According to Julie

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my espresso machine

My espresso machine didn’t work this morning.

If you know me at all, you know what that means. In case you don’t:

Last time a coffee machine didn’t work in my kitchen, I called my parents in a panic, waking them up at what apparently was too early in the morning (too lazy to take care of me in a caffeine crisis!). I completely forgot the existence both of a French press on one of my kitchen shelves and of coffee shops on my way to work. They haven’t let me forget that incident, bringing it up whenever they need to prove how high maintenance I am. To be fair (to myself) that coffee machine EXPLODED. No, seriously, it was scary. Suddenly all other appliances in my kitchen switched off and I had hot water and random coffee machine parts all over my kitchen counter.

However, I didn’t love that machine. I love this one. When I told friends that I was suddenly moving to Paris about a year ago, they said: "But… your coffee machine…" as if they were saying "… your child…"

And this morning, a morning which for a long list of reasons was not a good one to begin with, I turned on my coffee machine, ground my coffee, flipped the switch and this happened:

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The Dutch Coffee Company café doesn’t charge for WiFi, but changes its network name into OrderAnotherCoffeeAlready, BuyAnotherCupYouCheapskate, BuyCoffeeForCuteGirlOverThere? etc.

I would definitely prefer that to the Paris system of disconnecting me after 20 minutes.

Via Freakonomics, Adrants and CyrusFarivar.




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Kaffebarguiden: Kaffe Gram

Julie drikker kaffe spiser gulrotkake.

Det er latterlig at jeg ikke har tatt turen  (fem minutter til fots) opp til Sagene for å teste Kaffe Gram før nå. Det er snart et år siden jeg leste om stedet, og et semester i Paris er egentlig ingen unnskyldning for manglende kaffebarblogging. Unnskyld. I anledning Kaffens Dag i september, var jeg på Sagene for å få gratis kaffe (i mengder) fra Kaffebrenneriet. Og først da!

Jeg vil egentlig ikke si noe definitivt om kaffen før jeg har testet den mer enn en gang. Min enkle cortado var god.

Så spiste jeg gulrotkaken.

Gulrotkaken på bildet er ikke gulrotkaken på Kaffe Gram. Å fotografere den ville nesten vært uanstendig :-)

Gulrotkaken på Kaffe Gram bør ikke spises offentlig, i hvert fall ikke hvis man er sjenert. Man mister konsentrasjonsevnen fullstendig, enhver samtale stopper opp og det eneste man kan tenke på er hvor fantastisk det føles. Mmmmmmmmmm! Det er det eneste man kan si, og det sier man – høyt – enten man vil eller ikke.

Ellers er det forfriskende med en café som ikke velger en av to caféstiler – minimalistisk eller påtrengende jeg-er-bare-tilfeldigvis-så-koselig. Kaffe Gram har flamingotema. Og et bad som må oppleves.

Jeg kommer tilbake. Om et år eller noe.

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A friend informed me that my blog "wasn’t working". There was no text. This means that for the first time in the history of this blog, I have taken a full-month break from blogging. Don’t worry, I will be back. But I’m in Norway again, which means that a combination of summer job, reunion with friends, family and coffee machine and unbelievably fabulous weather is keeping me offline. Until the next time it rains, and I’m not at work or at a party, read this.


Coffee in Paris

I always thought that if I lived in Paris, I would have a favorite café just around the corner, where Parisians have noisy two-hour lunches with wine, while the friendly, yet efficient waiters know me by sight and start making me an espresso as I walk in the door. And then I moved here and learned a sad, little secret: Parisians are good at cafés and bad at the actual coffee.

Most French cafés use Robusta coffee, which is cheaper, can be stored for longer, and is generally considered to be of lower quality than Arabica coffee. About half of the coffee beans imported by the French are Robusta beans, according to the International Trade Forum. US coffee imports on the other hand, are composed of 76% Arabica and 24% Robusta. Canadian and German imports are similar to the US, and the Nordic countries barely import Robusta at all.

So how do you get good coffee in Paris? Italian brands illy and Lavazza use only Arabica, so look for their logos. Le Malar, for example, on the corner of rue St. Dominique and rue Malar, uses Lavazza. Look for brûleries, the French word for coffee roaster. And then there is Starbucks, which is becoming almost as common as the traditional Parisian café. Just make sure you get your Starbucks coffee in an actual cup, as paper cups cool the coffee too quickly, seriously damaging the taste. Starbucks gives you exactly what you expect from a chain: consistently decent coffee, but never a fantastic experience. So where do you go for fantastic?

On rue St. Dominique, there is a specialty coffee store called Comptoirs Richard, with a bar in the back of the shop where you can get excellent espresso. It’s a five minute walk from the Bosquet building, so this is a good choice for a quick dose of caffeine between classes.

If you want to sit down, read newspapers and use WiFi, try espressamente illy, near Opera. With shiny metal decor and a display of brightly colored espresso machines, the atmosphere is far from traditional or French – in fact, it might seem a little cold. You can still enjoy a pretty good espresso.

In the same area, you’ll find Verlet, with a long line of people waiting to get coffee for their homes, and gesticulating Parisians at every table. I loved their coffee cups, and I wouldn’t mind occupying a table here for a few hours with friends. However, while their espresso was good, it would have been much better if it wasn’t stored pre-ground in an open container. Once coffee has been ground, the taste is getting worse by the second. As a general rule, if you don’t see a coffee grinder behind the counter, get tea.

My favorite is Cafeotheque Soluna by Hôtel de Ville. The espresso, which changes daily, is delicious, the friendly baristas clearly know what they’re doing, and the comfortable atmosphere makes me want to bring a stack of books and newspapers and stay for hours. And as Parisian clichés go, a favorite café overlooking the Seine is just as good as one around the corner.

List of recommended coffee shops:

Comptoirs Richard
145, rue St. Dominique
Nearest metro stop: Ecole Militaire
Espresso at the counter: 2.60
(There is another Comptoirs Richard at this address: 48, rue du Cherche-Midi)

espressemente illy
13, rue Auber
Nearest metro stop: Opera
Espresso at the counter: 2

256, rue Saint-Honoré
Nearest metro stop: Pyramides or Madeleine
Espresso at the counter: 2.70

Caféotheque Soluna
52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville
Nearest metro stop: Pont Marie
Espresso at the counter: 2 for coffee of the day, 2.50 for other espresso coffees

Cafés Amazone
11, rue Rambuteau
Nearest metro stop: Rambuteau (not far from Hôtel de Ville)
Espresso at the counter: 1 (cheapest espresso shot tested)

I have not had time to visit these, but they’re worth mentioning:
Malongo, a French coffee chain
Nespresso on Champs Elyssée
Hediard, 126, rue dur Bac, by Musée D’Orsay

Two brûleries, not cafés:
Brûleries de Ternes 10, rue Poncelet, by the Arc de Triomphe
Lapeyronie, 3, rue Brantôme, by Centre Georges Pompidou

Originally published in The Planet


Coffee causes miscarriages, apparently*

I am so sick of health scares like this one.

"The Food Standards Agency recommend 300 mg of caffeine a day as the safe limit for pregnant women, but now they’re saying you should just cut it out all together during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy."

Thoughts going through my head as I read this:

  1. I seriously can’t believe this. And from a website I actually like no less.
  2. I much prefer to believe that nice nutritionist who came to Coffee Week at the University of Oslo, gave me the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted and told me coffee was very, very safe.
  3. I’m glad the commentors agree with me.
  4. When you apply for adopting children, and they ask you why, can you write "I need my coffee, so I can’t be pregnant"?
  5. I want coffee RIGHT NOW.

* Yes, the Coupling reference is intentional.