Where to Drink Specialty Coffee in Paris

13 December 2013

Wine, cheese, coffee and pastry- the bedrock of most idyllic Parisian holidays. And while the city delivers on nearly each of these crucial comestibles, they’ve fallen terribly short for years when it comes to the swill masquerading as coffee. That’s right, le café has been much maligned (I’ve alluded to this HERE and in this interview) and with good reason – the beans (typically Robusta) tend to be substandard in quality and over-roasted; the machines are old and ill-managed and the baristas are either poorly trained or completely indifferent (or both). I can no longer count on two hands the number of times I’ve been served espresso that had been sitting at the bar, completely forgotten in the shuffle of other orders (or in many cases, conversation that distracted the waiters), only to have it arrive cold and undrinkable. If you’re used to drinking watered-down coffee in your hometown – and this is by no means a reproach; the average home-brewed coffee seems to naturally produce a weak, tasteless product -you may not find Paris coffee that offensive. I started drinking coffee upon moving to Paris but it was really only once I traveled to London and New York, homes to […]…

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Roasted in Paris

8 December 2010

Humans are conditioned by routine and repetition. As children, we request to hear the same bedtime story to rock us to sleep, we take our assigned seats in school, we doodle in our notebooks with our favorite pens and pencils, and we sleep on the same side of our beds with our cherished stuffed animals until these routines evolve into new habits. This familiarity comforts us when we fumble and uplifts us during moments of loneliness and lostness. The inherent need for routine carries on into adulthood and allows us to adapt to new environments. As we get older, move out of our parent’s house and start traveling the world, whether by choice or obligation, we naturally look for familiar markers – places, sounds, shops, feelings – that allow us to regain the bearings we had as children. This seems particularly true in the case of travelers.  Traveling through major cities of Western Europe, for example, is not much of a departure from traveling to most American cities – chain restaurants and recognizable clothing stores line the boulevards, English is usually spoken in some capacity and H&M shops make for visible landmarks on every corner. While it is still possible […]…

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Watching la ligne…

6 August 2009

(The Sartorialist) Throw everything you’ve ever heard about the beautiful figures of French women out the window. It’s a fallacy. If I have learned anything from my Parisian life it is that “French Women Don’t Get Fat” is misleading and puts French women on a diet pedestal. Despite what you may think, each morning does not begin with a croissant or pain au chocolat in one hand and an espresso in the other, on the terrace of a café where Simone de Beauvoir philosophized with Sartre, while pausing between bites to puff from a cigarette. They may have a genetic predisposition to a slim frame but don’t be mistaken – most of them can’t get away with eating the way that the rest of the world thinks they eat. The preponderance of eating disorders, diet pills and legal addictive stimulants tells me that maybe American women shouldn’t be looking at Parisian women (because I get myself in trouble when I generalize and say French women) as models of healthy behaviors. They do use Diet Coke, coffee and cigarettes as a non-fat method of suppressing their appetites and they do talk about their bodies and weight with just as much compulsion […]…

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What happened?

21 July 2009

So this isn’t really a post about life in Paris but it’s in response to a discussion that was started in the Current and Former Starbucks employee group on LinkedIn and I felt like I had something to say about it. And the topic is….. what happened?  I worked as a barista for 2 years and quickly realized that Starbucks wasn’t living up to its award as one of the Fortune 500 Best companies to work for in the U.S., which is what initially motivated me to apply. Now, having been observing the ebbs and flows of the company from the outside for 3 years I see a remarkable decline in the consistency of their brand image. In its beginnings, Starbucks brought the European coffee culture to America, creating a space where people could meet and dialogue over high quality COFFEE beverages. A relaxing environment where friends could chat over coffee, nothing more. The legendary service provided by the barista was meant to be a non-negotiable and yet over time that too has slipped. Instead of focusing on the legendary service and high quality beverages in an attempt to create a 3rd space, Starbucks has tottered between coffeehouse and fast […]…

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