Photograph: Alain Ollier
Considering how much coffee Parisians drink, it’s high time they started drinking it right. And now they can, thanks to La Caféothèque, a cozy coffee sanctuary located in the 4th arrondissement. Owned by Gloria Montenegro Chirouze, the former Guatemalan ambassador to France, La Caféothèque combines a mellow atmosphere with a sophisticated and principled approach to importing, roasting, and consuming coffee.
When I last visited, the crowd at La Caféothèque was an eclectic mix of individuals who had one thing in common: a penchant for real coffee. A few writers occupied quiet corners of the café, a group of workmen lingered over espressos at the bar, and a handful of coffee-craving tourists lounged in leather chairs. Mme. Chirouze worked the room, her ambassadorial experience clearly translating well to her current venture. She floated easily between Spanish, French and English as she chatted with customers, served coffee, and provided information about her products and her café’s mission. Also on hand was Emilio Rodriguez, a visiting barista from Brazil who is moonlighting at La Caféothèque this April.
According to the company charter, La Caféothèque imports only “zero-defect” specialty coffees, many of which come from “Plantations of Honour” throughout the world. The staff classify coffees according to “terroirs,” and they keep samples from 68 different countries in stock at the café. A different coffee is featured each day, and the staff employs a traditional roasting method, which fills the space with the unmistakable aroma of coffee done right.
Purists might maintain that if you want to get a real cup of coffee in Paris, you have to head to Italy. But as I indulged in a perfectly prepared cappuccino—made with that day’s featured coffee—it became clear that La Caféothèque is an oasis in the “coffee desert” that many once considered Paris to be. Whether you’re a coffee aficianado or a passing tourist, once inside this international gathering space, you will quickly understand why La Caféothèque is more than a café. It’s a coffee experience.
La Caféothèque, 52 rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004 Paris,
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-7:30pm, Sunday-Monday 12:30pm-7:30pm