While anyone who’s been to a New York, Copenhagen, or Sydney coffee shop is likely to have heard the virtues of Chemex extolled, many French people are just discovering that there’s a whole world beyond Italian roast, and that it’s now accessible in major French cities. Cuillier, which just opened its third location in Paris, has made it its mission to get people here as excited and concerned about coffee as everything else they eat and drink.
“French people enjoy the good things in life,” says Edoardo Manitto, co-founder of Cuillier. “Wine, cheese… the same will happen with coffee if they come to the right place, where it’s appreciated as a product of terroir and the seasons.” Cuillier’s first outpost opened in 2014 in Lafayette Gourmet, the haute-food level of Galeries Lafayette. Fitting for a company named after the oldest French importer of coffee and chocolate. Located on Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the late 19th century, Cuillier was also a roaster with a reputation for high-quality products.
Today, Cuillier works with Belleville Brûlerie to source handpicked beans that are then roasted specially for the café. Like any fruit, coffee beans are a seasonal product, so their original Blend 21 — a mix of Alta Vista Natural, Chelchele, and Finca San Juan — changes slightly throughout the year to reflect the best of the seasons and maintain a consistent flavor profile. Four whole-bean house roasts are available for purchase, along with the equipment needed to recreate the Cuillier cup at home.
The two other Cuillier cafés are located in high traffic areas: Abbesses opened in August 2015 in the heart of Montmartre, and the two-month-old Grenelle location faces the Musée Maillot, set to reopen this year after extensive renovations. But neither are victim to tourist overload. In fact, the clientele includes a healthy share of regulars. Popping by for a cortado and a homemade tartine or a pistachio cake (supplied by Broken Biscuits) really does feel like a neighborhood treat.
In the midst of a coffee shop growth spurt with heavy Anglo influences, Cuillier has tried to maintain a French touch. “We had to give the coffee shop a French twist,” says Edoardo. “We didn’t want to just copy an American, English, or Australian coffee shop.” Architect Valérie Mazerat designed the two newest locations, using a combination of wood, tile, and steel to create a pair of clean, cozy cafés that bridge past and present: the old world of French coffee and its modern reincarnation. Wool and linen cushions soften up the benches, which are made of recycled teak or oak, like the floors and other furniture. Both locations share a cool palette of black, white and grey, but each has been given its own personality. For example, copper lampshades at the Abbesses location cast a warm light in a nod to the zinc countertops of yore, while black tile walls and mid-century-modern wood chairs echo the sophistication of Grenelle’s Left Bank location.
And Cuillier’s attention to detail doesn’t stop at color-coordinated cushions. Award-winning baristas operate some of the city’s toniest equipment, including a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine and a reverse osmosis filtration system. The international staff has a combination of coffee and hospitality experience, and getting service right has been as important as getting each grind right, says Edoardo. To that end, Cuillier recently hired Thomas Lauriou, who spent six years as a barista and quality control expert at London’s Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. “In order to keep quality stable as we grow, we have to be organized,” he says. And grow it will. You can expect to see more Cuillier coffee shops as Paris continues to embrace speciality coffee and everything that goes along with it.
Café Cuillier Opéra—Lafayette Gourmet- 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009; Métro: Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette
Café Cuillier Abbesses – 19 Rue Yvonne le Tac, 75018; Métro: Abbesses
Café Cuilier Grenelle – 68 Rue de Grenelle, 75007; Métro: Rue du Bac
Written by Kate Robinson for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Jean-Marie Heidinger. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.