Friday, August 21, 2009

Pierre & Joseph : Caffé Serré

Parisians never really talk about their coffee. Its something one sips when the other is giving its latest views on socialistic politics. Coffee is just there, and according to them, the best of the world, fin de discussion.
I never really agreed with their assumption, coffee in France isn't even french, it's Italian. If you ask an espresso you will more than probably get a watery coffee in a small espresso cup. The best thing is actually to ask for a caffe serré, as this will come very close to what is know in the rest of the world as an espresso.
So when I asked around where the coffee might be better than the accompanying cookie, I was referred to Verlet in Rue St Honorée.
When entering it was clear that they were serious about their business, there was loose tea and some precious spices displayed alongside their speciality coffee house blend. There was also no bar for hanging and talking, only tables, this was a place for savouring and tasting,
All tables were full so we decided to go upstairs to the second floor. To our surprise there was another espresso machine, a grudgy looking Faema 2 groups.
The menu was pretty small, we took the espresso of the house blend. Jeff was already weary and took a sencha green tea to share, something we have been exploring lately. We were curious about the running time so we actually timed it, after 30 seconds we were looking worried. Our concern grew after another 10 seconds, turning into disbelief after another 15 seconds, than there was denial and afterwards acceptance. The espresso ran for a whopping one minute and forty two seconds, while the barista was looking at it in a very concentrated manner, all the time holding the cups firmly under the sputtering machine.
It is unnecessary at this point to make a serious review about the coffee. If something was unique in that bean it was now shattered and cooked beyond recognition. The same could be said of the green tea, witch was served on cooked water, way to warm for any serious delicate extracion.
The cookie however was, as always in Paris, vraiment impeccable.
Like thirsty men in a desert of bland blends we just cave in to our needs and went into a random café around the corner of Le Bon Marché on Rue du Bac, it was called Café les Mouettes. We had the lowest of expectations, nonetheless we ordered deux eXpress, to our amasement it wasn't all that bad. It's been years that I tasted a factory produced coffee. I have long had a theory that these mass produced brands actually adjust to the end producer of the coffee, for example the cafe's of France. They adjust their roasting procedure and select their beans specifically for/or to tolerate underextraction (wich in the case of France happens very often). It is only logical and cheaper than training every possible barkeeper. Underextraction using the beans in Caffenation would have a dramatic impact on the taste, the espresso would be very acidic. This is not the case in the bar in Paris.

Pierre & Joseph,
Antwerp Baristi à Paris

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