When asked, almost everyone will tell you they started drinking coffee in college. It’s a staple, no matter what country you’re in coffee is always there. I’m talking about coffee shops and no, Starbucks doesn’t count, even if they’re taking over the world.
Coffee shops are all relatively the same, each with their own unique flair but they all serve the same thing. However, when you hop across the pond into a different country, there’s not only a change in culture but a change in Coffee Culture.
Coffee shops are everywhere in Paris. Not only can you buy “un café” (espresso shot) at any restaurant but there are more and more specialty coffee shops showing up all over the city. Coffee culture in Paris, however, is very different than it is in the U.S. This is something that is important to understand if coffee is essential to your day to day life. Coffee shops in Paris are used for an hour to two hours as “un pause” in your day to see friends. They are not used as a place to sit for 4+ hours on your computer working. They actually have places called “Anti-Cafes” in the city where you go to spend hours working.
With that said you can stay as long as you would like as long as you’re buying food and drinks. No store is going to kick you out when you’re buying their products. This little insight is solely here to help you avoid the possible glares and annoyed sighs that might come with you staying for longer than is considered “acceptable”.
I learned about this “Coffee Culture” thanks to a lovely shop called Loustic. I am not coffee expert. I am the “never turn down a cup, and even use it as an excuse to procrastinate” type, for that reason, coffee shops sit nicely on the list of my favorite places to hang out (don’t act like you don’t love them too).
I was introduced to Loustic sometime during the first month abroad thanks to my exchange partner (a french student looking to improve their English while helping french learners improve their French). The first time we met up was in this shop just outside my favorite arrondissement.
Already nervous about meeting a stranger for the first time, I looked at the front of this cafe and almost turned around and left. Tucked away on a side street with a storefront made of cardboard, my first instinct was to run. Thankfully, I shook out the nerves and walked in.
The entire atmosphere changed. When you first walk in you are instantly hit with the smell of coffee (welcoming sense #1), to your left baristas work away on orders and to your right customers sit on pastel colored, cushioned benches with tables that swivel to accommodate you (welcoming sense #2).
After browsing the menu for a second you go to the end of the bar and place your order. Fun fact: They speak English so if you don’t speak French you’re in the clear. Then you chose a place to set up camp (I use this word loosely, note the coffee culture), either along the wall or towards the back room where they have more seating options. It is a small space, you and the stranger next to you can easily become friends by the end of the visit.
They offer a lot of different choices both to drink and eat but as you can see from the picture above, I always go for the café or if I want something a little larger, the café au lait (basically a latte) and a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. They also offer a good selection of other sweeter treats like banana bread or muffins depending on the day.
If you find yourself in Paris, I recommend taking your next little pause and stopping by. Sit and talk to friends while enjoying their great music playlists, maybe read a book or if you dare, ignore the glares get some work done (just keep buying the coffee). It’s a good place to be regardless.
Also, check out their Instagram for any special events they have going on, or just to obsess over coffee art!