I first became aware of Loustic after a tip-off from Fancy a Cuppa?, who I’d sent ahead to scout out Paris for me. It’s a lovely spot, tucked away on rue Chapon and, while not far from the Pompidou Centre, it’s off the regular tourist track.
Unashamedly blending French café culture with speciality coffee, Loustic is the brain-child of Channa, an ex-pat Brit, who has lived in Paris for the last 13 years. He seems to have managed it as well, with a customer split of about 70% locals to 30% tourists/ex-pats, a much higher ratio than several other Parisian speciality coffee places I’ve visited.
Loustic itself is long and thin, but a masterpiece of internal design, with a clever use of mirrors giving it a much bigger feel. At the same time, it’s split into three distinct seating areas, giving it a cosy, sometimes intimate, nature. The coffee is from Caffènation in Antwerp, while the tea is also very good (as vouched for by no lesser an expert than Mr Fancy a Cuppa himself). To round things off, there’s an interesting array of cakes and a selection of savoury tarts for when you need that little bit more.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
From the outset, Loustic’s quirky nature comes to the fore (Loustic is French slang, meaning, loosely, a smart-aleck, or cheeky know-it-all). Stepping inside, you find yourself in a long, thin space, the shop stretching out ahead of you. Immediately to your left, between counter and window, are a pair bucket seats and a single, octagonal table (all the tables are octagonal). Next comes the counter, espresso machine first, which takes up the rest of the left-hand side.
Opposite it is a long, padded bench with small tables on projecting arms at every other seat. This area was inspired by the Orient Express and is done out like a station waiting room. It certainly makes the ideal spot to sit and wait for your coffee, watching Channa at work behind the counter. A long shelf runs above the bench, full of goodies, such as bags of Caffènation coffee.
Beyond the counter, a narrow corridor leads into a small room, which looks much larger than it is thanks to two floor-to-ceiling mirrors, one on either side. There are a couple of tables on the right-hand side (although you could do what I did and step into the mirror to your left, thinking that there are two more on that side!). Each has a large, bucket chair and a small stool for seating.
Finally, right at the back, up a couple of steps at the back of the second room, is another, larger seating area with padded benches along the right-hand and back walls. There are two long tables and two small tables, each with its own cluster of little stools. It’s both quite spacious (comparatively) and cosy back here, another large mirror to the right adding to the sense of space.
Given its nature, there’s not much natural light in Loustic, even on the brightest of days. However, plenty of internal lights, plus the mirrors, means that it’s far from dark.
Loustic, from its inception, has worked with Antwerp roaster, Caffènation. Described by Channa as taking its coffee seriously but with a sense of fun, I can see what he means. The coffee is certainly first-rate. I passed on the standard Spro Joe seasonal espresso blend (which Channa tends to reserve for the milk-based drinks) and went for the Brazilian single-origin on the second grinder. This was a little bright for me as an espresso, but had a nice mouth-feel and no sharpness to it. It also improved on the second and third sips.
Channa rotates his coffee on a weekly basis and had just received an El Salvador Finca Santa Ana. I had this through the V60 and it was nothing short of superb. A really smooth coffee, with great body, it’s packed full of flavour. Channa, nice man that he is, gave me some to take home and I can confirm that even I can make it taste wonderful!
I also tried the food. There were several vegetarian options, including filled bagels. I went for a courgette and feta tart, which was lovely. The cake range includes cookies and muffins, while I selected the pistachio and raspberry bread. Cake shouldn’t really be green, but this was amazing: a really moist cake, slightly denser than a sponge, with a rich pistachio flavour and whole raspberries on the bottom.
|40 RUE CHAPON • PARIS • 75003 • FRANCE|
|www.facebook.com/cafeloustic||+33 9 80 31 07 06|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, benches, bench outside|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 19:00||Power||Yes|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:00||Mobile||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||30th August 2014|
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