French Coffee Cozy Five: Best Coffee Houses in Gay “Par-ee”
By Colleen Luckett
This is the third blog in a series of three about the French Coffee scene.
As mentioned in our second blog in this series, modern French coffee culture took some time to catch up, but now France is firmly on the specialty coffee map. Meander with us onto the streets of Paris to sample five of the best coffee houses the city of romance has to offer.
Ten Belles: A cozy favorite
This little shop, which just celebrated six years of being in business, is a staple of the French hipster coffee scene and boasts serving fresh coffee born of the beans from the now-famous Belleville Brûlerie, a roaster located not far from the shop. One of the city's original specialty coffee shops, this place has remained popular due to their great coffee, simple lunch, homemade cakes, scones and jam, and thick hot chocolate. Once inside, order a typical French café allongé (espresso diluted with hot water) and press upstairs to the cozy mezzanine overlooking the coffee bar. Or, better yet, on a sunny day, sip your coffee by the Canal Saint-Martin, which is only a stone’s throw away.
Café Oberkampf: Flat whites and poached eggs
Located in the 11th Arrondissement is the intrinsically cool Café Oberkampf. Here, coffee connoisseurs share scant space with students, travelers, and the work-from-anywhere crowd. You can enjoy various drinks including elegant iced lattes in shorts, clear glasses, and their signature flat whites (microfoamed milk in strong espresso), plus a smorgasbord of delicious brunch options. The brunch includes grilled cheese with chili jam, granola with fresh fruit, and shakshuka (poached eggs with a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions), which is so much in demand it often sells out. As an added bonus, check out their Instagram page for some scrumptious eye candy.
Café Lomi: Coffee and blue cheese?
Lomi, one of the city's premier coffee roasters, occupies the ground floor of a modern building designed for social housing in a developing section of the eighteenth arrondissement. Inside, it's all modern design with exposed stone walls, reclaimed wood tables, and vintage chairs. The relaxing environment attracts young professionals and students. But because the roasting facility—as well as the training and tasting room—are on-site, you're also likely to cross paths with coffee distributors and industry folk. Expect all the everyday staples, from lattes to skillfully pulled espresso, plus some surprises like café fromage—double espresso served with blue cheese (nibble on the small piece, sip the espresso, and let it melt the cheese in your mouth; you'll be surprised how well they pair!).
KB Café Shop: Scintillating Scones and Single-origin coffee
At one year older than Ten Belles, KB Café is one of the most senior coffee shops in Paris and still serves up the best coffee on bustling Rue des Martyrs. The street is full of some of the city’s most delicious pastries, but KB stands out with its homemade cakes and scones, as well as lunch and brunch offerings.
In 2013, a Serious Eats review pointed out that Café KB uses “beans from Parisian roaster Café Lomi [and has] more of a library-carrel setup than a typical Parisian sit-and-people-watch spot (most people are on laptops). Espresso drinks are sturdy, or try one of their single-origin coffees on Aeropress, prepared skillfully (if slowly) on the dedicated brew bar.” All still true.
KB Café has plenty of terrace seating, which means sun and views of the Sacré-Cœur basilica, but the inside is seemingly reserved for all those first-time novel writers on their Macs. Don’t count on a comfy rendezvous indoors!
Télescope: Would you believe no computers?
Telescope’s Founder Nicolas Clerc formerly worked as a photographer for brands like Chanel and Hermès before falling in love with the art of coffee. He works mainly with Scandinavian coffee roasters, offering excellent filtered coffee, milk-based drinks, and lovely teas for those averse to the bean. The place is small and inside decor is spare. But its simple latte art and avocado toast served on quirky mismatched plates have a homey vibe that can be hard to find in a big city. One food item of note is the chocolate brownie served with sour cream.
Computers are forbidden, so the emphasis is on conversation—but not so deafening that you can't read, write, or sit and people-watch. In fact, if customers get too loud, the owner may just stop by to chastise them for interfering with your enjoyment. This “Paris hauteur” may arise from Telescope’s location near the Louvre and the regal Palais-Royal, within a neighborhood that oozes luxury. Still, for the somewhat elevated price of a small flat white, you can pretend for a time to be a “grand citoyen” of Paris.
Have you visited these or any other coffee shops in Paris? Please let us know about it, and drop the info in the comments!