Friday, August 27, 2010

The Best Espresso in Paris

I love coffee. And while I am no expert on the subject, I believe that I know what good coffee tastes like. 

My first 8 days in Europe were spent travelling all around Italy--from the well known cities of Rome, Milan, & Venice  to the lesser known towns of Bagnaia in Tuscany and Castiglione del Lago in Umbria. All along the way, I had caffe every chance I got--in gas stations, in restaurants, in the bars, and even from the occasional vendo machine. In fact, I had more than 30 cups in those 8 days.

Caffe (no one calls it 'espresso' in Italy) became an integral part of my day. If i didn't start and end my day with a cup, it felt so wrong. Over the following 6 weeks, my travels took me to 6 other European countries which all had their own version of coffee (the French have cafe au lait, the Austrians have the melange, Switzerland has cafe creme, etc.). My coffee addiction demanded that I have at least one cup a day. But after each cup, I would walk away quite disappointed. After about 6 weeks, I had given up all hope of finding a good macchiato outside of Italy until I stumbled upon Alto Cafe in Paris

If I were a Transformer, this is what I would be--a small, red truck that turns into a Coffee Cart.
This mobile-state-of-the-art-coffee-cart served up the BEST caffe macchiato outside of Italy.
In fact, it ranks as one of the BEST caffe macchiato's I've
 ever had. And I've had a lot. 
The shot of espresso was PERFECT--it had wonderful body, a nutty-almost chocolatey aroma,
and was not the least bit bitter. They used a French roasted blend of Arabica-Robusta (i'm guessing about 70-30).

The milk was expertly executed--velvety smooth, extremely creamy & slightly sweet.
It was so good, I had to have another one.
This was my second macchiato, which I excitedly took a sip of before taking this picture.
The second was even better than the first. (Caffe Macchiato: € 2.20)

In between my shots, the barista had recalibrated the grinder. (This is one tell-tale sign of a good barista. Good cafe's will recalibrate their grinder 2-3 times a day.) Alto Cafe gets extra points in my book for recalibrating their grinder the old fashioned way: by watching how the espresso shot comes out.

I also appreciated how friendly the barista was and how fluent she was in English, making Alto Cafe very tourist-friendly. 

The next time I'm in Paris, I know exactly where to go for my caffe fix.

Alto Cafe is located outside the Homme Building of Galeries Lafayette.
(40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris | Metro Station: Chaussee d'Antin-La Fayette)
For more information, visit and

[photo credits: aRj taken with Apple iPhone] 


  1. The next time I'm in Paris, I know home espresso machines exactly where to go for my caffe fix.

  2. Hey RJ, how come you don't maintain this blog? This was such an awesome start. Sayang...