Télescope

A carved owl in the corner between counter and door at Télescope in Paris.Télescope is one of those semi-legendary Parisian cafés that’s closely associated with the rise of third-wave coffee in the French capital. I first tried to visit in May 2013, but was put off by the queue which reached out of the door and so gave it a miss. My loss.

Returning to Paris last summer, I made a point of putting Télescope top of my list and was quite fortunate to call in on the last day of my trip, which, coincidentally, was Télescope’s first day open after the holidays. Perhaps that explained the lack of queues this time around. Télescope is, by the way, pretty small, with just enough room for a few tables and the counter, which might also explain the queues on my first visit. It doesn’t take much before it’s overflowing!

Once inside, the focus is firmly on the coffee, with a regular rotation of beans from a range of roasters from around the world. The espresso typically changes every week, while there are usually two or three options through the Aeropress. Télescope also does a traditional French petit déjeuner and there’s an excellent selection of cake if you need some sustenance during the day!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Telescope on rue Villedo, the modest store front hiding the delights within.
  • It's a fairly small space as you can see from this angle.
  • There's a bench out front and, in summer, the windows and doors are thrown open.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door...
  • ... and a panoramic view from the back, which takes in all the seating!
  • Talking of which... It was pretty full while I was there.
  • A rare unoccupied table!
  • A view across the counter to the stairs, enticingly located at the back.
  • These lead down to the basement which is used for private functions and coffee cuppings.
  • The basement from the opposite end...
  • ... and in more detail.
  • I loved the basement & reluctantly went back upstairs, although that's where the coffee is!
  • It also has a lovely floor, plus there's daylight, which is always a bonus!
  • Telescope occupies a beautiful, old building with lots of great features, such as this pillar.
  • There are also loads of nice touches, such as these coat hooks.
  • There are also owls. Every coffee shop should have an owl or two...
  • ... or three or four or twenty. I lost count when I ran out of fingers and toes!
  • More owls.
  • As well as lots of owls, Telescope has more than its fair share of great light-fittings.
  • See what I mean?
  • This lovely one is down in the basement.
  • There's also a copy of Tim Wendelbow's book if you need some reading material.
  • How cool is Telescope? Cool enough for both grinders to have their own mobile phones!
  • There's a pretty funky menu too.
  • Telescope had just re-opened after its holiday and had had its first delivery of coffee!
  • This is the one that I had...
  • If you really like it, you can always buy some to take home.
  • My espresso, with a glass of water, naturally.
  • There is also a decent selection of cake, although I didn't indulge.
  • There's also bread for breakfast.
  • Whle I was chatting at the counter, plenty of coffee was made, so I started taking photos.
  • It didn't take long for the latte art to start to get really complicated :-)
  • It wasn't just espresso-based drinks though. Telescope majors on filter coffee...
  • ... in this case an Aeropress of a Kenyan from local roasters Belleville.
  • First the ground coffee (14 grams) goes into the chamber...
  • ... then we're ready for the water. No inverted method here.
  • Telescope employs a single-pour method, not leaving the coffee to bloom.
  • The water heater has all the latest features, including a variable nozzle .
  • This ensures that the water is spread around the Aeropress.
  • The water added (all 200 ml of it), all we need to do now is wait...
  • While the coffee brews, the glass and saucer are put out in readiness.
  • What's this? A quick stir before plunging? That's a new one on me!
  • Coffee stirred, we're ready to plunge, just a minute after the water started pouring.
  • I love watching baristas making coffee, seeing all the different variations...
  • ... and here we go, 15 seconds later, plunge complete.
  • All that remains is to pour the coffee out for serving.
  • Looks lovely. And it tasted as lovely as it looked!
  • All done. I always approve of leaving some in the carafe :-)
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Situated on rue Villedo on Paris’ Right Bank, not far from Le Palais Royal, I was surprised to learn that Télescope only opened in 2012, thinking, given its reputation, that it’d been around for much longer. Annoyingly, I used to stay in a nearby hotel, but just as Télescope opened, I decamped east of the centre, fed up with rising prices and falling quality, particularly breakfast. If only I’d known about Télescope, I’d have hung around!

From the outside, Télescope cuts a modest figure, a grey-painted façade in a wide, quiet street, which makes sitting outside on the bench an option (although you’ll share it with locals, smoking as they take their coffee). The front’s given over to a door and three-paned window running the full width of the store. Since the windows are almost floor-to-ceiling, it’s very bright inside, giving it an airy feel despite its small size (it’s about twice as deep as it’s wide).

You can tell that Télescope is serious about its coffee when you consider the space given over to the counter. Directly ahead of you as you come in, cakes to the fore, it takes up almost the whole left-hand side of the store. The seating, in the form of a bench, is arranged in an L-shape around it, starting in front of the window and extending half-way down the right-hand wall, where it is accompanied by a row of tables. Beyond the bench are the banisters protecting the stairs down to the basement, a wonderful stone-vaulted affair that’s sometimes used for cuppings and private functions.

The building feels old: I’ve no idea of its vintage, but I’d guess a couple of hundred years at least if the basement is anything to go by. Upstairs, it’s all wood and whitewashed walls, with a whitewashed ceiling and exposed wooden beams. If you can get a seat, it’s the sort of place you can sit for hours.

The main draw is the coffee though. When I was there, on the first day after a two-week closure for the summer holidays, there had only been one delivery from Has Bean. Télescope rotates its roasters and beans on a regular basis, with the likes of Drop Coffee, Tim Wendelbow and George Howell all making appearances.

Télescope serves a very typical French coffee menu of espresso, noisette and café crème. However, chatting with owner, Nicolas, I discovered that his main passion is filter coffee, with four or five retails bags on the shelves at any one time, two or three of which are available at the counter. Nicolas is also keen to educate his compatriots about great tasting coffee, but he prefers a show and share method rather than telling people what’s what. However, if you show an interest, he’ll happy spend hours talking with you (or maybe it was just me).

I started with an espresso, an Eithopoan Mormora Coffee Plantation from Has Bean which, if I’m honest, was a little too bright for me, but was nonetheless a perfectly good cup of coffee. After chatting with Nicolas, he made me a Kenyan from local roasters, Belleville, through the Aeropress. This was much more to my taste, a complex, smooth coffee that matured and sweetened as it cooled.

Next time I’m not being put off by the queues!

December 2015: Télescope was a runner-up for the 2015 Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.

5 RUE VILLEDO • PARIS • 75001 • FRANCE
www.telescopecafe.com +33 1 48 86 61 23
Monday 08:30 – 17:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Bench Outside
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:00 Food Bread, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 17:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 18:30 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain No Visits 1st September 2014

You can also see what fellow-blogger Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato made of Télescope (she also visited Coutume).


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8 thoughts on “Télescope

  1. I’d live in that basement (with owl #1). Daylight is overrated. Probably want to make my own cake though. Not quite got the french-I-don’t-know-what, y’know?

    Whereof those croissants, of which you tweet, eh?
    A runner for a CSA on ambience, definitely. And owls.

    • I’m sure they’d let you make your own cake if they could have some. The French cakes are very nice though.

      Clearly the croissants had all been eaten by the time I got there. I don’t get up that early you know! And I was staying on the other side of town!

      Perhaps it is time to launch the Coffee Spot Award for Best Owl…

      Brian.

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