Coutume Lab

WHERE: 4 rue du Bouloi 75002 (1er arrondissement)
WHEN: Tue-Fri 9am-7pm; Sat-Sun 10am-7pm
HOW MUCH: 4€ for a cappuccino
METRO: Louvre-Rivoli (line 1)
BEANS: Café Coutume
FOOD: WikiPearl
CONTACT: Facebook; Tel: +33 1 45 51 50 47

If it wasn't already apparent that Café Coutume was going for a coffee laboratory look with all the beakers and flasks in their main café, Coutume Lab should clear up any remaining doubts.

As part of Le Laboratoire and Le Lab Store, Coutume Lab is a venue for a whole array of fascinating–and sometimes extremely bizarre–sense experiences. On the shelves you will find a collection of intricate inventions, ranging from inhalable coffee vapour to prototypes for scent-transmitting phones, while at the bar you will be treated to a gustative ceremony, courtesy of WikiPearl Ice Cream and Café Coutume. 

First, a word about the coffee, as that's why we're all here. It is made by Coutume-certified baristas who have many years' experience in the business. As such, it meets the standards of even the fussiest coffee drinkers, i.e. you, dear reader. If you're just after a coffee, then have one at the counter and browse the myriad inventions on display while you savour your beverage. Otherwise, get one to go and head out to explore the surrounding 1st and 2nd arrondissements.

Second, a word about WikiPearl. Apparently, the whole idea is to create a frozen ice cream-like ball that tastes like a particular food (sweet or savoury) that we are used to. Examples include, but are certainly not limited to, pumpkin and coriander, beetroot and foie gras, and roquefort and walnut. The experience is exactly as you'd expect it to be: it tastes just like the ingredients, only in the form of a frozen ball of foodstuff. Delicious? Difficult to say. Worth a try? Definitely.

At the moment, Coutume Lab is organising free degustations on Saturdays, where they offer you four savoury WikiPearls, followed by an espresso broken down into its six distinct stages. From a dose of 18g of freshly ground coffee, the barista extracts the six parts of the espresso into separate cups, and asks you to identify the flavours as you progress from the beginning to the end of the shot. You are then shown the coffee taster's flavour wheel and given a detailed description of what you just drank. Finally, the barista indicates which stage (or stages) of the espresso you are used to, depending on the coffee that is characteristic of your country. 

All in all, the experience is extremely interesting and enjoyable. The barista executes the role of coffee scientist with impressive precision, and as you sit and chat with your fellow guinea pigs, you can't help but feel like you're part of something new and exciting.

If you are after such an experience to accompany your cup of Coutume coffee, then make a trip to Coutume Lab. 

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