There’s a cafe on every corner in Paris and it’s easy to spot tourists. They’re the ones, quelle horreur, sitting down enjoying their cup rather than propping up the bar like a local. And, gasp, they’re taking milk in their coffee beyond 10.30am. The coffee entrepreneur has become one of Australia’s great gastronomic exports.  They’ve popped up everywhere from New York to Stockholm. Here in Paris it was only a matter of time before another Australian (with a French business partner in this case) created a cool place for the terminally uncool – well, in terms of their coffee habits that is.

Coutume is on the Rue de Babylone in Paris’ seventh arrondissement. It’s an upmarket neighbourhood, not all that far from the stunning gold-domed Invalides and the upscale shopping on the left bank. More than a cafe, it has a side business of supplying roasted beans to a number of other Paris cafes and restaurants.

But its true joy is being able to sit, surf the web (when the wi-fi is working – it can be a tad temperamental) and savour a stunning coffee that is full of flavour – and milk, if such is your desire. Cafe creme, given it’s traditionally consumed only for breakfast, is a weak animal. Asking for a strong version in most establishments is a risky business; the result is often watery, bitter or both. Trying to communicate how you like your coffee when it deviates from the norm is often lost in translation but here you can chat to the barista and they just get what you’re about.

Coutume redefining Paris coffee

Paris on a plate

Not surprisingly, every expat in Paris seems to have beaten a path to Coutume’s door since it opened in 2011. The tables are all individual but pushed together to form long communal benchtops and maximise the number of available seats. Particularly of a weekend, it gets packed early and the air is full of variously accented English and French – the locals seem to like it too!

Coutume redefining Paris coffee

An Aussie touch – banana bread

Coutume is open every day – something not to be sneezed at in Paris where Sunday is often observed as a day of rest. During the week it’s buzzing from 8am, on the weekends though, it doesn’t get going until 10am – perfect for a leisurely brunch. Given the enormous quantities of food Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband have consumed on this trip to Paris, we decided to forgo the offer of bacon and eggs or, indeed, the ‘detox veggie’ plate. We opted for a couple of tiny snacks, reflecting the Franco-Australian partnership – a croissant (naturally) and a slice of banana bread. The croissant was buttery perfection, as you’d expect, and the banana bread was a sweet, slightly spicy slice of delight.

But of course, the hero here is the coffee. It’s rich, strong and prepared with undoubted skill. You can stand and chat to the barista and knowledgeable staff about the provenance of the beans but only when they’re not being run off their feet – and that’s a rare luxury.

Coutume redefining Paris coffee

One good lookin’ coffee

While Time Out in Paris had reported a second Coutume was due to open this year, the team says they’re now looking at moving their coffee roaster out into the Paris suburbs to make more room in the cafe. Apparently the challenges they’ve faced in finding an optimal space for a second cafe has put the expansion plans on hold for the time being.

But if you’re on the left bank – or anywhere in Paris and desperate for a decent coffee fix, Coutume should be on your radar. It’s just that good.


47 Rue de Babylone, Paris

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