Boot Café

WHERE: 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003 (3ème arrondissement) 
WHEN: 10am-6pm everyday 
HOW MUCH: espresso 2€; crème 4€; Chemex 4€
METRO: Saint Sebastien - Froissart (line 8) 
BEANS: Belleville Brûlerie 
FOOD: some sweet little nibbles and fresh fruit; a few savoury lunch dishes 
CONTACT: Web; Facebook; Tel: +33 6 26 41 10 66 

Contributed by Alex Fox
Photos by Laurie Illan

There are some places that fill you with an instant and effortless sense of coolness as soon as you walk in the door. Boot Café is one such place. 

This bright blue hole-in-the-wall espresso bar opened in early-2014 in the northeast Marais, an area with a growing number of decent coffee shops. Built into an old cobbler’s shop, the minuscule café consists of only three low tables, tucked neatly into the walls. The décor is reminiscent of a sunkissed California, with black and white photos of ‘50s surfers and an eclectic assortment of postcards lining the walls.

A lone barista, Lloyd, selects the tunes on his music device, lining up an appropriate soundtrack of the Beach Boys as he greets me with a smile and a hearty bonjour. After I order my coffee, it is understood that, not only are we both not French, but we are both Australian - an increasingly unsurprising discovery in the specialty coffee scene in Paris. 

Despite the size, the café sees no lack of business. It handles customers comfortably, as the clientele arrives in small but regular numbers throughout the day. Lloyd, a former Lockwoodian, describes the harmonious cycle of service that exists between Boot Café and the surrounding bars: “The barmen wake up late in the afternoon, and come in for a coffee before they start work. Then when we finish at the café, the baristas go to the bars and are served by those same barmen”. I like that.

Throughout the conversation, I sip slowly on my café crème, crafted on the Marzocco from a Peru-Burundi blend provided by Belleville Brûlerie. It’s right on point, and I’m happy.

The highlight of my visit comes when Lloyd offers me a coconut after I finish my coffee. This seems to suit the exotic theme quite well, so I accept, and watch as he surgically pierces the coconut's solid shell with a battery-powered drill. After finishing the fruit’s refreshing contents, I am directed to smash the coconut onto the footpath, which I do with great enthusiasm. Lloyd then washes the shattered pieces and serves them in a bowl for me to eat.

Besides smashed coconut and a small selection of sweets, Boot's food menu also includes a Jamaican-style escovitch (10€) and an omelette (7.5€). Sunday is savoury congée brunch-time, going for 7.5€ and topped with an impressive array of spices and seasonings, which all conspire to transport your tastebuds to a tropical elsewhere. The standout item on the breakfast menu is the granola, provided by our old mate Emperor Norton. (I sometimes wonder what cafés in Paris would do without their beloved Emperor).

If there's any doubt left in your mind about the coolness of Boot Café, let it be known that they recently offered a week's worth of free coffee to anyone who could come in and rap an entire Biggie Smalls verse, on the occasion of the BK rapper's birthday. What a damn shame that I was out of town when that was happening, since, thanks to my visit to Boot Café, I just might have been cool enough to win it.