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, whichpairs 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.
Written by Emily Dilling for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Palmyre Roigt. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.