April 18, 2011
We’re a bit obsessed with Paris’ budding coffee scene as of late. At the heart of it all are the Frog Fights, where Paris’ best baristas compete to show off their brewing, frothing and presentation skills. This month the event took place at Coutume Cafe. Our girl about town, Sara Rahman, has the inside scoop. Stay tuned for the location of the next event! -Geneviève
The test – Zoe Kingan
Earlier this month, an eclectic crowd bulged from the seams of Coutume Café, the host of Paris’ 9th monthly Frog Fight barista competition. Cameras clicked, wine glasses clinked, and at the center of the huddle, 25 or so baristas took turns in pairs behind a gleaming espresso machine, shuffling to execute caffeinated masterpieces as quickly and elegantly as possible.
Certainly not the first item on the menu to tempt the flocks of foodie pilgrims seeking sensory nirvana in Paris, coffee is usually an afterthought in traditional French dining. Sort of like the benediction rounding out a Catholic mass: essential, yes; transcendent, only if your priest/server is endowed with certain god-given qualities rarely found in the earthly realm.
Fortunately for Paris and all of us who pray for mercy each time we encounter the flat, soupy stuff that passes for espresso in some of this city’s finest restaurants, something interesting is brewing in our back alleys. In the past couple of years, several hip coffee shops have popped up around town, surprising their easygoing clientele with something other than the atmospheric qualities French cafes always get right: really good coffee. The Frog Fight is part of this trend.