Imagine walking into your high school’s science room (no matter how long ago that actually was). You notice the beakers, test tubes, and the periodic table while you take a seat at your assigned lab station. (You remember, don’t you!) You feel a tap on your shoulder and the cute guy/girl from your science class serves you a cup of coffee.
Don’t tell me that you’ve never had a little crush on someone in one of your high school science classes. There’s always one! For me, it was my lab partner, Ben. He had the intelligence of a panda, but gosh was he cute.
But the purpose of this article isn’t to talk about long lost one-sided romances. Instead, I’m experimenting with a new style of blog: a café review. And what better place to start than with one of the first cafés to experiment with the 3rd wave café experience (more on this later) in Paris?
[47 rue de Babylone 75007 (Paris, France: 7th district)]
Coutume is the brainchild of world-renowned coffee scientists: Antoine Nétien and Tom Clark. Since the significant result of their first venture, Coutume has become a global enterprise with 6 locations in Paris (Babylone, Instituutti & Les Ateliers), Tokyo (Aoyama & Futakotamagawa), and Osaka. [Oooh my beloved, Japan ❤ Shh… be still my heart.]
The enchanting thing about café owners is they have a marvelously sarcastic sense of humor. For example, coutume means custom or tradition in French. Yet, instead of filling the café with the decor expected of such a name: antiques and vintage relics, it’s designed to emulate a lab of modern science; complete with water served in chemistry flasks, menu items depicted with elemental diagrams, and long stainless steel workstations. An ironic and witty idea to say the least.
Quality of Service:
When I arrived at Coutume, I was greeted by a barista with a smile that could launch a thousand ships. Parisian servers rarely smile; so this was a pleasant surprise. The barista showed me where I can sit, gave me the menu and some water right away, and patiently waited for my order. And then, something wonderful happened: she didn’t ask “Is that all?” after I said my order. [I secretly hate when servers do this, as if 1) I’m a total idiot who in the last second somehow forgot what I wanted to consume or 2) They’re product pushing. If I want to eat the muffin, I will order the damn muffin. End rant.] To add to the barista’s already amiable first-impressions, she was fluent in French and English. In fact, all of the staff were; important for the survival of a café in the heart of the embassy district and a stone throw away from La Tour Eiffel.
Quality of Product:
I ordered a cappuccino, which was 4.20 euro (~550 yen /6 dollars). Their current seasonal blend is the single-origin FAF Blend (Brésil). It’s wonderfully balanced (evidence: there wasn’t a need to add sugar to my cappuccino) with hints of chocolate, and syncs nicely with steamed milk. Yet, this isn’t your typical one-note brew because it ends with a shock of acidity. An unexpected delight! Cheers to its creators who evidently have scientific precision.
Quality of Atmosphere:
Typical crowd of young locals, expats, and tourists linger about. Those working solo can type away undisturbed on their laptops either at the counter or at one of the metal workstations, and those accompanied by friends can sit across from each other at one of the 2(or)4-person tables or the long wooden benches. Music was a mix of classic English and French rock.
Overall, an enjoyable experience at Coutume was had. I spent an hour writing postcards, listening to the locals banter en français, and savoring my coffee, and yet, I didn’t feel rushed or like I was taking up space. I’d come back again, especially to try their tempting Sunday brunch menu.