Table of Contents
- Paris Cafe Culture
- Specialty Coffee in Paris
- Our Favorite Paris Coffee Shops
- Plan Your Paris Trip
- Thirsty for More Coffee in Europe?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
Paris has joined the third wave coffee movement with a vengeance. Discover more than a dozen Paris coffee shops where you can drink seriously good flat whites instead of overpriced muddy water.
Not a new trend, Paris cafe culture dates back to the 17th century when coffee first arrived from the new world. Historically, though, the Paris cafe experience was more about style than substance.
Paris Cafe Culture
Over the years, movies like Amelie and Midnight in Paris romanticized Parisian cafes to the masses. These fictional cafes, ideal for intimate liaisons and people-watching, always seemed to have cozy wood-lined interiors and outdoor sidewalk spaces with street facing tables just millimeters apart.
But, to be frank, French coffee was a dark, bitter experience at real-life Paris cafes until recently. Clearly, Voltaire and Victor Hugo were more concerned about the quality of their spirited conversations than la qualité du café.
Voltaire allegedly drank 40+ cups of coffee every day. If you think that’s insane, Balzac drank 50.
Specialty Coffee in Paris
A decade in the making, the Paris specialty coffee scene is percolating at full blast. While established roasters like La Brûlerie de Belleville and Lomi fuel the city, a new breed of baristas is breathing fresh life into Parisian coffee cups.
This obsessed French city doesn’t mess around when it comes to the art of cuisine and, finally, coffee is no exception to this rule. Flat whites and matcha lattes are now as accessible as the muddy water we used to drink at Paris cafes.
Even stalwarts like Shakespeare & Company Cafe are starting to serve specialty coffee. This doesn’t mean that the city still doesn’t have touristic, overpriced cafes. The trick is knowing where to go for the good stuff.
Our Favorite Paris Coffee Shops
After spending €5 for a dreadful cup of coffee at a traditional cafe near our Paris apartment hotel in early 2019, we made it our personal mission to find great coffee in Paris. We started at Cullier (now closed) and quickly found a burgeoning specialty coffee scene hiding in plain site.
Over a year and during four separate trips, we drank a lot of specialty coffee in arrondissements all over the city from the 1st to the 15th. Many cafes served us buttery croissants and sugary desserts. A few were so good that we returned multiple times to satisfy our never-ending coffee craving.
These are our favorite Paris coffee shops:
La Fontaine de Belleville
La Fontaine de Belleville’s looks are deceiving. Despite its retro decor featuring floor-to-ceiling mirrored walls, a grand zinc horseshoe bar and textured rattan chairs, this Belleville cafe is serving some of the best specialty coffee in the city.
Owners David Flynn and Thomas Lehoux transformed the century-old cafe into its current iteration in 2016, just three years after the duo launched specialty roaster Brûlerie de Belleville.
La Fontaine de Belleville’s coffee program includes espressos, Americanos, filtered coffee, noisettes and café crèmes (i.e. cappuccinos) – all made with beans from Brûlerie de Belleville of course.
Hungry visitors can order a Jambon Bueurre, Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame to go with their coffee. These sandwiches are some of the best in the city.
Return in the evening for an aperitvo session of cocktails, craft beer and plates topped with charcuterie and cheese. If your return happens to be on a Saturday, you’ll enjoy a free Jazz à la Fontaine performance with your snack.
La Fontaine de Belleville is located at 31-33 Rue Juliette Dodu, 75010 Paris, France.
“Have you been to Substance Cafe yet?”
This question followed us as we crawled around Paris’ specialty coffee shops in early 2020. Though only open since the previous Bastille Day, this cafe earned an enviable reputation in a relatively short time due to owner Joachim Morceau’s intense coffee obsession.
It no understatement to call Morceau’s coffee love an obsession – he even refuses to serve his luxury-priced drinks with sugar or in takeaway cups. Drink options include double espressos, macchiatos, cappuccinos, flat whites and filtered coffee as well as rotating coffee specials.
Morceau, whose contagiously entertaining vocal passion matches his exquisitely poofy brown hair, justifies his higher prices with the quality of his coffee. Leave it to the French to appreciate coffee like fine wine. Coffee authorities like Morceau are in the vanguard of this movement.
During our visit, we tried two different drinks, both made with Ethiopian beans from Hong Kong‘s Urban Coffee Roaster. Morceau used washed beans to brew the complex, shareable filter coffee. However, he used natural beans to craft an extraordinary flat white with subtle flavors of blueberry and cheesecake.
Though we’ve imbibed hundreds, if not thousands, of flat whites around the world, this is the first time that a barista insisted we stir our coffee before drinking it. We learned an important lesson in flavor and coffee imbibing. This drink was worth an extra stir.
Not sure what to drink? Order Substance Café’s omakase and let Morceau curate a coffee menu based on your preferences and budget. Omakase pricing started at €20 at the time of our visit.
Substance Café is located at 30 Rue Dussoubs, 75002 Paris, France.
Keeping to theme, hexagon-shaped mirrors decorate the walls of Hexagone Café. Though this decoration is fun, you’ll want to head to this left bank cafe foremost for the cafe’s excellent coffee.
Hexagon is a popular nickname for France due to the European country’s six-sided shape.
Hexagone Café co-owner Stéphane Cataldi roasts the cafe’s beans in Brittany. Parisian baristas brew the award-winning beans in all of the typical varieties including espressos, noisettes, cappuccinos, lattes, frappés and filtered coffee.
Non-coffee drinkers (who are these people?) can drink tea, hot chocolate, orange juice or ginger ale at Hexagone Café. A range of sweet treats is also available for those (like us) with a sweet tooth or two.
Whether you choose a tart, cookie, scone or brownie is up to you. As for us, we’re all about the caramels.
Don’t plan to work at Hexagone Café. Not only is this Paris café a wifi-free zone, but it also prohibits laptop usage on weekends. Note: Paris is a crowded city. You may have to work in your hotel room or apartment. Another option is to find a co-working space.
Hexagone Café is located at 121 Rue du Château, 75014 Paris, France.
At fringe, vintage camera gear peacefully coexists next to a shiny La Marzocco espresso machine while Danish textiles share shelves with books like Lindsey Tramuta’s informative The New Paris. Located in the northern side of the Marais since 2016, this Paris coffee shop has an American owner, Scandinavian vibes and sweet aromas drifting through its air.
Fringe quickly became a happy place for us in Paris. Not only is owner Jeff Hargrove a professional photographer and third wave coffee aficionado, but he also bakes delightfully addictive cookies – thick robust, earthy, chocolatey cylinders of yum.
During our first visit, we drank a flat white brewed with Kenyan beans from Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective and filtered coffee brewed with Ethiopian beans sourced from Frukt in Turku. Both coffees were text book but the cookie stole the show.
We later returned to fringe with our sister and niece in tow for an afternoon fika break and again the next day for an energy-boosting cappuccino. Proving that quality isn’t cheap, coffee prices skew a bit high at fringe compared to other Paris cafes.
Specialty coffee is relatively pricey all over Paris. In our experience, many of the better Paris coffee shops charge a little bit more.
Not in the mood for a cookie? Order a chocolate espresso brownie or cardamom bun instead. Fringe bakes these decadent desserts and more on-site.
fringe is located at 106 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, France.
Nicolas Clerc opened Télescope Café in the 1st arrondissement with former partner David Flynn (see above) in 2012. All these years later, Clerc is a specialty coffee veteran in Paris and his intimate Paris cafe is as popular as ever.
Small and simple, Télescope Café was tourist-free at the time of our visit. Clerc greeted us with a quiet warmth before getting to the serious business of crafting our cappuccino and matcha latte.
Using beans sourced from Hasbean in Dublin, Clerc quickly prepared our cappuccino. The matcha latte was a more complicated endeavor that involved him grinding green leaves into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle.
The end result was a liquid garden in a glass. Daryl exclaimed that he wanted to write a novel after just one sip. Alas, that didn’t happen. We proceeded to eat a mont-blanc at nearby Angelina instead.
With just eight colorful stools, Boot Café is probably the tiniest cafe in the Marais if not all of Paris. It’s also cosmopolitan with an American owner, Australian barista and beans from Norway.
Boot Café is smaller than our Lisbon bathroom. Granted, our bathroom is freakishly large.
Don’t let this cute cafe’s miniature size deter you from entering the former shoe repair shop. Instead, grab a shoe horn to squeeze yourself in and belly up to the bar. Your reward will be a selection of seriously good specialty coffee drinks served with sweet treats and pleasant conversation
We felt surprisingly comfortable perched on top of yellow and green plastic stools while sipping cappuccinos crafted with Colombian beans from Oslo’s Fuglen Coffee Roasters. When it comes to Paris specialty coffee shops, apparently taste trumps size.
Join the queue even if all of Boots Café’s colorful stools are occupied. The coffee tastes just as good in takeaway cups.
Boot Café is located at 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003 Paris, France.
Open in Canal Saint-Martin since 2012, Ten Belles immediately achieved coffee credibility thanks to co-owner Thomas Lehoux’s award-winning barista skills. Two more locations have followed including a large bakery near the Bastille.
Using beans from Belleville Brûlerie, also co-owned by Lehoux, baristas prepare espressos, cappuccinos, noisettes, cortados and filtered coffee. Non-coffee drinkers can choose from a variety of caffeine-free drinks including hot chocolate and cold lemonade.
Buy a Ten Belles ‘KeepCup’ if you plan to be a repeat visitor. You’ll save 20 cents on each future drink purchase.
The original Ten Belles is located at 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 Paris, France.
We’d been wanting to visit Coutume since we enjoyed excellent coffee and cake at the Coutume cafe in Osaka. Sadly, that Japanese location has closed. However, Coutume is going strong in France with six Paris cafes, one cafe in Geneva and a roastery.
Antoine Nétien and Tom Clark opened the original Coutume cafe on Rue de Babylone in the 7th arrondissement in 2011. Today, dedicated staff provides table service while preparing specialty coffee using V60, Chemex and Aeropress extractors as well as a Synesso Syncra espresso machine.
Coutume offers a coffee menu with a range of drinks including espressos, double espressos, cappuccinos, batch brew coffee, filter coffee, lattes, cortados, flat whites, cold brew and a coffee flight. Priced at €9.50 at the time of our visit, the flight features a single origin coffee prepared three different ways – espresso, cappuccino and filter.
Food options include desserts like Japanese cheesecake and financiers and a selection of savory items. We opted for two of the latter – Blanquette de Veau and Salted Pancakes. Next time we’ll try to save room for dessert.
Splurge on a bag of freshly roastd Pink Bourbon – El Chaferote beans from Colombia if your budget can handle a €30 hit. Otherwise, buy a less expensive bag of Coutume beans sourced from farmers in Burundi, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia or Mexico instead.
Coutume Café has multiple locations. We visited the original cafe located at 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris, France.
For computer techies, i/o is the input/output communication between a computer and another party. In Paris, i/o has a second connotation – specialty coffee.
Open in the 3rd arrondissement since January of 2020, i/o cafe serves flat whites in artisan mugs and tea in carafes. The mugs were so pretty that we almost bought two but abstained due to each mug’s €30 price tag. Don’t judge – we spent a lot of money on food and drinks in Paris instead.
We drank flat whites brewed with Denmark’s La Cabra beans from i/o’s one-page menu during our pre-pandemic visit. The menu also featured espressos, double espressos, black coffee, cortados, cappuccinos and filtered coffee as well as Kodama teas, hot chocolate, chai lattes, matcha lattes, orange juice and lemonade.
This cafe doesn’t have a bathroom. Consider yourself warned.
i/o café is located at 16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003 Paris, France.
KB Coffee Roasters
Originally called Kooka Boora (named after an Australian bird) when it opened in 2010, this Parisian coffee operation has since shortened its name to KB, opened a second cafe called Back in Black and started roasting its own beans.
The original KB Coffee Cafeshop is still located in a Pigalle corner building with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sprawling terrace. More importantly, the cafe’s baristas continue to serve serious coffee in a friendly environment.
Drink choices included cappuccinos and lattes as well as hot chocolate and tea during our late spring visit. A young crowd filled the tony cafe and spilled onto the sidewalk terrace, many looking at laptops and smart phones as they gulped down their cups of liquid elixir.
We were happy to join the crowd. After finding two seats at the cafe’s long indoor table, we savored every sip of our creamy cappuccinos as we planned the rest of our day in Paris.
Stop by KB Coffee Cafeshop before you visit Montmartre. You’ll appreciate the caffeine jolt as you climb the steep hill toward Sacre Coeur.
KB Coffee Roasters is located at 53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris, France.
We often choose apartments based on their proximity to specialty coffee cafes, which is how we ended up spending a week in Paris’ Oberkampf neighborhood. We rightfully suspected that we’d love the neighborhood based on nearby cafes like Café Oberkampf.
The daytime menu features granola, tartines, sandwiches and soup. More importantly (at least to us), this darling Paris cafe serves coffee from a rotating array of guest roasters plus tea from Kodama.
Choosing from 15 different hot drinks on offer could be an issue for some. As for us, choosing a flat white was a no brainer since we appreciate an extra shot in the morning.
Café Oberkampf’s weekday lunch special includes a small soup as well as a sandwich or tartine. The combo was priced at €12 at the time of our visit.
Café Oberkampf is located at 3 Rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 Paris, France.
It’s no coincidence that the menus at Café Oberkampf and Café Méricourt look familiar. Not only are the two neighborhood cafes located just three blocks apart, but they also have the same owner and similar coffee programs.
Beyond its bigger space, Café Méricourt differentiates itself with a few bonuses on its brunch menu. Notable dishes include shakshuka and green eggs with feta.
Ramp up your brunch with wine, cider or craft beer. Better yet, ramp it all the way up with a bloody méricourt or sunny spritz.
Café Méricourt is located at 22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 Paris, France.
République of Coffee
We visited République of Coffee for two reasons – the cafe’s central location and its fun coffee menu. Remembering the charcoal latte we had enjoyed in Lyon, we couldn’t resist ordering the same drink upon entering the striking Paris cafe.
Made with vegetal charcoal, vanilla syrup and milk, this charcoal latte was sweet. Very sweet. Too sweet. Sadly, the drink didn’t live up to our memories.
However, we recommend République of Coffee for its prime location just steps from Place de la République. You’ll eventually need a break when you’re touring Paris and this is a convenient spot to rest your weary feet.
Don’t pull out your laptop during the weekend or during lunchtime during the week. That being said, there’s no rule against surfing on your phone.
République of Coffee is located at 2 Boulevard Saint-Martin, 75010 Paris, France.
Additional Paris Coffee Shops
But wait, there’s more! Consider the following Paris cafes when you crave a flat white or cappuccino in the city of light:
Plan Your Paris Trip
Cafes may have revised their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Some may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check cafe websites for updated information.
Pin It for Later
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.