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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A Better Brunch in Paris

16 February 2015

Of all the Food topics discussed at length in the last couple of years all over the world, brunch has perhaps been the most polarizing (a couple examples here and here). I’m all for it when the formula is respected – a sweet and savory offering that caters to a variety of tastes, good coffee, a fun atmosphere (since typically this meal is taking place before the start of a new week, a historically dismal day), and a fair price. As an early riser, I like that I can go for a late breakfast and continue my day while sleepyheads roll in after noon to while theirs away. When the craze infiltrated Paris, which I attribute in part to the influence of Sex and the City and a growing openness to Anglo traditions, it was at once parodied and emulated. No reason to reinvent the wheel, just pull the easiest and most cost effective elements from the borrowed concept, wrap it up in a fixed price package and tack on “Le Brunch” label and you’ve got yourself a trend. And it was initially amusing to see how ravenous Parisians were for the idea. Lines regularly snaked onto the sidewalk at Breakfast in America. […]…

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Great Breakfast Spots in Paris

5 January 2014

I feel very strongly about breakfast. So much so, in fact, it pains me that the French, despite their many culinary talents, are such poor stewards of the morning meal. Before you cry out in support of France’s many morning gifts – pastries and bread especially – let me elaborate. I enjoy a flaky buttery croissant like the rest of you but it will never constitute a complete meal. They retain their joy-inducing properties when consumed infrequently (I reserve them for moments when we have guests in town) and are even better when accompanied by something savory and rich in protein. Omelets, my favorite, are inherently versatile but hardly merit an early wake up call when they’re prepared from powdered eggs – what most local brasseries use to make them (and that’s saying nothing of the ingredients inside the omelet…).  And while I’ve spoken at length about how quality coffee is proliferating, you’ll need to be in proximity or willing to travel to one of the specialty shops offering it – take your espresso at an identity-free corner joint at your own risk. But a few individuals – namely a German, an Australian, an American and three French food entrepreneurs […]…

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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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