The best coffee in Paris: our top 10
For almost every member of the MyFrenchLife™ team, a good cup of coffee is a much-loved (and much-needed) part of our daily routines.
Et pour moi, the last sip of coffee at home before boarding the plane to France feels like a long, melancholy goodbye to a lover. Yes, my lover is coffee. And oui, I understand that’s a tad worrisome, and a little snobbish.
The thing is, I’ve succumbed to my obsession for coffee and fallen deeply en amour with its strong, deep, and flavourful character. Some people feel that way about wine, others about fine food, great literature or art.
Whatever it is, there’s a longing that comes with separation. For Francophiles, it’s the separation from France; for vino-files it’s going dry for a month; for coffee lovers it’s the removal from an abundance of great coffee shops.
So, if you’re anything like us, a really great cup of coffee is something to be sought out with zeal. As we’ve discussed both in the office and in published articles on our magazine (ad nauseum, it seems), some of the worst coffees we’ve ever had in our lives were sadly consumed in France. For all we love about l’Hexagone, and for all the things they get so right (bread, pastry, wine, la mode) – this is one sticking point.
As MyFrenchLife™ correspondent Peter Ong explains, however, “it’s not all doom and muddy espressos though – a new generation of bearded café owners are seeking to change this, fiercely leading a charge with single-origin, locally roasted coffee.”
So, we’ve compiled the cream of the crop into our top ten – along with a few bonus spots because just selecting ten was too hard. Alors, this is our top ten plus three…
Coutume – try both their cafés
Coutume is the brainchild of Australian expat, Tom Clark, along with his French co-founder Antoine Netien. It began as a roastery, and now has two café outposts: the original on rue de Babylone, and a second (Coutume Instituuti) attached to the Institut Finlandais in the 5th. They make their coffee strong, and offer an extensive coffee menu for those who prefer their coffee with milk, without milk, short, long, or anywhere in-between.
Un petit conseil: if you prefer your café experience sans an abundance of laptops, this might not be the place for you. With free wifi on offer, both of Coutume’s cafés have become remote-working hotspots. As a team full of coffee lovers and remote workers, however, we completely love it…
47 rue de Babylone, 75007
60 rue des Ecoles, 75005
Co-owned and run by Sydney-sider Chris Nielsen, this hole-in-wall café is often overflowing with coffee-loving patrons, from locals to bloggers and hipster French types who have sauntered up from the Marais or down from the Canal Saint Martin.
In Chris’ opinion, Fondation “is serving up some of the best coffee in the city”; something of which he’s very proud. I can safely say that this cup will live up to Australian standards, so it’s time you headed to the Haut Marais to try it for yourself. Chris is there most days, steaming up some quality coffee in Fondation’s signature mint green cups.
16 rue Dupetit Thouars, 75003
Tucked away in a side street on the edge of the Marais and Bastille neighbourhoods, Fragments is unimposing – and open on weekends. It’s a great place to take a book and savour a flat white (or two) for the afternoon.
76 rue des Tournelles, 75003
Café Craft is another boon for remote workers: it’s a coworking space-cum-café, where patrons pay either for the time they stay or the food and drink they consume. Manager (as well as chef and barista extraordinaire) Félipe has created the foodie and coffee lover’s ideal workspace, but even if you’re not working, it’s well worth a visit. And be sure to order a piece of the Apricot and Basil cake with your coffee!
24 rue des Vinaigriers 75010
Just across the Canal from Craft is Ten Belles. This place gets busy, so don’t be surprised if there’s a line out the door. Our favourite spot is upstairs on the mezzanine – perfect for people-watching as you sip your flat white. The coffee is top notch, and the treats are rather indulgent.
10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010
Most ‘new wave cafés’ in Paris have two things in common: great coffee and such unassuming locations that you could quite easily walk past without noticing. Telescope fits into both categories. Their flat white is excellent, but for connoisseurs, the filtered coffee is also well worth trying.
A warning for laptop-users, however: if you open yours up, you’ll be asked to close it tout de suite. Best to stick to books here, and head down the road to Anticafé if you’re in need of a spot to work nearby.
5 rue Villedo, 75001
You might be forgiven for thinking that Holybelly is another expat-run café, but, in fact, the founders are French. One half of this duo is Nico Alary, a photographer, foodie and barista who worked with Market Lane Coffee in Melbourne for several years. He’s transported Melbourne’s coffee and brunch obsession to the Canal St Martin neighbourhood, and given it an American touch.
The only downside for Francophiles is that much of your interaction here – and the general background conversation – may be in English. While the Australian guy who took my order made me nostalgic for banter with waiters over Saturday morning brunches back home, it’s not exactly the reason I came to France. Still, the coffee and brunch are so delicious that I’d go back to Holybelly every week if I could.
19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
As far as good coffee in Paris goes, La Caféothèque are the pioneers. They were the first café to open focusing on quality, single origin coffee. As well as being a café, they also sell beans and run courses – they’ve trained some of the best baristas in Paris. If you’re after coffee expertise, this is the place to go.
My favourite coffee is their noisette – go for the coffee of the day, and ask the barista a little more about where it comes from and the aromas and tastes you can expect to find in the brew.52 rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004
At 4m2, Boot Café wins the prize for Paris’ smallest café serving great coffee. Co-founders Phil Euell and Elsa Dahan have set up shop in a former cobbler’s store – it even has the original ‘Cordonnerie‘ sign. The coffee is delicious, but be prepared to grab a takeaway in case all the tables are taken.
19 rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003
KB is another pioneer, as one of the first cafés of its kind in Paris when it opened back in 2010. Owner Nicolas Piègay spent a sizeable amount of time in Sydney before moving back to Paris, determined to change the culture around coffee in France.
Tucked away in a quiet and rather picturesque corner of Pigalle, we’d recommend a flat white and a slice of their peach and pistachio tart (if it’s on offer), enjoyed in the sun at one of the tables out the front. Our only warning for KB: it is a traveller haven.
53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009
Three bonus cafés…
Don’t miss the cosy and tasty Blackburn on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin in the 10th, The Broken Arm, just down the road from Fondation on the edge of Square du Temple, and Café Lomi tucked away in the 18th.
Alors, have you been to any of the cafés that made our list? What is your go-to coffee du jour? Tell us below!
All images © Hannah Duke.