The New Parisian Cafe: La Fontaine de Belleville

1 June 2016
La Fontaine de Belleville

Before the weather took a nosedive (The Local reported that it has been the rainiest month of May since 1873), I was celebrating the opening of the ultimate Parisian neighborhood café by engaging in the consummate Parisian pastime, apéro hour. La Fontaine de Belleville, the first café extension from the roasters behind Belleville Brûlerie, is the quintessential corner hangout, adapted to today’s tastes. By which I mean that it blends quality coffee, quality craft beer, wine and spirits and simply delicious snacks like pain perdu and yogurt for breakfast, croque monsieur for lunch, and top-shelf cheese and charcuterie for evening nibbles, in a space that successfully looks both to the past and to the future with glorious effect. It’s a warm environment with spacious terrace seating, enjoyable music, and a rollicking vibe that sends the message that Parisians will never, under any circumstance, relinquish their bon vivant tendencies. But most importantly, it sees the gap between the specialty coffee world and the Parisian café idiom close just enough so that devotees of both can feel satisfied. Operating as a café since 1915, the café had a firm identity and a loyal set of regulars. The Belleville trio David Flynn, Thomas Lehoux and Jeff Marois didn’t want to radically alter its visual […]…

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How to Find Good Coffee in Paris

6 March 2015

Last year I shared with you WHERE you can find specialty coffee in Paris (a post that is regularly updated). Now, I want to share HOW to find the best in a market that is rapidly maturing. The below is the unedited version of a coffee story I wrote for the NYT T Magazine this week, with loads of additional thoughts from the coffee movement’s experts.  *** The coffee tune in Paris has changed. In the last two years, coffee has evolved from much-maligned to much-adored by a burgeoning set of specialty coffee aficionados, celebrated as much for the newfound awareness the third wave movement inspired as for the talents pioneering it. With new openings every few months, the market is rapidly maturing. But with greater choice comes a greater challenge for the coffee lover. Given the growing democratization of artisanal coffee, particularly in Paris, almost anyone with business acumen and an ability to ape the coffee shop pre-requisites – colorful Inker ceramic mugs, La Marzocco machinery, minimalist, distressed wood interiors, artisanal cakes and tattooed baristas – can presumably open and run a shop. With those characteristics firmly in place, the assumption among many is that the product must be quality. Lest […]…

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