Though it’s only a couple of blocks from the much-lauded Grande Epicerie, Coutume‘s location on a nondescript portion of the rue de Babylone makes it feel further off the beaten path than it actually is. Combine that with the mostly Anglophone staff and the artfully unfinished, postmodern-meets-neoclassical décor, and you’ve got a Parisian coffee shop that would be equally at home in New York or London, if not more so.
I, for one, am glad that it’s here in Paris. It’s pretty well documented that I am a tea-drinker, and the selection of organic teas here make me very happy. They also take great care, serving each tea in its own individual teapot, with instructions about how long to let it steep for optimum flavor. But I can appreciate a well-made cup of coffee, too, and Coutume has those in spades.
It’s actually something of a coffee-geek’s paradise, with single-origin beans roasted to perfection on the premises, and your choice of any brewing method from espresso to 24-hour cold infusion. The most entertaining by far is the one brewed on these steampunk-y contraptions:
I watched the little one on the right with fascination as it boiled water, forcing it up into the beaker on top, at which point the barista poured in freshly ground coffee. The coffee then slowly drips back down through a filter. Nick pointed out that this method actually ends up brewing the coffee with just-below-boiling-temperature water, the better to extract the delicate aromas without overcooking the coffee. Sounds good to me.
Coutume serves food, too. The breakfast formule, with three mini-viennoiseries (croissant, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins), hot beverage of your choice (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate), and a glass of freshly-squeezed juice (orange or grapefruit) is a decent buy, especially for this neighborhood, coming in under eight euros. They also have a more elaborate brunch menu, with eggs, bacon, and the like, and they serve organic sandwiches and salads for lunch. For dessert, you can choose between pastries from La Pâtisserie des Rêves or ice cream from the Raimo cart in front. (I haven’t been back since they re-opened for the rentrée, so I don’t know if this is a year-round thing or a special treat for the summer months.)
A place that takes coffee seriously is still a rarity in Paris, so I feel lucky that Coutume is only a short metro ride away from my apartment. And we should all be glad that it’s open seven days a week, because what is Sunday without a leisurely cup of delicious coffee?
On this day in 2010: Like Flies to Honey?
Originally published on Croque-Camille.