We must have visited at least ten cafés in Paris (not traditional French cafés serving cups of dark roast but artisanal cafés serving specialty coffee) in the span of a few days. And of these ten, there was only one café which we returned to again, and that’s Café Lomi.
Its location in the 18th arrondissement adds colour: here you may find the African district of Goutte d’Or and their ethnic market, Marché Barbès. No Gucci or Louis Vuitton shops here nor the wealthy Chinese mainlanders who raid them.
Instead what you get is a faux abandoned warehouse look — concrete walls, peeling paint, metal beams, even an old leather sofa or two. One of the coffee tables is an ancient luggage case – vintage vogue, perhaps? But décor aside, we were here for the coffee.
Café Lomi is a Franco-Australian collaboration between Aleaume Paturle and Paul Arnephy. Aleaume, who first cut his teeth making espressos in San Diego, had previously co-owned Alto Cafe (a mobile cafe concept that we encountered first-hand in front of Galeries Lafayette) before opening Café Lomi, so he’s considered one of the pioneers of the specialty coffee scene in Paris.
(Lomi is Aleaume’s nickname as a kid; that’s a cute way of celebrating one’s childhood.)
During our first visit, we had excellent coffee brewed by Aleaume’s beautiful wife, Maribel Cruz López. While busy attending to all her customers, she found time to catch up with regulars and get to know new customers like us.
Three of the cafes we later visited in Canal St Martin neighbourhood — Ten Belles, Craft and Tuck Shop — were her recommendations. Maribel even encouraged us to take a look at their roastery, which was very nice of her.
One of my favourite parts of the entire Café Lomi experience was watching their Japanese pastry chef, Kana Izutani, kneading dough and pulling trays of beautiful and wonderful-smelling treats from the oven. Kana had previously worked at William Ledeuil’s Ze Kitchen Gallery and her skill showed with every bite of our pastries.
Co-owner Paul was at Café Lomi when we dropped by a second time. The Australian roaster is an experienced barista, having won awards for his latte art. He told us he would usually roast the beans during their days off, and invited us to drop by and have a look if we were free.
Unfortunately this trip to Paris was a brief one, but we will definitely be back. Not only for the aroma of good coffee, but for that rare human touch we don’t see everywhere.
When we visited Ten Belles a day or two later, who did we bumped into but Aleaume, Maribel and Kana dropping by for a coffee and to say hi to the baristas there. It may be winter in Paris yet there is more here than simply coffee to warm our hearts.
3 ter Rue Marcadet, 75018 Paris, France
Wed-Sun 10am-7pm / Mon-Tue closed