When I first moved to Paris last April, my friend Meg from parisbymouth.com suggested we meet up at her new favorite café in the 7th arrondissement, Coutume Café. They allegedly had the greatest coffee and espresso known to man, and ever-skeptical of superlatives, I thought to myself, “Oh, I’m sure it’ll at least be passable.” You see, I had no way to anticipate what I was about to experience: a professional baristo working with some of the world’s finest beans, expertly roasted in-house by an acclaimed perfectionist torréfacteur – both there for the sole purpose of culling pure excellence out of one of the most luxe and technologically advanced espresso machines ever conceived, together with a series of other coffee extraction methods on the bleeding edge of haute café. I would make the 2 mile roundtrip walk to Coutume every morning for the next 6 months. I also learned never to question Meg’s highly refined tastes.
Ever the addict, I always made sure to arrive at Coutume within minutes of it opening (shot above). Not only did I need my caffeine fix, but knowing how popular the café was becoming, I never wanted to risk having to wait in line, while being taunted by the aroma of a fine Vanuatu or Costa Rican brew. Especially on weekends, when virtually every table in the house would be taken for brunch, timing was critical. I also had a favorite preparation, which they kept in limited supply; I couldn’t live knowing it had been sold out minutes earlier. What was that special something? Behold…
It goes by many names – cold extraction / “extraction froid”, Kyoto style, cold drip, slow drip, 24-hour drip. No matter what you call it, it’s a 3 litre bulb of water that releases one single cold drop of water, every few seconds – for the better part of an entire day – into two 200g columns of coarsely ground beans. The resultant coffee is not only the most incredibly flavored and nuanced you are ever to experience, but the caffeine content will absolutely blow your ************* mind. Should you be lucky enough to arrive on a day when they’ve prepared a cold extraction with Ethiopian Nekisse beans, your life will be forever changed. A longtime lover of coffee in all its forms, and no stranger to some of the most renowned pulls/brews/drips in the world, I have never before or since had a cup of coffee that even approaches it.
One could argue the siphon above is an even more dramatic spectacle. In fact, it’s so fun that, together with the Kyoto drip, I plan to give these apparati a future entry all their own. And I might just have to do another post all about Coutume’s La Marzocco Strada below. One of only 125 in the world, it’s an espresso machine so sophisticated that you can connect your computer to it and program variable pressure profiles for the pull of each espresso, by grind, by bean, and by every other factor imaginable.
Kevin is truly one with the Strada. It’s his baby, and access to it is explicitly the reason he moved to Paris. Co-owners Antoine and Tom searched far and wide for the ultimate baristo, discovering Kevin in Iowa. After rounds of interviews, they felt sure they’d found the right guy . . . but they could only have him if the Strada was part of the package. Here he is letting off a little steam . . .
When you order your espresso, be sure to know the preparation you’d like, because they will ask, “Would you like a French EXpresso or an Italian ESpresso.” If I didn’t go for my cold drip, I’d almost always get a quad Italian. Single, double, triple, quad and beyond, I’m 99.9% sure it will be light years ahead of anything you’ve ever had.
Now, most cafés wouldn’t be so concerned with making sure the to-go cup was finished with latté art. Coutume’s a little different that way. There’s excellence at every turn . . .
As mentioned earlier, they have an awesome Saturday and Sunday brunch that starts at 11. I always opted for a simple scrambled eggs with home fries, but there’s a full menu with tons of other options, to appease your international brunch sensibilities.
Should you find yourself in need of either Tahitian or Madagascan vanilla pods, Coutume can help you out. They have two large jars perched above the pastry case, which not only contains delicious pastries from La Pâtisserie des Rêves but from their own in-house team. How can you not love that?
Don’t you just want to step inside right now? . . .
Being back in the States, I miss it so much. I’m even having them send me a staff t-shirt so that I can wear their name with pride, whilst I approximate their majesty with my newly-arrived Kyoto style drip tower.
If you’re already in Paris, I suggest you head to Coutume as soon as possible. If you’re a coffee lover soon to be in the City of Lights, it should go with out saying that this is a requisite stop. And for all of you, keep an eye out for my next entry on Coutume, where we’ll see exactly how the beans are roasted by Meilleur Torréfacteur de France 2011, Antoine Netien. That’s right, Antoine was just named the greatest roaster in France, and the behind-the-scenes photos are going to blow your mind.
47 Rue de Babylone
Facebook Page: Coutume Café