Blackburn Coffee

WHERE: 52 Rue du Faubourg St. Martin, 75010 (10ème arrondissement)
WHEN: Tue-Fri 9am-6pm; Sat-Sun 10am-7pm (closed Monday)
HOW MUCH: espresso 2.50€; crème 4€
METRO: Château d’Eau (line 4) ; Jacques Bonsergent (line 5); Strasbourg St. Denis (lines 4, 8, 9)
BEANS: Lomi – choice of single estate – Indonesia, Ethiopia and Salvador.
FOOD: snacks and pastries from 2-5.50€; lunch up to 11€
CONTACT: Web; Facebook; Tel: +33 1 42 41 73 31

Post: Alex Fox
Photos: Coral de Camps

Paris is a tricky city for a foreigner: there are many nuances that people like me will never understand. For example, coming from Australia, I am consistently misled by morning weather in Paris, which is never really predictive of the day to come. One particularly cloudless Saturday morning informed me that it was not a day for a jacket, and that it was also a great opportunity to venture out to visit a café in the 10th arrondissement, so I donned my exploring t-shirt and sunglasses and was out the door.

Thirty minutes later, leaving the densely populated Canal St. Martin, I start strolling down Rue du Faubourg St. Martin, still enjoying the sun on my face. But there is something about this road that is immediately surprising, namely that, on a Saturday at lunchtime, there are about four shops open on this entire street. Have I just stumbled across some strange back-end area, which allows for brief, yet silent refuge from the bustling streets and passages on either side? I find out later on that this street contains a large number of African style hair salons (cornrows a-plenty), and malls populated primarily by Indian expats. Really Paris, what’s the deal?   

Nevertheless, buried in this void, we find the awesomely understated Blackburn Café, content in its isolation and home to some excellent coffee. The part owner and barista, Sofiane, tells me that he relishes in the strange location, as the shop is a challenge to find, yet extremely close to a large number of popular areas in Paris, thus earning the title of the café just around the corner. He describes his coffee ethos while meticulously preparing my café crème over a period of minutes, and I realise that everything about this café, including the location, has been carefully selected to produce a certain effect, one that works very successfully. This effect is visible in the simple design, the choice of music, and even the coffee itself. I feel as if everything is slightly shifted away from the usual, however in such a way and to such a degree that it all seems to balance effortlessly.

It is this balance that allows customers to select their Blackburn experience. Coffee is à la demande (by request), with an interesting variation in the beans, which have origins as diverse as Indonesia, Ethiopia and Salvador. There are several seating options depending on how much conversation is desired, and  sections for reading and laptop work. I am at the café for about 45 minutes, and during this time I see groups of people enter the shop with the intention of chatting over coffee, while others come in search of food. This reveals the other half of the café’s ownership, Sarah, who occupies herself with the preparation of delicious smelling dishes; savory tarts served with rocket, smaller tartines and salads, in addition to assortments of cakes and pastries. The pairing of barista Sofiane and chef Sarah produces a double hit of taste at this café, which is evident by the large yet casual turnover of customers, who arrive in search of a comfortable place to sit while they eat or drink.

I enjoy my time spent in Blackburn café, and by looking around it is apparent to me that the majority of customers also share a similar experience. This is one place that is definitely worth a visit for a smooth coffee and tasty French lunch menu. I will be returning with gourmands and coffee aficionados alike, as both will be catered for here.

Paris has delivered, once more, a stylish hangout spot for both French and English speakers near one of the more popular youth occupied areas of town. This is one thing that never surprises me about Paris: venues can continue to open up with the ultimate goal to deliver a great experience to customers, all in the name of good taste. I think about this high standard as I exit the café, and am suddenly met with a rush of cold air, racing down the near empty street. Now cloudy, the sky mocks my subtropical origins. I should have brought a jacket.


  1. They have always very nice coffees from a British roaster, Campbell & Syme from London. Something different from the Coutumes and Bellevilles :D