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In Los Angeles, where I spent my childhood, exterior ostentation is all the rage. Houses in places like Beverly Hills and Malibu announce their opulence so loudly that you practically feel like you’re being invited inside to gawk (hint: you’re not). Paris couldn’t be more different: the facades of even the poshest buildings are generally understated. The real opulence lies beyond the street level, in ornate, sprawling, lush courtyards you can’t generally access. This is a side of the city most of us barely get to see, much less enjoy. Imagine my joy, then, when I happened recently on Honor, a newish courtyard cafe situated behind the portals of a Haussmannian building on the swank Rue du Faubourg St Honoré.
This independent stand complete with a partly-covered seating area at the back is owned by the English-Australian couple Daniel Warburton and Angelle Boucher, who teamed up with a local roaster to offer what’s now reputed as some of the better brews in the capital. Serving delicious house blend coffees and homemade cakes as well as a variety of other light fare, this place struck me as a local gem, especially in the decidedly upmarket 8th arrondissement, where it can be difficult to find a place that’s nice but laid-back. The Rue du Faubourg St Honore is mostly populated with boutiques from couture designers and luxury jewelers, and the cafes and brasseries in the area tend to be quite expensive (does a mediocre shot of espresso really need to cost 6 Euros a pop? I think not.)
Nestled within one of those aforementioned gorgeous courtyards, Honor makes excellent coffee and cake, but the service is friendly and the vibe is easy and relaxed. The prices are all quite moderate for the area, too. After chatting for a bit with the friendly barista in a seamless combination of French and English, she recommended that I try the house blend Americano, which I opted for black, per my usual habits.
What’s on the Menu
The menu at the small stand, while far from extensive, offers some good options for the serious coffee lover and adventurous taster: filter shots, cold brews and an “aeropress” brew are among the choices, and in addition to the house blend there are single-origin coffees from Guatemala and Ethiopia on offer. The menu even features what is ostensibly a decent decaf, for those who really can’t manage caffeine. Much to my surprise, the stand also serves flat whites– a staple drink in the UK with foamed milk that’s denser and creamier than the sort typically topping a cappuccino. This makes more sense upon noting that one of the co-owners is British, of course.
For their house blend espresso and single-origin micro-lot beans, Honor works with the Parisian roaster Coutume, whose own-name cafe is immensely popular with coffee stalwarts in the capital. All beans are directly sourced from growers; this ensures, Honor says on their website, that farmers get a fair percentage of profits.
The Seating Area
One of the loveliest features of the stand is that it’s not only good for takeaway coffee– the outdoor seating area (and partly covered seats at the back) are ideal for perching and catching up with the day’s news over your cup of coffee and cake. You can watch the comings and goings through the courtyard and take some reprieve from the crowds outside. Anyway, drinking from a takeout cup while walking down the street is viewed by most in Paris as a bit gauche. It might even instantly identify you as a frazzled New Yorker or Londoner who hasn’t quite learned how to take time out in the day for life’s little enjoyments.
The coffee was balanced, aromatic and smooth, without the bitterness of so many espressos guzzled in typical neighborhood cafes around Paris (note: some contend that the average cafe in the capital serves what is possibly the world’s worst coffee; I think the charge is exaggerated, but have admittedly had my fair share of shudder-worthy espressos).
I accompanied my house Americano with a slice of homemade, marbled coffee cake: buttery and crumbly and the perfect antidote to a mid-morning lag in energy, after having spent several hours wandering the city on foot.
The one downside I can see to this place? For true early birds in search of decent coffee, the weekday opening time is a bit late at 9 am. Plan, as I ended up doing, to beeline here a pre-lunch break, or for an afternoon treat.
Getting There and Contact Info:
- Address: 54 Rue du Faubourg St Honore, 8th arrondissement (walk through the doors to the inner courtyard)
- Metro: Madeleine or Miromesnil
- Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closed on Sundays.
- Email: [email protected]
- Visit the website
Heading to Paris?
If so, consider booking a highly rated food tour here (via TripAdvisor), and browse a variety of tours and activities in the capital (via Tiqets.com).