Tastemakers: The Men Behind the New Paris Coffee Culture

I
n a city that’s known for having a sidewalk café on nearly every corner, you would think that this place had mastered the art of making coffee by now. But, an espresso machine does not a barista make. And even to call this new generation of coffee makers in Paris ‘baristas’ is an understatement. Coffee artists, gurus, revolutionaries might be more correct.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

To put an end to the atrocious ‘sock juice’ being brewed throughout Paris is a group of men coming from all walks of life, all corners of the world, with one common thread- a passion for coffee. Their goal isn’t just to be able to call themselves cool, bike-riding, skinny-jean-wearing, tattoo-bearing baristas. They’re a real group of men, who have devoted their lives to learning the trade, the art, of making (good) coffee.

Head into the newest Parisian café to join the coffee revolution in Paris, Télescope Café, and you’ll start to understand. With its minimalistic décor, a menu consisting solely of various basic forms of espresso and filtered coffee, the men behind Télescope have one goal- to bring good coffee to the people. You won’t find any vanilla chai, skim milk, or fancy raw juices here; just good beans, freshly ground and roasted, brewed in the finest machines, and filtered to an exact science.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

The way Nicolas Clerc, co-owner of Télescope, explained it to me is this- at any one of the corner cafés in Paris you might get an espresso that costs €2 ($3.50) that was made from beans that had been sitting in the grinder for months, or from grinds that hadn’t been rinsed from the last espresso. Theses cafés goals are to pound out as many little cups of espresso as possible to make a profit.

If you come to Télescope on a lucky day, you may even get to witness a coffee cupping, or tasting, between owners David Flynn and Nicolas Clerc. And, if it isn’t too busy, these two might even give you a crash course in tasting coffee. They’ll tell you the qualities to look for, and eloquently explain the way the flavors evolve in a filtered coffee over time. No sidewalk café could do that for you.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

At Télescope, and other cafés around Paris, like Coutume Café, Le BAL, and Kooka Boora, you’ll get a freshly roasted, ground, and brewed cup of coffee every time. In fact, the guy who made your coffee could probably even tell you exactly from where and when your beans came to them.

Nicolas Clerc, or ‘Nico’ to the coffee gang, got his start in photography- not coffee. And when I say photography, I’m talking photography. After taking pictures for the likes of Chanel, Balmain, Hermès, and more, Nicolas decided he wanted to move onto something new. After touring the US, tasting coffee from some of the best baristas in the world, he then studied the bean and the craft, and put the plans in place to open his own café in Paris. In his signature denim shirt and glasses, Nicolas holds down the fort at Télescope six days per week- except for when he’s over at Coutume Café roasting beans or tasting a new brew.

David Flynn, an ex-pat who took the American coffee scene by storm during his time at the now-closed Murky Coffee in D.C., moved to Paris and worked at Le BAL Café in the 18th arrondissement, the place credited for having started the revolution in Paris. All the while, David worked on planning to open his own café and founded the “Frog Fight” throw downs with fellow Paris coffee guru, Thomas Lehoux.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Thomas was originally from the Paris cocktail crew- mixologists, if you will. But, after hanging out in cafés during his time living in Australia, Thomas became enthralled with the café culture, and decided to master another beverage- coffee. Today, he’s training for the Brewer’s Cup, happening this weekend in Paris, sponsored by the Frog Fight group, Fricote Magazine, Télescope, and others. The winner of this weekend’s Brewer’s Cup will be crowned French “Brewmaster” and will go on to compete in Vienna in June for the European title.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

(Spoiler Alert- look out for Thomas’ own café opening sometime this year on the legendary Canal St. Martin)

Today, Nicolas, David, and Thomas are three of the most recognizable, and influential men in the new Paris coffee culture.

[Photos © Lindsey Tramuta ]

Télescope Cafe

5 rue Villedo 75001

Paris, France

mon.-fri. 8h30 – 18h30

sat. 9h30 – 18h30