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Coffee in Paris? Finally, Coffee You CAN Drink in the City of Lights!

Erica Berman is a serious coffee drinker. No joke. Long frustrated by Paris’ less-than-stellar coffee scene, she is overjoyed to see that some serious brewsters are finally taking hold of Paris. Be sure to check in next week for our review of Frog Fight, the buzz-worthy (and caffeinated!) competition where Paris’ best baristas battle it out. – Geneviève

Cappuccino from Coutume Cafe – Erica Berman

I don’t drink coffee in Paris. Why should I? It’s expensive and mostly bad and the waiters are often surly and unfriendly. No self-respecting coffee drinker should have to subject themselves to overpriced Parisian sludge served with a sneer.

I long ago gave up on the idea of great coffee in a sunny café by the Seine, and content myself to home brewed beans, leaving cappuccinos and friendly cafes for Italy.

Le Bal Café – Erica Berman

Happily, changes are taking place in Paris. Just as the artisanal baguette was reborn after a long

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period of low quality bread on the Parisian bakery scene and interesting types of non Lipton tea are popping up in shops and cafes around the city, all of a sudden good, even great, coffee has arrived and a pro-artisanal coffee movement is on the rise, albeit only in a select few Parisian spots.

A young breed of — often foreign and mainly male — baristas who believe in their product and technique, and are eager to share their passion, are helping to open up the Parisian coffee scene to amateurs and seasoned coffee pros alike. Their excitement is catchy and the new Frog Fight barista competition is quite the hit.

The café gourmand at Caféothèque – Kattebelletje

I am certainly no coffee expert and do not claim to know or understand all of the innovative new techniques that are currently on the market (from fancy espresso machines to the cold-drip and the elusive coffee siphon pot), but I do know what I like, and that is quality coffee and thickly foamed cappuccinos made with fresh milk.

After some very pleasant sampling, I am happy to present my 5 top Parisian coffee spots. All use fresh milk and either torrefy sur place or buy their beans freshly and locally roasted.

Barista at Coutume Café – Cara Tobe

1. Kooka Boora – One can not be in a hurry or on a budget in this uber trendy 6 month old café in the 9th SOPI area behind Pigalle. Regulars line up for the 10 am weekend/ 8:30 am week day opening and patiently wait while the barista crafts a perfect brew. The thick foam on my wonderful cappuccino was definitely worth the wait! Don’t miss the terrace for sunny days to come. Rose Bakery is just down the street, a perfect combination.

Kooka Boora – Erica Berman

2. Coutume Café – The new baby on the Paris coffee scene and host of last week’s Frog Fight this 5 week old café is located behind the Bon Marché in the chic 7th. Run by partners Tom Clark and Antoine Netien it is a hip and happening spot to have a morning brew, tasty lunch or a weekend brunch. Many exciting things are on the way at Coutume Café — from new machines, larger in-house torrefaction for roasting up to 12 kilos at once, barista and roasting courses, coffee cupping (tasting, pairing, inhaling), art exhibitions to homemade baked goods and hopefully more Frog Fight competitions. This innovative café uses not only a high quality espresso machine, but also the syphon Hario, conical drip, and cold-extraction techniques to make the perfect cup of coffee.

I stopped by for a cappuccino and a chat with Tom the other day. His positive energy and excitement was catchy and his cappuccino delicate and delicious.

Coutume Café – Erica Berman

Despite some friendly rivalry in the Frog Fights, Tom feels the new breed of coffee shops have mainly banded together to help push forward the coffee culture they love and want to share. A goal? Create a movement to unite against the big monopolies and push specialty coffee into the city of light.

The challenge is that, when it comes to coffee culture, the French seem to favor functionality over actual enjoyment of coffee. His hope for the Parisian coffee scene is to integrate an amazing product into the culture and to never sell out.

3. Espresso and Ristretto – I stumbled upon this hidden gem of a café on one of my infrequent forays into the 11th . A tiny spot on the rue de Charenton behind the Place de la Bastille, this unassuming cafe caught my eye and pulled me in. Owned by the friendly barista Arnaud Laroche and assisted by Leigh, an America barista from Seattle, this petit café that has been around for over a year and a half and my latte macchiato was one of my best Parisian coffee experiences yet. All of Arnaud’s beans are picked up at le Havre, torrefied in house and for sale sur place. For Arnaud, the challenge is to get the French to change their habits and understand real coffee at the right temperature. He dreams of a larger café with outdoor tables…. A suivre!

4. Caféothèque – With their opening in 2007, Caféothèque is the oldest on the new Paris coffee scene. This tiny, well respected, spot on the quai by the Hotel de Ville was the first to start this serious coffee movement by truly embracing artisanal coffee for Parisians. They brew, torrefy and sell beans in this cute comfy and unassuming space.

Caféothèque – Kattebelletje

5. Le Bal Café – This cool, trendy, and well hidden café is an arty foodie haven tucked down a mellow dead-end street behind the busy Place de Clichy. In business since Sept 2010, they have combined great coffee, fresh lovely food, carefully selected wine (with former Rose Bakery and St John’s Bread and Wine chefs in the kitchen and two former Willi’s Wine Bar staffers out front), with modern art (art bookstore and gallery attached) to create an ultra original and super comfy space. I can’t wait to come back and try the incredibly yummy looking brunch and hang on the sunny terrace.

Le Bal Café

Let us know your favorite Parisian coffee spots. Where have you had a great cappuccino or espresso in the city of light? What have I missed?

1. Kooka Boora – 62, rue des Martyrs 75009 Telephone : 01 56 92 12 41, Metro : Pigalle, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette or Anvers

2. Coutume Café - 47, Rue de Babylone 75007 Telephone: 01 45 51 50 47, Metro: Sevres Bablyone

3. Espresso and Ristretto – 67, rue de Charenton 75012 Telephone: 09 52 72 20 77, Metro: Bastille

(Note: News has it that this cafe has since closed sadly.)

4. La Caféothèque – 52, rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004 Telephone: 01 53 01 83 84, Metro: Pont Marie or Hotel de Ville

5. Le Bal Café – 6, Impasse de la Défense, 75018 Telephone: 01 44 70 75 51, Metro: Place de Clichy or La Fourche

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Written by Erica Berman for the Hip Paris Blog. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.


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Written by Erica Berman

Erica BermanErica Berman grew up in Lexington,Mass. After graduating from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Journalism and an intensive summer at Middlebury College (Vermont), Erica came to Paris with hopes of submerging herself in French culture and perfecting her French -- and she never left. Erica is the founder and owner of Haven in Paris and the blog HiP Paris. She now splits her time between Paris (Montmartre), Maine (Damariscotta), Massachusetts (Lexington) and Italy (Genova). In her all-too-rare free time, Erica likes to travel off the beaten track, explore Paris, read, take photos, cook, ski, hike and enjoy long Sunday brunches with her friends.

Website: Erica Berman

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Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 62 Comments »

62 Responses to “Coffee in Paris? Finally, Coffee You CAN Drink in the City of Lights!”

  • Gourmet coffee is expensive; it’s not always easy to find quality coffee at affordable prices

  • Thanks for the tips! It’s clear that Paris will never have the same spirit as Italy for Coffee drinkers but they’re starting to get one part of the equation…

  • Thank you for all the comments. I have learned that expresso and ristretto has since closed. Also, new and delicious on the block is Telescope cafe. A suivre. Greg, thank you for your comments. As to Kooka Boora, it is for those with patience as the wait is long …. this is a serious affair. It is funny going there after spending 6 weeks in Italy where a cappuccino takes 1 minute to make, 1 minute to drink and costs 1€20-1€50 sitting or standing.

  • I have worked with & or visited these cafes and I would say your list is bang on!!

    How ever I would also drop one or two off this list and just visit Kooka Boora twice as what they are doing is so commercially unviable and so beautiful. Love the bustle of domestic oven baking going on in the background and th evasion of the staff AND in this case the owner.

    Watch the top two for real day to day quality beyond meaningless trophies, they will go far.

    Greg

  • Ralph says:

    Haha how can you write this title when it’s impossible to find good coffee in the US…..

  • Edward Stern says:

    I did not see my favorite cafe listed merce and the muse Located at 1 bis rue Dupuis 75003 Paris. very good cafe and pastries.

  • Cowgirl Chef says:

    A woman after my own caffeinated heart! Why do the Parisians get coffee so wrong when Italy is just RIGHT THERE? But you’re right…there are a few great places now — you listed all of my favorites — I’d also add Merce and the Muse to the list. Let’s go for a coffee together when I’m back from Texas!

  • Tim says:

    Coutume must reserve their barista talents for regulars, because the coffee was unremarkable and in fact bad. Ordered an espresso and cap: the espresso was overdrawn, bitter, with weak crema. The froth was thin with large bubbles (really, large bubbles?). Pretty bad technique, not what I was expecting from the reviews. It seems function over enjoyment has edged its way in…will have to move on to the other coffee houses :o(

  • Paris Bobo says:

    Correction to my last post… it appears I have found it… Coutume Café, possibly the best coffee in Paris!

  • Paris Bobo says:

    Great post – I’m still on the look out for the perfect frothy latte in Paris…

  • Shira says:

    Fabulous post and list of places! We are visiting this summer and beyond thrilled to see there ARE artisan coffee places in Paris beyond what we *enjoyed* on our last trip! Thrilled!

  • Emily says:

    Great list!
    Does anyone have any recommendations for coffee in Geneva?

  • Alex O. says:

    Great post! I’ve been to Kooka Boora- great but a little too crowded for a chill afternoon cafe date with a friend when I went. But I’ll be back! And I’ll check out the others on your list! Had to leave a comment because I’m from Lexington, MA too :)

  • karen says:

    What is the key to getting half & Half or cream with your coffee in Paris, instead of milk?

  • Udon says:

    I made a google map of the good places to drink espresso in Paris, here.

    Espresso e Ristretto is closing down–the one in rue de Charenton–so it is not included. But there is a new place opening up, which I have put down, because even though I haven’t tried it, I know the guy, Nicolas LeClerc who is opening it, and I have a feeling that it will be good. We’ll see…

  • I would try calling them to ask as things change quickly. I have not seen rice or almond milk on the Paris scene yet . . .

  • Luise says:

    great Post, thanks a lot!
    do you know in which of those cafes they offer laktosefree milk? (no soja-milk – i hate it!!)
    thanks a lot for an answer!!!

  • Great post, good job.

  • CrazyWaiter says:

    Besides Pozetto, I had a perfect Illy at Emporio Armani Caffè 149, bd Saint Germain in the 6th arr. 2 euros al banco!

  • CrazyWaiter says:

    Besides Pozetto, I had a perfect Illy at Emporium Caffè 149, bd Saint Germain in the 6th arr. 2 euros al banco!

  • Greta says:

    As an Italian I agree with crazywaiter and Erica: Best coffee in town by far is Pozzetto in the Marais (www.pozzetto.biz).

    I do not find it expensive though, as a proper Italian espresso, in hot ceramic cup filled halfway, often accompanied with some treats as mini-gianduiotti or amaretti there is 1.50 vs. this world’s Starcoffees’ soupydishwashery liquids @ 1.90.

  • Ana says:

    I have to say..cafe gourmandt..I fell in love with it the first time I tasted one!!!And now of course here’s a picture of one..I started laughing with pure joy when I saw the picture-it bring’s out memories!!!
    As You, I to am in love with Paris, and reading “Sweet life” takes me back, and I feel like I’m walking through Latin Quarter again..thank You for that!!!Whith my two boys nad work-I really need some dreaming…

  • Hi Matthew. Thanks for letting us all know about Eggs and Co. I have been there and you are correct, he makes great expresso. I went after I wrote the article and also, have not yet tried his cappuccino. Next time!

  • Matthew says:

    This guy makes a really nice shot of espresso: http://www.eggsandco.fr/ We found it today while wandering around. No frills and very good.

  • [...] and for great coffee around the corner from Pérelle, Kooka Boora [...]

  • [...] HiP Paris friend Kim Laidlaw Adrey writes about new SOPI coffee shop, Kooka Boora (which HiP Paris Blog’s Erica Berman included in our roundup here) [...]

  • Hi there. Please let us know which one you make it to and what you think!! Enjoy . . . – Erica

  • i’m here on vacation from san francisco. as you know, we have gourmet coffee shops everywhere and we are very picky about our coffee’s. when i came to paris i was a bit culture shocked and deprived that there wasn’t a coffee house that i could easily find for a cappucino. glad to see it picking up and i will make it to one or all of these while i’m here. thank you!

  • Erica says:

    We love Pozzetto as well. In fact, I wrote it up a while back: http://hipparis.com/2009/05/02/pozzetto-finally-fabulous-coffee-in-paris/

    It is wonderful but cher!

  • CrazyWaiter says:

    You won’t have better coffee (espresso) in Paris than at Pozzetto 39, rue du Roi de Sicile !!!

  • Had I known about these places when I was in Paris late last year I would have tried every one of them. At least now I know for next time!

    I did, however, find the coffee at the Alto Coffee carts superb. Real coffee made my someone that knows how to use an espresso machine. There are two carts just outside Galeries Lafayette, near Opera.

  • The photo of the coffee cup and design in the foam reminds me of Vivace Coffee in Seattle, WA. Great coffee and you can order online, too. The place you feature seems like a wonderful place to have coffee. Love your blog. xoxo Kim

  • Tony O says:

    I LOVE Cafe Verlet on Rue ST Honore there must be almost 100 varieties to choose from and the upstairs is v cool:) http://bit.ly/kE3T3W

  • So good to know! There is no way I can survive without at least one strong espresso a day!

  • Sciencepotiste says:

    AT LAST Coutume is open! I used to walk past the place every day on the way to uni during the construction and remember the temporary hole-in-the-wall espresso tastings. Can’t wait to go back to Paris and see the place open. Let it and la Cafeotheque open Parisians’ eyes to good coffee! Merce and the Muse – super funky but needs a passion injection into its coffee making. You can’t make a good coffee if you aren’t totally mad about it!

  • [...] Coffee in Paris? Finally, Coffee You CAN Drink in the City of Lights! [...]

  • Rachel says:

    What a great discovery to read this post! I have been suffering in Paris from the TERRIBLE coffee- it’s been over a year since I’ve drunk a real latte so am definitely checking this place out. Thank you!

  • That’s funny, I never drank coffee until I started going to Paris. The Cafe au Lait at Laduree was perfect…I’m forever trying to emulate it. Can’t wait to check out all of the new places.

  • Susan says:

    I think I am just so numb to the quality of coffee when I am there…I just float around in a blissful state. However, I have heard the same complaint from others, and next time I will try one these shops!

  • Love the images of the coffee bar’s!
    Very alive and real – just simply good.
    Great post!
    Greetings from the Périgord – Dordogne

    Found your blog via ALOUD and will certainly follow. k

  • Lindsey says:

    Great post! Clearly there’s a lot I still have to try!

  • I’m not even a coffee drinker and I want to go to these places. They just look so cozy and awesome. Thanks for sharing your finds!

  • Fran says:

    Great post! I would definitely try some of them when I visit in Spring!

  • Kasia Dietz says:

    Having just returned from Italy, this is EXACTLY the post I needed, thank you! Can’t wait to try these coffee spots and compare them with the ‘real thing’ (aka an Italian cappuccino). I have only been to Caféothèque thus far, and loved it!

  • Stephanie says:

    Can it be true?! This is a dream! This is pure heaven!

    I cannot wait to check all of these places out! Paris and Coffee! Finally. Together.

  • Hazel says:

    I’m not interested in coffee but I might change my mind just to look at that splendid profile in picture #2.

  • Hi Terry, which one are you? And thanks for the tip on the hours at Kooka Boora.
    And Sam I do really love Merce and the Muse as well. Their food and desserts are wonderful and the space amazing. I will check out le Dauphin. Thanks for the tips! Erica

  • Terry Craven says:

    Kooka Boora now opens at 8h30 in the week.

    ps, I don’t know how, but I ended up in one of the pics.

  • sam says:

    definitely agree with coutume — they make amazing coffees

    merce and the muse should be on this list, and le dauphin — although not a coffee shop — also makes really good espressos. if youre there at night, have one before leaving.

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