Fondation Café

The A-board from outside Foundation Cafe in Paris.Fondation, situated near the northern edge of the Marais, not far from Place de République, is a tiny place, where the outside seating, on the quiet rue Dupetit-Thouars, out numbers the seating inside.

Fondation is one of the new breed of French cafés that have sprung up around the capital in the last few years. It takes some of its inspiration from nearby Ten Belles, drawing in a mainly ex-pat crowd, which perhaps explains why it’s one of the few Parisian cafés to stay open in August. In style and feel, Fondation wouldn’t be out of place in London or New York, although it uses local roasters, Belleville.

There’s not much food, just a small, but impressive selection of cakes and pastries on offer, although again the choice is more slanted to British/American tastes than traditional French patisserie. Unusually you order at the counter, but pay when you leave.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Foundation Cafe, looking splendid in the September sunshine.
  • Nice A-board.
  • Even nicer! The reduced hours are just for August. At least Foundation is open!
  • Some of the outside seating, whiich, at Foundation, is in the majority!
  • Standing inside, looking out...
  • ... and, turning around, that's about all there is inside Foundation!
  • Some of the tables and the triangular stools along the bench on the left-hand wall.
  • What's that on the little bar on the opposite wall? Looks like Keep Cups to me...
  • JOCO Cup eyes them suspiciously. You'd think, both being Aussies, they'd get along.
  • The Keep Cup pyramid in detail.
  • This row of shelves sits above the bench on the left-hand wall.
  • I wonder who the coffee at Foundation is roasted by?
  • In case you were in any doubt, it's local roaster, Belleville.
  • The obligatory light bulb shot.
  • With that out of the way, it's down to business. The counter's at the far end of Foundation.
  • The menu is on the right-hand wall.
  • Something from the lovely, Kees van der Westen espresso machine?
  • The grinders are to the right, one for the espresso house-blend, and an EK-43 for the rest.
  • There's also bulk-brew filter.
  • My coffee, delightfully presented in a lovely green cup.
  • The milk was superbly steamed, holding its pattern right down to the bottom of the cup.
  • I also fancied something sweet. The selection was small, but impressive.
  • In the end I decided on the lemon tart.
  • Afterwards I was invited behind the counter to watch the Kees van der Westen in action.
  • I love a bottomless portafilter. Here we're just at the start of the extraction.
  • So far there are two streams, quite common early on.
  • A third stream starts to form...
  • ... then they all coalesce into one.
  • Lovely pour.
  • Chris, the barista, also let me watch while he did some latte art.
  • This is something else I never tire of watching.
  • The key, of course, is in steaming the milk.
  • Although I'm also convinced that the positioning of the index fniger is crucial...
  • Almost there...
  • Just one final flourish...
  • And we're done.
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Fondation spills out onto the pavement of the quiet rue Dupetit-Thouars with a pair of tables either side of the glass front. Each has two chairs, plus there’s a long bench on each side at the shop end. An awning provides some shelter from the sun/rain.

Fondation is pretty narrow: not quite stretch-out-your-arms-and-touch-both-walls narrow, but it’s a close-run thing. The front is entirely glass, with a door and pivoting windows which can be completely opened in the summer, effectively linking the interior with the exterior. This has the advantage that inside Fondation, with its whitewashed walls and ceiling, it’s incredibly bright and airy.

Fondation isn’t very wide and it’s not much deeper too. Inside it’s dominated by the counter at the back, which takes up almost half the space. The counter in turn is dominated by the lovely Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine, which leaves just enough space to the right for the cake and the till. The grinders are on the side to the left of the espresso machine.

There’s not much seating inside and, in layout, it’s reminiscent of Charlie’s Coffee Shop in St Albans.Three small tables run alongside a wooden bench that occupies the left-hand wall, each with a small, triangular stool. Opposite that is a very narrow bar on the right that you could stand at, sharing space with a pyramid of Keep Cups and the carafes of water.

Although some of its inspirations are international, Fondation’s coffee menu is very typically French with a minimalist espresso-based menu, supplemented by bulk-brew filter, tea and hot chocolate. I had a noisette, which, while well-made and with beautifully-steamed milk which held the latte-art all the way to the bottom of the cup, wasn’t really to my tastes. The coffee, from Belleville, was a little too bright for me and, I felt, didn’t go well with the milk, striking a slightly discordant note.

The lemon tart I had with it, however, was superb. It had a sweet, pastry base, generous lemon filling and topped with cream and meringue.

Afterward I chatted with Aussie barista, Chris, who came from Ten Belles, and who runs Fondation with fellow Aussie Stefan and Danielle, who is half-Finnish, half-French.

16 RUE DUPETIT-THOUARS • PARIS • 75003 • FRANCE
www.facebook.com/fondationcafe
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Belleville (espresso + bulk-brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 1st September 2014

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