In terms of Paris’ third-wave coffee scene, La Caféothèque has been around forever, first opening its doors nine years ago when even the London scene was in its infancy. Since then, it’s been steadily going about its business, that of educating the French coffee-drinking public that there’s more to coffee than “un café, s’il vous plait”.
Of all my Parisian Coffee Spots, it feels the most French, from its look and feel, all the way down to the ownership and staff, all of whom were French. La Caféothèque roasts all its own coffee, with owner and head roaster, Gloria, working the 3kg Toper in the front of the store, from dawn until dusk (and often beyond). You can have any of 20 different beans (all single origins, no blends here) via any of 10 different brew methods.
When it comes to seating, you’re also spoiled for choice. There are two counters (three, if you count the retail counter as you come in), with four separate salons, spread around a sprawling old building located across the Seine from the Ile St Louis. With a small selection of food and a mouth-watering range of cakes, tarts and pastries, there’s something for everyone.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
For a sense of the size of La Caféothèque, approach from the east along rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville. It seems you pass two separate stores, each of which could be a café in its own right, before arriving at the door. Going one better, approach from the north, down rue Geoffrey l’Asnier, and there’s what could be a fourth potential café! These are, of course, the different salons, which becomes apparent when you step inside.
Crossing the threshold, you realise you’ve found somewhere special. To your left is the Toper, roasting away, and beyond it, a long counter, behind which are bins of coffee beans, holding all 20 of La Caféothèque’s current output. As well as buying your beans here, you also pay for your coffee on your way out, something I’ve not seen before in a coffee shop.
Ahead, beyond the far end of the counter, is the first salon. I’ve been told that this salon, plus the main room, was originally all there was to La Caféothèque and that over the years it’s grown to encompass the two adjacent stores (which explains its exterior appearance). This is the largest of the salons, with its own counter, complete with 3-group La Marzocco, and what appears to be a random scattering of tables.
Back in the main room, an opening in the wall on your right leads to the second salon. Long and thin, it extends to your right, ending in a window bar overlooking the street. Opposite you is a padded bench against the far wall, while to your left a corridor, with a second, bright yellow Toper, runs ahead of you, giving access to the remaining two salons.
The first of these is the smallest, containing, in the far corner, the second counter, with a 2-group La Marzocco. Beyond the counter, windows overlook rue Geoffrey l’Asnier, which provides the natural limit to La Caféothèque’s expansion. A row of bar chairs fills the space between counter and windows, from where you can watch the baristas at work. Alternatively, there’s a table opposite the counter, next to the entrance to the fourth salon.
This is the nicest and brightest, occupying the corner spot, with windows on both sides. It runs parallel to the second and, with no counter and nowhere else to go, it has the least thoroughfare. It also has the most interesting furniture and is full of plants.
Turning to the coffee, 20 single-origin beans through any of 10 methods is a startling array of choice, so if it’s all too much for you, just go for the coffee of the day, which was a Pulcal from Guatemala. I tried it as a piccolo, finding a little dry. I followed this up with a decaf flat white, which I also found a little dry. There was nothing wrong with either, just a matter of taste. The milk, however, was superb, with a wonderful texture, the latte-art holding all the way to the bottom of the cup.
I talked to Gloria before I left, who told me something of La Caféothèque’s philosophy. In many ways, La Caféothèque was ahead of its time, working closely with farmers, buying small lots and never blending beans. There’s also a strong ethos of educating the coffee-drink public, with regular cuppings and explanatory tasting cards.
|52 RUE DE L’HÔTEL-DE-VILLE • PARIS • 75004 • FRANCE|
|www.lacafeotheque.com||+33 1 53 01 83 84|
|Monday||09:30 – 19:30||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs, Bars, Bench Outside|
|Tuesday||09:30 – 19:30||Food||Breakfast, lunch, cake|
|Wednesday||09:30 – 19:30||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||09:30 – 19:30||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||09:30 – 19:30||Wifi||No|
|Saturday||09:30 – 19:30||Power||Yes|
|Sunday||09:30 – 19:30||Mobile||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||30th August 2014|
You can see what my friends and fellow-bloggers Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato and Fancy a Cuppa? made of La Caféothèque (and in the case of Fancy a Cuppa? he also visited Loustic and Dose, Dealer de Cafe).
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