Sometimes small and simple is good.

We find ourselves in the 1st arrondissement after shopping at Palais Royal, with half an hour or so to burn before lunch at the Japanese quarter nearby. Just around the corner from an udon shop is Télescope, a tiny café serving plenty of good coffee, a few baked treats and zero wifi.

The first thing that strikes us as we enter is how spare the interior is. Not intentionally Zen-inspired minimalist, we gather, but simply minimalist with no froufrou: just good coffee. Still, an observant eye will catch a number of owls scattered all over the café; more mascot than Hogwarts, so don’t expect any cutesy fluff.

The half English, half American owner and barista David Flynn is scrawling the name of his establishment on the window. Without that label, most of the customers who drop by are regulars — usually English-speaking expats, white-collar types from neighbouring offices and the occasional Japanese coffee lover.

And, of course, us.

We settle into our seats and peruse the sparse menu. The basic bites – from crumbly banana bread cake to their no-nonsense granola – are decent but it’s the coffee that sets Télescope apart. Here you may try an espresso made from a balanced blend from UK-based Has Bean, or linger over a filter brew from Norwegian roaster Solberg & Hansen (somewhat a darker roast than typical for Scandinavia).

A noisette, we discover, is nothing more than a shot of espresso with a dash of cream in it. Nothing more and nothing less, yet crafted by the hands of a seasoned barista, this beverage is a single sip of pleasure. If we could read French, we’ll enjoy our second cup (and third and fourth) while perusing a copy of Le Monde or Le Parisien like a local.

If you head downstairs to use the little boy’s room, you may be thrilled to uncover a vintage vault-like cellar, which is also used for cuppings. Not so sparse after all; there are layers if we would only peel them back.

Small and simple? It’s all good.


5 Rue Villedo, 75001 Paris
Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm / Sat 9:30am-6:30pm / Sun closed

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November 1, 2013


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