As if anyone needed another reason to spend time in the neighborhood surrounding the Palais Royal and its gardens, my favorite new coffee shop is mere blocks away. At Télescope, Nicolas Clerc (photographer-barista) and David Flynn (expert barista formerly of Le Bal) peddle the kind of exceptional coffee that makes bean connoisseurs everywhere reconsider Paris as a suitable stomping ground to fuel their obsession.
Of course it helps that these two apt roasters have equipped their earthy, rue Villedo café with first-rate machines. They are the first in the city to use the Über Boiler from Irish brand Marco which precisely regulates the quantity of water and temperature necessary to produce a consistently perfect, flavor-locked brew or infusion.
My first visit was two days after they opened for business, right at 8:30am. I was so impressed by the machinery and their poised expertise that I immediately felt compelled to imbibe myself with what would turn out to be an inordinate amount of coffee. I began with the sumptuously rich crème and a toasted Poujauran tartine topped with jam for a breakfast so sublimely simple and delicious I mentally scheduled my next visit on the spot.
Then just as I looked at my watch and gasped at the hour – I would be late for work – David sauntered over to my bay window table and delivered a pot of their filtered coffee of the moment (Colombian, prepared to order), masterfully brewed with the Über Broiler, and a slice of banana bread. “You have to try these”, he said smiling. Work would have to wait.
One mini La Rochère cup sent a surprising jolt – an intense brew with distinctive notes that shames the acrid, over-roasted Robusta shots served across Paris. Between sips and bites of banana bread, which was dense and flavorful, I chatted with Nicolas about the lengthy realization and architectural hiccups that preceded the launch. Given the proximity to the Palais Royal, a protected historical site, the door, signage, and front windows had to be vetted by the city. A non-issue in the end. “Everyone is thrilled to have our business in the neighborhood”, Nicolas added.
Télescope’s appeal extends far beyond its star baristas and luxury roasts. Its diminutive space, and minimalist décor – a gorgeous, custom wood counter, exposed wood beams and vase of freshly cut flowers around the room – help keep the focus on the coffee while the calm of the street reels in inveterate café-goers looking for quiet and a place to lay out the newspaper.
It is the café we all dream of frequenting, where the baristas behind the bar know your name, your beverage of choice and consistently offer an out-of-cup experience. My only grievance is that Télescope doesn’t land on my route to work but if ever an impractical detour should be made it’s for a caffeinated moment in the presence of this charismatic duo.
*Update: David Flynn has recently left Télescope to open Belleville Brûlerie roastery but Nicolas and his barista crew remain; the quality and experience are unchanged.