Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate
** = Must-tries
**Kooka Boora (9th) I spent a lot of time here–I came almost every day and wrote 60,000 words of my (still unfinished) book here–so I feel qualified to tell you that Kooka Boora kicks ass. Suffice it to say, this cute Aussie/Kiwi joint in SoPi is one of my favorite spots in Paris. They serve delicious cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites, and the sandwich/snack-fare food is also really good; get there early for one of their homemade sandwiches. They also bake cookies right there in the cafe throughout the day which makes the whole place smell heavenly. Snickerdoodles are good, but my favorite is their chocolate chip.
If you want a place to do work, enjoy free WiFi, and hang out in for hours where no one cares or asks you to leave (though you do need to buy something) this is your spot, though it can get crowded and tight in there, so be ready to jockey for position when better seats than the one you’re in become available. Bring headphones if you want to silence the great music they’re always playing–I Shazam-ed a ton of songs here when I took breaks from writing and eating those fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Also, the whole staff here is super-friendly: when they found out I was from San Francisco one day, a lovely girl named Natalie blasted Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” to the entire cafe as she (okay, me too) sang along at the top of her (our) lungs. Love her, love this place. Sitting along the bar at the window, staring out at Parisian life passing me by on any given day, and getting coffee from friendly expats and Frenchies is one of my absolute favorite things to do and one of my favorite memories of living in Paris. (No WiFi on weekends.)
**Telescope (1st) – My other favorite coffee place in Paris, and my other favorite “office,” though there’s no free WiFi here. (Also, they don’t like people using computers on the weekends when they’re busier, so factor that in if you’re looking for a place to work on a random Saturday.) Serious barista-ing and know-how go on at this place – the coffee is delicious and their baked goods are always good. (Fig tarte – I miss you so much!) Also, they have a real eye for design – the space is aesthetically lovely and just generally a nice place to relax and have a good coffee. Oh, the two owners are also really nice guys. (No WiFi)
When I moved to Paris in 2012, the Parisian coffee revolution was just beginning. (See above: Telescope, Kooka Boora, and Coutume, below.) Now, (in 2015 as I write this), it’s in full swing. I’m telling you this because good coffee can be had in Paris; it’s not hard to find anymore if you know where to look. So now that you have choices, choosing the good coffee in Paris comes down to–in my opinion– the ambiance of a place and the friendliness of the people who work there, and maybe some yummy baked goods or snacks. (And the music, obviously, but all the coffee places on this list have well-curated playlists.)
Enter Boot Cafe, in the 3rd, a teeny-tiny little place that packs a lot of personality (both decor-wise and people-wise) into its itty-bitty space. Oh, and serves delicious coffee, too. I had a great chat with a barista from Tokyo named Yuu. (Hi, Yuu!) Basically, I fell in love with yet another coffee place in Paris. Go here, then walk around the corner and check out all the expensive goodies at Merci that no one but trustfunders can buy. (Only downer: NO WIFI.)
Cute place, good coffee, WIFI (!). In a coffee pinch in the 3rd, I’d still choose Boot Cafe, but if you want more space, or a full meal, this is a good bet. (WiFi, weekdays and weekends)
The coffee is good, the place is cute. But it was kind of like going on a date with a hot guy where there’s no chemistry but there should be, because–come on, he’s the hot guy! The people who worked there were very … professional. I’m not sure if that’s the right word yet, but that’s where I am right now: professional. Which is kinda weird for a coffee place, right? But it’s in the 10th right by Canal Saint-Martin, so it’s definitely worth a visit. (No WiFi)
Coutume Cafe (7th) – It’s hard to beat the first two, but I like
Coutume, though they serve actual meals – not just snacks – so go before 11 or after 2. (WiFi)
**Mariage Frères (multiple locations, but I like the 6th). I didn’t even know I liked tea until I came here, but now I’m addicted. Mariage offers literally hundreds of tempting teas, so it can be a little overwhelming, but the people who work here are so incredibly nice, they’ll let you smell every single one and give you the background on any tea you ask about. The basic starter tea (which makes it sound common and uninteresting, but it’s not) is Paris Breakfast, a delicious black tea with citrus and vanilla notes. I bought that plus two others; my friend bought four or five. Just telling you that so you can have your credit card at the ready. You’re gonna want some.
The only bummer is that they don’t sell tea by the cup, you have to go upstairs and buy something to eat, and even then you can only get whole pots, not cups. Still, it’s a good excuse to slow down and relax, as the Parisians know how to do so well.
One crisp and rainy Fall day, I shared two pots of tea and snacks with a friend visiting from New York as we cozied up inside and watched the rain drizzle over the streets of Saint-Germain. That was one of my favorite days in Paris, just sitting there chatting over yummy tea with a dear friend. I hope you have the chance to enjoy a pot of tea with someone special here, too.
Angelina (1st): Angelina is famous for its chocolat chaud, which means you’ll always find a line and a gaggle of tourists when you go here. It’s delicious, but like a lot of Parisian hot chocolate, it’s really thick and uber rich – like a melted bar of chocolate poured into your cup – which isn’t personally how I like to drink mine. I prefer a less-thick consistency, which is why I like Jean-Paul Hévin’s better. That said, Angelina is really good, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a thick, delicious, and rich-chocolatey drink, so give it a try if you like yours a little thicker.