If, left to my own devices, I feel fairly confident that I would be able to drink a staggering amount of coffee on a daily basis. I would drink it in a variety preparations — cappuccini, filter coffee and good ol’espresso to name a few — and from a variety of roasters. There would be no reason to get bored. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your point of view — we live in a society and I limit my caffeine consumption to make myself a touch less insane.
On the rare occasions I do drink more than one cup of coffee a day, it’s for a good reason. Being tired doesn’t pass muster. Being in a new city with a limited number of days and staggering number of good cafes, however, does. It’s my favorite kind of problem.
It was for this reason when I was in Paris last month, I decided to indulge in two coffees in one day, drunk precariously close to one another. After an awesome breakfast from Veronique Mauclerc and a brisk walk through Parc Buttes Chaumont, I felt the need to warm up with a noisette. I had originally planned to visit Tuck Shop after reading David Lebvoitz’s glowing recommendation, but it wasn’t open when I arrived. To pass the time, I went to nearby Cafe Craft.
Cafe Craft is more than just a coffee shop. There’s a regular café space in the front in which anyone can stop by and get something to drink and a bite to eat (the food looked really fantastic). In the back, there’s an area for which you can pay a subscription to use as an office. Apparently this subscription also allows you unlimited refills. While I don’t know how I feel about this unlimited refill idea, the idea of having a café to work in and never having to worry about a seat sounds pretty genius to me. Can we bring this to Italy now?
I walked in, sat down at one of the communal tables in the front and ordered a noisette. The modern décor looked more like a café you’d find in London than New York, but still had a pervasive essence of Parisian chic. No matter how much I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoyed the coffee more.
While the term noisette usually applies only to the color of the coffee, it was an apt description for the taste as well. The drink was overwhelmingly smooth and easy to sip with a nutty, roasty quality that struck a pleasant in between of a light/fruity and dark/chocolatey. I generally enjoy a little bit of acidity in my coffee, but I didn’t miss its absence here.
The only thing I wasn’t a fan of? The music taste was a bit odd, alternating between French hits of yester-year and Christian rock.
If Café Craft is the essence of third-wave Parisian cool, then Tuck Shop is the quaint sister and nearly polar opposite. Just a three minute walk away, Tuck Shop is an homage to the homier style of café you find much more commonly in England and, I’m assuming, Australia (the café is owned by a couple of aussies). I arrived just ten minutes after they opened and it was a good thing. Had I arrived five minutes later, I would have difficulty getting a seat as it quickly became crowded.
Perhaps due to the anitpodean ownership, there was no noisette on the menu. I contented myself with a macchiato. The macchiato was, like the café, pretty much the polar opposite of what I drank at Craft. My first though after taking a sip was, hello there acidity. It wasn’t so much bad as it was a bit surprising after my last experience. Unlike some coffees that drift into an unpleasant lemon/lime acidity, this had a pleasant berry-like sweet-sour flavor that made it drinkable, but also meant you didn’t want to gulp it. I would most certainly return to Tuck Shop to try some food, but I’d opt for a cappuccino next time.
Going to all of these cafes in Paris really reminded me what an exciting world coffee is. The beverage unites people all over the world, searching for taste, searching for excellence and searching for a new way of doing things. Needless to say, after drinking coffee at Café Craft and Tuck Shop, I was very excited to get thinking about coffee. Then again, that could have just been my two cups of coffee. As you know, I’m not quite used to that.
Coffee drinkers, how much coffee would you drink on an average day?