We have a mental image of the archetypal Parisian café. There’s a handpainted sign, those checkered woven chairs, and an ornate wooden bar with little hooks for your jacket.
Back in Black has none of those things, but that doesn’t mean it’s not our first choice for coffee in Paris’s 11th Arrondissement. The sleek, modern, café from KB Coffee Roasters offers a contemporary setting to go with its more contemporary roasting style.
Despite its name, Back in Black’s interior is stark white; the bar decked out in all-white everything, with the exception of the Marco batch brewer. An arsenal of Victoria Arduino espresso grinders provides a plethora of espresso options, three counter-sunk Acaia scales — a la Wrecking Ball– give a large team of baristas plenty of space to brew pour-overs.
When we visited Back in Black on a recent Saturday morning, the café was hopping with the weekend brunch crowd. We slipped into a table near the espresso bar and found ourselves grateful Back in Black offers table service (no waiting in a long queue to order). At the back of the slender shotgun-like space is a Diedrich IR-12, where the team at KB roasts a wide array of single origin coffees.
I ordered a shot of espresso, a single origin Costa Rica that was sweet and syrupy with a nice, but not over-bearing acidity. It was balanced and well-developed to my American palate, but I can only imagine that traditional Parisian coffee drinkers might think about such a modern approach. A menu of all-day breakfast featuring free-range eggs had me wishing I hadn’t already grabbed breakfast elsewhere.
For sure, there will always be a place for the traditional Parisian café– we’ll just be stopping by Back in Black first.