Climb the ascending rue de Belleville in the 20th arrondissement of Paris and you’ll find CREAM, the city’s newest address for craft roasted coffee.
On a chilly winter afternoon, the foggy windows of the shopfront hide a warm, hole-in-the-wall haven. CREAM’s simple interior- white walls, natural wood surfaces, scattered green plants – make for an uncluttered yet welcoming space.
Aside from a few tables, seating is mostly limited to high countertops and stools, an arrangement ideal for tucking in for a solo work or reading session. One of the few cafés open on a Monday in Paris, a diverse group of self-employed and scholarly Parisians flock to start their work week here, typing and editing various oeuvres.
On my recent visit, I observed both the coming and going of locals as well as a more sedentary clientele, with a corner counter space having been turned into a recording studio, where a woman wearing headphones composed music on a portable keyboard. At CREAM you can easily plug in headphones and make yourself at home, or you can listen to an entire album played on the shop’s record player, a vintage touch in this modern space.
The coffee served at CREAM comes from Belleville Brûlerie, which pairs nicely with house-made pastries (cookies, muffins, and cakes range from 1-4 euro). For lunch, more substantial piadines, or wraps, are seasonally inspired, with a winter menu including a ham and cheese combo with mustard and fresh rocket or a vegetarian option composed of winter squash, goat cheese, hazelnuts, and greens.
As references to Brooklyn-style establishments are beginning to elicit eye rolls in the Paris food and beverage world, CREAM unabashedly brings together American-style baked goods and Italian-inspired sandwiches in a Scandinavian space without feeling derivative or déjà vu. The French staff and an unpretentious location as well as the constant crowds make this café feel like it has found a home in its neighborhood. Far from being a spin-off of an American or Australian coffee movement, CREAM is rather a product of its environment and an embodiment of Paris’ own sense of place and security in its local coffee scene.
CREAM – 50 rue de Belleville, 75020. Tel: +33 (0)9 83 66 58 43
- Feel like exploring the neighborhood? Here’s a great guide to Belleville and Menilmontant neighborhoods from a 20ème local.
- Read about the coffee revolution in Paris and discover the best coffee bars in the city.
- Co-owner of Belleville Brûlerie Thomas Le Houx gives us the scoop on Paris’ coffee revolution in this video. More clips and interviews from the Paris Coffee Project here.