Hope you enjoy the second of three guest posts & photos by Alden Gewirtz below, highlighting another must-visit Parisian cafe!
Nestled in the hip, boutique-filled neighborhood around the Canal Saint-Martin, Ten Belles (10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 Paris, France) makes you feel as if you’ve stepped off the rue and into a coffee house in Brooklyn. Open since 2012, among the newer wave of coffee places in the city, and serving Belleville Brûlerie roasted coffee (started by one of Ten Belle’s owners, Thomas Lehoux, who FRSHGRND introduced in a past Paris trip) it hit all the right marks.
With simple white walls, a blackboard posting the latest drink offerings, a tip jar, and cookies and scones visible on the counter, it felt familiar to me, and I worried it might be a bit of an American-style gimmick. When I did my best to order my coffee in French at the counter, the cheery barista politely corrected my poor French, in the most perfect American accent, and explained that she was from New Jersey.
They served the usual mix of standard coffee-culture offerings (espresso, cappuccino, filtered, etc.), along with some more typical French options (café allongé and café noisette), and the food list went beyond treats to include salads, sandwiches and other savories cooked in the small kitchen below the mezzanine seating. After looking over all the offerings, I settled for a Chemex dripped coffee of Kenyan beans (specifically Kaiguri AA), and a chocolate chip cookie. A bearded barista, this one French, methodically prepared the 6-cup Chemex, slowly, carefully, at the counter, and then presented the decanter along with two glasses, one of which I shared with the ex-pat New Yorker grad student in the table next to us. Seeing the small amount of coffee bean oil floating on the surface of the glass (which I wouldn’t have noticed if it was served in an opaque mug or cup), I knew this would taste good. It did — it was light, crisp, with some complexity, and not at all bitter. The glass cooled off the original temperature, allowing me to enjoy it all the more so, and visually, seemed to compliment the glass of the Chemex. Our NJ barista explained that I was in luck that day, because the Kenyan was only offered for a short while, and was a good choice for the Chemex pour-over.
Next, I tried their espresso, a house blend of Indonesian and Brazilian coffee beans, again from Belleville. The color of the crema was a wonderful light brown, and the taste was balanced and clean with only a hint of bitterness at the end of the sip. It was perfectly enjoyable and turned out to be another good choice.
With the tasting done, I got a better look at the place and took in the pace some more. Coffee brewing supplies for the home were piled up high above the counter (including aeropress, Chemex, Bona Vita, and Clever drip cones), along with Ten Belles branded mugs and thermoses, and plenty of bagged Belleville coffee. The ground floor seating was narrow, about six tables with small, low, simply styled wooden collapsible stools, and there was another 3 or 4 tables above in the mezzanine. Mounted high on the wall was a neon sign of a coffee mug, an imitation of the espresso cup that I drank from. Besides my family, the American grad student next to us, and a family from Vancouver that passed though, there were plenty of actual locals chatting away, and others lining up for coffee takeaway.
I got lucky – when there was still some coffee left in the Chemex, and we were ready to go, the Jersey barista offered me the spoils in a hot-sleeve cup embossed with an anchor logo. If the place wasn’t near the Canal Saint-Martin, I’d say it was just the latest graphic design fad, but having the canal right there was a reminder of the barges that used the nearby canal (now frequented by tourist boats), and it didn’t feel like that much of a stretch. If I ever relocated in Paris, and settled in this most Brooklyn-ish of neighborhoods, this would be my local coffee place, for sure. It felt casual, local, and comfortable. And the coffee was among the best I had in the Paris on this recent trip.
Alden Gewirtz is a photo editor based in NYC, where he has worked at Frommer’s travel guides, Zagat, and other magazines and stock photo agencies. While he enjoys coffee, espresso, and lattes at his local coffee shop in Greenwich Village, at home he kicks it old school, preferring Guatemalan beans freshly ground in a French press.
Map & Address:
10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles
75010 Paris, France
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