It is no secret that we at SFP are huge coffee fans, however, it has been quite an experience finding a good cup of coffee in Paris! In a country where coffee drinking is such a part of the culture, this may be hard to believe. My years of frustration with my daily café were frequently met with reactions of shock from visitors and friends abroad:
Are you seriously telling me that there is no good coffee in Paris? Paris!?
Unfortunately, yes. The average coffee in Paris has a wide range of problems from using old, over-roasted beans and cheap machines to grinding beans in large batches instead of fresh with each order and improper training of the baristas. The word “espresso” isn’t even pronounced properly in French!
Coming from New York City, where the coffee culture was booming with expertly trained baristas on every corner, where you could sit on your laptop sipping your fair-trade coffee with soy milk while writing emails, papers or searching the net on their free WiFi, Paris was certainly lacking.
I never went to Starbucks in the US but here, and with a lactose intolerance, Starbucks seemed to be the only coffee spot offering coffee to go and with the option of soy milk. For years I would sink into Starbucks, hiding my face, picking up my coffee as quickly as possible and heading on my way…until recently!
Paris’ first real coffee shop, La Caféothèque, opened in 2005 and since then, the Paris coffee scene has been booming as expertly trained baristas make their way throughout the city opening up some serious coffee hangouts to share their craft. As you can imagine, I have made it my mission to try them all.
Here are four of our current favorites and how they stack up.
47 rue de Babylone, 75007
Concept: Coutume has a great rustic factory feel with plastic curtains and exposed pipes. Beans are roasted on the premises and served according to preference. They have every coffee-making apparatus known to man from the siphon to a 24-hour cold drip coffee. The atmosphere might feel more like a restaurant but these guys are serious about their coffee.
Highlights: Roasts their own single-origin beans, Lots of seating, Great food (good for lunch and weekend brunch), continuous all day service, Open Sunday
Shortcomings: Lined up tables and chairs stuck together in close proximity to accommodate the masses of people popping in for their coffee fix, No reservations so pack in early if you want a seat for Sunday brunch.
5 rue Villedo, 75001
Concept: Telescope feels a lot like a small Greenwich Village coffee shop. It has one small wall of tables that seats about 8 people total. The decor is light and fresh with lots of neutral and wood color-tones. Offer espresso coffee options and filtered coffee with a small selection of sweets and goodies. Expertly made coffee and friendly service.
Highlights: Superior welcoming and accommodating service, calm and peaceful atmosphere, simple but quality choices.
Shortcomings: Less choice in coffee options and food options, Few seating options, no soy milk, Closed Sunday
62 rue des Martyrs, 75009
Concept: This upper 9th hangout is constantly packed with locals working on their laptops or catching up with friends. They have great soups, salads and sandwiches as well as delicious pastries and goodies made in-house. If you are not in the mood for some delicious coffee, they have great fresh-squeezed juices and teas.
Highlights: Fabulous outdoor terrace overlooking a quaint place, great non-coffee options, full range of coffee-brewing options, Open Sunday
Shortcomings: The new labyrinth-style seating situation made to accommodate more people is a little difficult to navigate and less comfortable
13 bis rue Henry Monnier, 75009
Concept: Le Rocketship is like no other coffee shop on this list. Located on a quaint 9eme street between St. Georges and Pigalle metros, the concept is an adorable boutique filled with home décor, stationary, gifts and gadgets all handpicked by the owner to showcase in his shop. There is a small coffee bar where you can sip on superb Chai Lattes or Coutume coffee while you shop and talk about the individual designers with the very friendly owner.
Highlights: Delicious Chai Lattes, Unique shopping experience, very friendly service
Shortcomings: No Soy milk, only three bar stools, Not good for 3-hour coffee and work sessions, closed Sunday and Monday
Le Bal Café
6 Impasse de la Defense, 75018
Concept: This well-hidden British-influenced café behind the busy Place de Clichy has a fresh artsy feel to it with a great art bookstore and small gallery attached to the café. Located on a small cobblestone walkway and overlooking a secluded little park, this café is more of a fully-fledged restaurant that also just happens to have some of Paris’ best coffee and baristas behind the bar.
Highlights: Great meal options, Brunch, Attached bookstore and Art Gallery, Open Sunday
Shortcomings: More of an artsy cafeteria feel on the decor, No reservations so pack in early if you want a seat for Sunday brunch.