Since Paris began to transform itself from a coffee dead zone into a caffeine hotspot, I have been on the hunt for that elusive café, preferably in my neighborhood, that could combine a proper espresso with a warm atmosphere, where I could feel comfortable dropping by for my caffeine fix even on bad hair days. Many too-trendy-for-their-customers hipster cafes and holier-than-thou baristas later, I have managed to find the one.
Cassiopée is an art gallery crossed with a coffee roaster-cum-café and furnished like a cozy Parisian living room. It’s the brainchild of half-French, half-Cameroonian Kisito Belibi, whose penchant for coffee history and mythology gave birth to this quirky place at the bottom of the Butte Montmartre just under a year ago.
In addition to the in-house roasted coffee and delectable gluten-free cakes, there are regular exhibitions of up-and-coming international artists like American illustrator Matthew Miller, aka Sunflowerman, and France’s Emilie Bitauld, known for her dreamy, swirly watercolors. For those who prefer hands-on activities, Cassiopée features regular coffee tasting events as well as reflexology treatmentson weekends to help soothe away the stresses of Parisian life.
Belibipreviously worked in cafés in Paris as the capital’s coffee scene began to thrive, but during his barista stinthe noticed that style often took over substance and coffee was sometimes brewed without proper care. His dream was to own a place that specialized in sourcing and correctly roasting quality organic beans,where coffee was prepared with care and attention.
“Coffee has helped emancipate all the civilizations that welcomed it, like Ethiopia, Egypt, Yemen, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Americas,” says Belibi.
“I wanted to open a place where creative, artistic types as well as visitors could come and chat, exchange ideas and meet other people over a cup of coffee.”
Cassiopée – named after the mythical queen of Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee – attracts a mix of creative locals, international expats and visitors, who are treated to a chic, serene décor of hessian bags and plump cushions, stacks of magazines, tarot cards and a well-stocked bookcase with novels and art books.
The lunch and brunch menus are vegetarian friendly and mostly gluten free, as are the scrumptious cakes and brownies supplied by L’Atelier des Lilas, a specialist of artisanal, gluten-free baked goods.
Cassiopée’s freshly roasted organic beans are also available to take home in prepackaged bags.
Cassiopée – 21 rue Custine, 75018 Paris. Open Monday-Friday 8:00-18:00;Saturday & Sunday 9:00-18:00. 06 16 39 89 43. Metro: Chateau Rouge, Marcadet Poissonniers (both ligne 4).
Are you a tea lover? While you’re in the neighborhood check out Neo. T.