Sunday, May 11, 2014

Coffee: my personal history

As always, long time no blog. These days, I don't have enough energy (nor content, IMO) to write blog posts, mostly on Free Software, which would relevant for other people.

Why, would you ask ? Mostly because with my not-so-new-anymore position at SUSE (Enterprise Desktop Release Manager), I'm mostly working behind the scene (discovery the joy of OBS to create ISO images and lot of crazy similar stuff) which might not be that sexy to describe but still need to be done ;)

So, instead of closing this blog for new posts, I'm trying something new to me: writing about things which aren't Free Software but might still interest people:

My new thing these days (asks my wife ;) is coffee.

I've always been fond of coffee (and tea, they aren't mutually exclusive, fortunately), probably because when I was a child, my parents loved good coffee and I was happy to be the one taking care of both electric grinder and Expresso machine we had. And I remember how difficult it was to find good coffee, even more when you were living in a very rural area of France and when the only online services were accessible with a Minitel and were definitively not selling coffee ;)

Fast forward ten years, when I started to work in Paris, I was still into coffee and I discovered something which wasn't known at all at that time (it was in 2002 and George was still working in ER ;): Nespresso. This was a great thing (even if I was a bit worried by the closed system around it) because I was able to get a expresso at home which was always good (IMO at that time) and which also allowed me to switch between various coffees without any hassle (try that with several ground opened coffee bags when you are single and only drink one expresso per day ;)

And then started my love story with Nespresso, which has not ended (yet), with its ups (being part of a customer panel once, including UI designers, very interesting) and downs. I often skipped coffee in cafés and restaurants because I knew it wouldn't be good!

Nespresso Drinker
Fast forward again 10 years. We are in 2014. Caps war is on for few years in France, since some of Nespresso patents are in public domain and competitors are trying to get a share of this huge market (France is apparently one of the biggest markets for Nespresso). I've tried various alternative caps and most of them are just cheaper and not as good as the original caps, except one or two caps done by some "small" roasters (Terre de Café for instance). I ended up sticky with the original, until something better "happens".

And it has happened these days, somehow unexpectedly: for a few years, I was reading about strange devices (Aeropress being cited often) and tasty filter coffee (which, for me, as always been synonym of bad coffee) and I also heared some radio shows on coffee which make me think: let's try.
I ordered an Aeropress and tried it (with some fair trade coffee from my supermarket since I don't have any grinded coffee at home and opening caps wasn't really a good idea). Result: not bad, compared to the consistency of Nespresso but not that great. I knew I wasn't using great coffee.

The Aeropress
So, I decided to expand a bit more and searched for good coffee roasters in Paris. And one of those which was often mentionned is Coutume Café (their main website is not great ATM, better to look at their FB account), who also have a coffee shop. I went there, tried one of their coffee and I was astonished. This was the best ever coffee I ever tasted, with flavor like red fruits and chocolate. This was incredible and it wasn't even an expresso (which has been my reference for coffee) but filter coffee which looks like dishwater ;)

So, I'm now with this exact same coffee at home, waiting for delivery of a freshly ordered manual grinder to try to duplicate this coffee experience, because I try other coffee and other Paris roasters.

Let's see if I succeed :)


  1. I love good coffee too, and we have a Nespresso. As you say, it's really better than most cafe coffee. The best ways to enjoy coffee flavour in general tend to be drip coffee, rather than espresso, although it has to be done right. The amount and grind of coffee, the temperature and amount of water is important, but even things like how you pour the water really makes a difference to the flavour.

    But my favourite way to make coffee is the siphon. I got a one-cup siphon maker as a gift, and I love it. It's not for every day, but during lazy weekend mornings it's perfect. I wrote a blog post (with an animation) here if you're interested:

  2. I can't believe I never knew about Coutume Café during all my years in Paris :) I agree that it is not easy to find a good coffee in a café/restaurant in Paris (which is really odd, as one can easily find excellent quality of any other type of food/drink...), but a few decent places can be found. My favourite place for drinking coffee was the Caféothèque in the fourth (they also roast and sell beans, but I never tried that as I only used the Nespresso at home).


  3. Great choice of grinder: Small, cheap and get the job done.