‘Why do the French make such horrible coffee?’ I used to think when I lived in Paris in 1996. If I’d bothered researching the question I’d quickly have found the answer – bad coffee was French government policy. The French government pushed the cheaper, lower quality Robusta coffee beans, rather than the more expensive, higher quality Arabica coffee, because Robusta was what grew in French colonies. Since Robusta was best for making those tiny cups of bitter sump-oil-black espresso, which is what the French think of as coffee, that’s what they learned to like. And that’s the only coffee French bar staff learned how to make.
Now Arabica coffee is making inroads into France and – quite apart from the 50 or so Starbucks in Paris – other coffee bars are popping up. The Melbourne newspaper The Age ran an article on where to get a good cup of coffee. Try Le Bal Café (6 Impasse de la Defense, 18eme), La Cafeotheque (52 Rue de l’Hotel de Ville, 4eme), Coutume Café (47 Rue de Babylone, 7eme), Kooka Boora (62 Rue des Martyrs, 9eme), Cafe Lomi (9 Rue de Saussure, 17eme) or Merce & the Muse (1 Rue Dupuis, 3eme).
? Coffee’s an international drink, I’ll find it in Papua New Guinea, where I’m going soon, and just before Christmas I had a coffee in that one off coffee shop Stars & Bucks in Palestine.