A stone’s throw from Metro stop Saint-Sébastien-Froissart in the Marais, is the much-hyped Boot Café.
Their infamy boosted after being featured on the front cover of new cult book ‘The New Paris’, Boot Café boasts a stunning and unique (if not slightly covert) facia, with a vintage-looking traditional ‘Cordonnerie’ in a stunning pale blue which looks like something out of an old French postcard.
Upon arrival, I was stunned by how incredibly tiny this place really is. I’d seen photos online (namely on Instagram where the place is featured by locals and coffee-enthusiast tourists alike on a seemingly-hourly basis), but you can’t really get a sense of scale until you get here. It really is quite petite.
There are three small tables with stools where you can sit and enjoy your coffee, but I doubt you could host more than about eight people comfortably inside. However, I showed up at 4.30pm at (I’m assuming) an off-peak time where I actually had a choice between 2 of the mini tables, and there was less than a handful of customers.
I can imagine that getting a seat would be chaos on a weekend – but luckily Boot Café do offer takeaway coffee cups, so you can still get a taste of their Berlin-roasted Five Elephant brew coffee, even if you can’t sit in.
Since I was lucky enough to get a seat, I indulged in a longer ‘café allongé’ coffee (essentially an espresso with extra water), so that I could really drink in the atmosphere and type up my first impressions right away.
The coffee had the most incredible red-brown crema with a perfect balance of sweetness, nuttiness and a little kick of bitterness that gave a fullness to the flavour that was really satisfying. It was very easy to drink, with a natural sweetness and smoothness that added balance to the brew. There was very minimal sediment at the bottom of the cup, and the aftertaste was mild and woody.
The interior is incredibly quaint, with clean white square tiles, with wooden circular tables that would be right at home in a tradition Parisian comptoir. They have retained the original traditional Parisian doors and ivory-look handles, offset with brightly coloured plastic stools that give a playful and colourful twist to the traditional shell. The walls are decorated with an eclectic mix of postcards, magazines, books and notes that add personality and atmosphere to this small space. Plus you’ll find fresh flowers on the table that you can enjoy whilst sipping your very reasonably-priced, quality espresso. There’s nothing like a floral bouquet to amp up the instagrammability (yes, I did make that word up!) of an expertly-poured latte.
They don’t offer any non-dairy alternative milks, so vegan and lactose intolerant visitors had better be up for a black coffee! Anyone looking for a ‘real milk’ latte, though, will receive full fat, raw milk which is apparently of very high quality. This is a UHT free zone!
If you’re looking to eat, you’re going to be limited to cakes and cookies which are designed to be more of an accompaniment to your coffee rather than a brunch or lunch option – granola is going to be the closest you can get to a meal here. As such, if you’re looking for somewhere to eat and get a caffeine hit, then his may not be the ideal spot. The baked goods are, however, homemade at their new larger location in Rue des Grands Augustins in the 6th Arrondissement. You could always pop to one of the many nearby eateries and come here for coffee and desert. A perfect plan!
Boot Café is a bit of an anglophone trap (which let’s face it, is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective), with a very sweet British barista behind the small bar, and many Brits and Americans coming through the door. Overhearing conversations it seems to be a hotspot for expats and adoptive-Parisians. The soft background music is a mix of indie, blues and American hip-hop, which certainly goes against the stereotypical Parisian coffee shop ambiance of accordion tunes, average (or just straight-up poor!) coffee and monotonous traditional interiors and service. Boot Café is certainly trying to appeal to a hipster crowd rather than your average tourist visitor, but offsets ‘edge’ with softer details and elements of charming traditional character. This style is fairly typical of this part of town, and I am not shy to admit that it’s right up my street.
I did manage to get a few hour’s work done on my visit, mainly thanks to the free WiFi that isn’t always typical of a Parisian café of this size. I am not sure if I would return again for a ‘coffee shop office’ trip, in fear of being less lucky in finding a seat and table. It’s more of a place to meet friends and catch up, on an occasion where a takeaway cup would be an acceptable back-up plan, or when you could head to another location if the place is full. Plus I would feel guilty taking up one of the three small tables for an extended amount of time when there’s a lot of people hoping to sit down and enjoy their coffee.
In short, if you’re into high-quality coffee, this place is worth adding to your list of coffee shops to try in Paris, but it probably isn’t suitable for a work date or co-working club destination. But you won’t be disappointed by the brew or the aesthetic – it’s dripping in Instagram potential and is very atmospheric, despite the small package.