It’s mid-morning in Aix-en-Provence. Sunlight slips into the narrow, cobbled streets. We wonder in search of an espresso. The espresso being necessary to follow our breakfast of corner bakery pain au chocolats – their flaky goodness seemed to merit the entire trip. And, what we would soon stumble upon would truly surpass our expectations for French java.
The French, unlike the neighboring Italians, are not particularity known for rich and outstanding offerings of the coffee kind. That is not to say I have not enjoyed a nice café au lait here and there within the country. However, it is to say they have a general lack of specialty coffee patrons, interest, knowledge and appreciation within the population. They may oppose Starbucks, although, not in defense of quality independent coffee houses; but in defense of their culture in a cigarette and café at the corner sidewalk bistro. The actual quality of the espresso (beans) served is commonly inferior, if on par to that of Starbucks. Of course, there are exceptions. And when you find one, it is something of a gem.
We were about to sit down at a traditional café for our sought out espresso as my brother’s attention, the true coffee enthusiast, was drawn to a grey, contemporary store front with the title Coffee To Go located just across the way. At first glance, I was hesitant to investigate, due to the English name and the sight of Anglophones exiting with 12 oz. to-go coffee cups. My first thought was, “how odd, I’m in France, I am not trying to have my latte and drink it too as I stroll the Aixois streets.”
Then, at closer range, a Chemex along with other sophisticated brewing equipment became visible inside. We entered to be greeted by a very pleasant twenty-thirty -something Frenchman, the owner in fact, Adrien. After reviewing our options and ordering “Une éxtraction Chemex pour deux personnes,” he responded in English with some coffee related question and soon he and my brother were back and forth with all sorts of coffee banter… single origin… some fancy name of an espresso machine… droppin’ names of world barista champions…
Okay, now I realize how I sound “chatting” wine. But when someone has a passion, the joy in sharing it with others; it just beams through. And that it was, beaming. It was also the most amazing, perky, balanced cup of coffee I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. A must visit to enjoy a cup when in Aix.
Coffee To Go AS
20 Rue Jacques de la Roque
+33 (0)6 87 79 66 44