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.
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|
|Chain||No||Visits||1st September 2014|
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