01 of 06
Brewing Something New, and Shaking Up Traditions
When in town, it's almost obligatory to partake in “Paris café culture”. What could be more Parisian, after all, than to prendre un café en terrasse? However, this cultural institution has less to do with the actual coffee itself, and more to do with the act of loafing around at a café and enjoying the ambiance. Parisians cherish the opportunity to simply sit around for hours, chatting, reading and people-watching. Drinking coffee seems to just be an excuse to, well, loiter. This makes sense when confronted with the sometimes less-than-palatable coffee served up in certain places.
Coffee snobs, your hour has come...
Decades after its Anglophone counterparts started brewing top-quality beans and training skilled baristas, it seems that Paris has finally woken up. Long gone are the days when overly bitter espresso with a distinctively burned undertone was the best coffee available in the French capital. If you're a coffee snob (like I am), the advent of the gourmet coffee bar is a welcome trend. Some may lament the abandonment of tradition, or the influx of hipster culture in the city. But let's face it: if you're looking for a quality roast or an impeccably executed latté, you'll want to read further.
Read related feature: Best Traditional Cafes in Paris
Gourmet Coffee Bar #1: Télescope Café
02 of 06
Télescope Café is a small, simple café on the outskirts of the Palais Royal in the centermost district of the 1st Arrondissement. With a tiny menu, no Wifi, and effortless décor, Télescope puts the spotlight on its coffee, which is exceptional. Although no longer roasting its own coffee beans, this café imports rare beans from around the world. There are a few nibbles available should you be hungry, but come for the coffee rather than the food. My café filtre was made using a pour-over, and took about five minutes to be ready. For this reason, you may only want to order the café filtre (filter coffee) if you have some spare time. There are about four tables where you can enjoy your coffee, and outside lies a tiny makeshift terrace. Bags of coffee beans, coffee-making devices, and granola are for sale on a shelf next to the counter should you want to continue the trend at home.
My advice: take a café crème in-house while perusing the morning papers (they have all the best Francophone ones available). If it’s a nice day, you may even wish to grab your drink to go, and head to the adjacent Palais Royal for a stroll.
Address: 5 rue Villedo, 1st Arrondissement
Tel: +33 1 42 61 33 14
Also nearby/Read Related: Maceo, for fine (vegetarian-friendly) French gastronomy...
03 of 06
Lockwood: Gourmet Coffee in the Old Textile District
From the brothers who created Belleville Brûlerie, Ten Belles and Le Bal comes Lockwood, an ultra-hip café and bar located in the old textile district known as Sentier, and in close range of the pedestrian-only Rue Montorgueil area. Thomas, Olivier and Christophe Lehoux have taken the coffee and cocktail world by storm, curating a flurry of cafés and bars around Paris and Sydney, Australia. Lockwood is the latest project of the latter two brothers.
Drop by in the morning for a truly excellent cup of coffee brought to you by the family’s very own Belleville Brûlerie, and nibble on assorted breakfast treats. Approaching Lockwood, you'll walk through a small terrace with two fur-topped birchwood stools and a beautiful tree- stump table. Fittingly named, Lockwood features a wood-heavy, warm aesthetic that continues throughout the interior. Lockwood serves as a café during the day, and a spot for aperitifs (before-dinner drinks) come evening.
Address: 73 Rue d’Aboukir, 3rd Arrondissement
Tel: +33 1 77 32 97 21
04 of 06
Café Strada is a tiny and charming coffee shop tucked away on Rue du Temple in the Marais. The space is decidedly unpretentious, with eclectic furniture, local artwork, and a busy front counter. The coffee is made from local L’Arbre à Café beans, and is simply delicious. You can also choose from a great daily selection of tartines, salads, and baked goods. My favorite thing about this café (besides the coffee) is probably the rustic wooden basket that sits on the counter filled with an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Choose any combination of them for a freshly squeezed juice.
I talked to barista François to find out more about Café Strada. He told me that the coffee shop has a largely expat clientele with a very Anglophone feel. The staff of talented baristas is comprised of Canadians and Swedes, and you can feel free to order in English. Despite this, he explained, it was actually started by a French woman in 2012, who noticed a lack of places to enjoy high-quality coffee in the Marais. Café Strada is a great place to stop by for some java on your way to the Centre Georges Pompidou, which is just a block away.
Address: 94 rue du Temple, 3rd Arrondissement
Metro: Arts et Métiers, Rambuteau
Tel: +33 1 44 61 09 28Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Lined with red tiles imported from Sevilla, 1960’s Hermes wallpaper and exposed brick, Café Loustic has the trendy aesthetic down pat. Take a seat here in one of the comfy booths clad with plush pillows and swinging tabletops. Seasoned coffee expert and owner Channa Galhenage says he made sure that Café Loustic offers top-quality coffee beans, and the drinks do not contradict his claims. My café crème was decorated with elaborate latté art, and the freshly baked snickerdoodle cookie was the perfect snack. Galhenage sat down with me to explain his vision for Loustic: a union French “café culture” which celebrates the social aspects of drinking coffee, and the traditionally Anglophone “coffee culture” which celebrates the coffee itself. Et voilà: a café that offers both top-notch drinks as well as the perfect ambiance for a good chat.
You could be tempted to stay for hours, but know that you may be asked to put your laptop away should the café become crowded, as so to keep in line with Galhenage’s ethos. The music selection can also be a bit strange (I was at one point regaled with an entire album of reggae Michael Jackson covers… what?). It may be wise to save your trip to Café Loustic for a coffee date with a friend or browsing the excellent magazine selection.
Address: 40 rue Chapon, 3rd Arrondissement
Metro: Arts et Métiers, Rambuteau
Tel: +33 9 80 31 07 06
06 of 06
Café Lomi: For Gourmet Coffee Away From the Crowds
Café Lomi diverges from the other gourmet coffee shops on this list in one major way: its location. Far from the scenic Seine river or the hip Marais district, Lomi calls the bustling urban neighborhood known as "La Goutte D’Or" (the golden drop) in the northern reaches of the 18th arrondissement its home. Inside, you will find a charming space with an industrial yet cozy feel, friendly staff, and amazing coffee. With a great seating selection including some comfy leather couches, and free, super-fast WiFi, Café Lomi is a great place to get some work done.
I asked Barista Tom what makes the café special, and he immediately brought me to the back room to see the in-house roasting equipment, and then introduced me to the roaster himself, Paul. Together, the two explained that Café Lomi actually emerged out of finding a great location to roast coffee beans.
Café Lomi caters to a mostly French clientele, although all its baristas speak English. They tell me that given the location in La Goutte D’Or, the café welcomes many random visitors who stop in unexpectedly and are pleasantly surprised by the wonderful coffee and tasty treats. You can thus expect a more eclectic crowd here, with more than just the hip Brooklyn vibe. After your coffee, head to the nearby Marché St-Ouen flea market to get a real taste for the area.
Address: 3 ter rue Marcadet, 18th arrondissement
Tel: +33 9 80 39 56 24