegun attacks. On reflection, although the timing could be better, I feel that we have to go on living our lives as normally as possible, hence this post.
Twenty plus years ago, coffee in Paris was usually a quick espresso taken at the bar to avoid the extortionate prices of a table outside. The coffee was strong, but not exactly subtle and the taste was usually uniform. While in the 90s many countries developed a real coffee culture, complete with an interest in the provenance and taste of coffee, France stayed close to its traditions. Then, at the dawn of the new millennium, things started to change, and the first omen of that change was also the first stop on my Parisian coffee trek, La Caféothèque.
Founded in 2001 by a Guatemalan woman, Grace Montenegro, this café aims to showcase the produce of single coffee estates from around the world. Not only can you have your cup of Joe here, but there are also coffee tastings and they offer courses on coffee blends, brewing techniques and even barista training. Located on the quays facing Ile Saint Louis, it is a rambling café with a dedicated area for coffee tasting sessions. Apart from the great coffee, the wooden floors and ceilings create a warm environment. The menu is, needless to say, extensive and I tried a latte. The consistency was creamy and the coffee had a rich flavour (definitely worth the almost six euro price). On the negative side, the central location means that it gets a huge passing trade, so it does have a somewhat touristy feel.
La Caféothèque may have been the forerunner of today’s more sophisticated Parisian coffee culture; however, it has spawned a host of imitators. Goodcoffeeinparis.com recommends at least twenty different places to enjoy your cup of Joe. Given that I was staying in Montmartre, I decided to check one out in the 18th arrondissement, Café Lomi at 3 ter Rue Marcadet.
Café Lomi was created in 2010 with the aim of introducing sophisticated coffees to businesses and to the general public. They visit plantations across the world in order to select the best beans for their coffee. Like La Caféothèque, Café Lomi also has a school that offers a similar range of classes and courses.
It was 6pm on a cool October evening when I visited this café; I needed a strong coffee to warm me up and therefore selected a Costa Rican blend prepared with a slow drip method. The coffee was dark and strong, a perfect pick me up early in the evening. Despite the less than stellar location (I had to walk through some pretty dodgy streets to find it), the style and feel of the café was appealing. It has a big open feel, with its large windows, wooden floors and upholstered leather seats (this is how I imagine the perfect Seattle café). Also, as a coffee lover, I appreciated the information sheet on the provenance and qualities of my Costa Rican coffee. Perhaps due to its less central location, Café Lomi had more of a local/expat trade than La Caféothèque, yet another point in its favour.
Pros: Great coffee, sprawling feel and easy to access
Cons: Busy and touristy
Pros: Fabulous coffee, comfort and information on each cup you drink
Cons: Location, location, location
Address: 52 Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris
Telephone: 33 1 53 01 83 84
Metro: Pont Marie, Hôtel de Ville, Saint-Paul
Address: 3 Ter Rue Marcadet, 75018 Paris
Telephone: 33 9 80 39 56 24
Want to find out more?
This website is a good place to start planning your coffee adventures in Paris.
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