A specialty coffee shop tour of Toulouse, France
France is renowned for its longstanding relationship with coffee, with the country’s first coffee house believed to have opened in the late 1680s. Today, France is the fifth-largest coffee roasting market in Europe; it imported around 229,000 tonnes of green coffee in 2020.
While it’s by no means a leading market where third wave coffee culture is concerned, the CBI estimates that by 2025, specialty coffee in France will comprise some 10% of the total coffee market.
One of the growing destinations for specialty coffee in France is Toulouse. The city is the fourth-largest in France and remains a major trade hub, largely thanks to its location between the Mediterranean Sea and Spain.
To learn more about the city’s specialty coffee shops, I explored some of them. Read on to find out what I discovered.
You may also like our specialty coffee shop tour of Vilnius, Lithuania.
Neroli Coffee Society
Neroli Coffee Society, which first opened in September 2019, is located in the historic Les Carmes district of Toulouse. Neroli has a strong focus on high-quality coffee, as well as a range of internationally-inspired food and beverage items on its brunch and lunch menus.
Fresh, organic, and locally-sourced ingredients are used in the dishes, which are offered alongside freshly-made juices and smoothies.
The menu also includes a variety of coffees and teas, as well as a range of plant-based milks. Neroli roasts its own coffee, which is organic and Fair Trade-certified. One of the several coffees available is the Neroli Premium Organic Blend, which is comprised of Peruvian and Sumatran coffees. The blend has notes of nuts and chocolate.
As far as café design is concerned, Neroli is heavily influenced by US West Coast coffee shops, with wooden finishes, pastel tones, neon lights, and large communal tables.
|Where?||11 Rue Théodore Ozenne, 31000|
|Espresso machines||La Marzocco KB90|
|Coffee menu||Espresso, milk-based beverages, iced coffees|
|Retail||Peru espresso blend, Ethiopian filter blend|
|Other menu items||Lunch & brunch menu with Mediterranean influences, dessert options|
|Nearby sights||Muséum de Toulouse|
Le Café Cerise
On the banks of the Garonne river is Le Café Cerise, also close to the famous Quai de la Daurade riverside district. Founded by couple Valentin Tihy and Stéphanie Mirouse-Tihy, the specialty coffee shop first opened in 2015. Two years later, they developed a built-in roasting space to roast their own coffee and host workshops.
“Our goal is to [express] the terroir of our coffees,” Valentin explains. “We want to show our customers that each coffee [has its own unique complex flavour profile], depending on the variety, the producer, and the environment in which it’s grown.”
One of the most eye-catching features of Le Café Cerise is the range of coffees on offer, including a pour over coffee from Finca La Chumeca in Costa Rica. As for the rest of Le Café Cerise’s menu, there are a number of salads, granola bowls, and sandwich options, as well as freshly baked goods like pastries, cakes, cookies, and pancakes.
From the upstairs seating area, there is also an excellent view of the river.
|Where?||4 Quai de la Daurade, 31000|
|Espresso machines||La Marzocco G85|
|Coffee menu||Espresso, milk-based beverages, filter coffee (V60 and AeroPress), cold brew|
|Retail||Two Brazilian coffees (one from Daterra), washed Red Bourbon from Rwanda, washed Guatemalan, natural Honduran, brewing equipment|
|Must-try||Brunch & lunch menu|
|Other menu items||Fresh juices and smoothies|
|Nearby sights||La Daurade (main dock on the Garonne river)|
Hayuco Coffee Boutique
Hayuco Coffee Roasters has two locations in Toulouse, but one of the most unique specialty coffee shops in the city is a collaboration between the roaster and Tonsor & Cie, an old-fashioned barber shop.
Hayuco Coffee Roasters was established in 2018 by Karim Boukercha and Carlos Rodriguez, with the goal of driving forward the city’s coffee scene. Hayuco has a range of different coffees, as well as hosting brewing and roasting workshops to help educate customers.
This unique concept store has elements of wood in its interior design, which helps to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
|Where?||31 Rue Bouquières, 31000 and 1 Rue de Périgord, 31000|
|Grinders||Victoria Arduino Mythos One, Mahlkönig EK43, Timemore hand grinder|
|Coffee menu||Espresso, milk-based beverages, filter coffee (V60)|
|Retail||Washed Colombian, anaerobic natural from Finca Russilandia, brewing equipment|
|Other menu items||Cascara tea|
|Nearby sights||Musée des Augustins, Quai de la Daurade|
LoMa Pâtisserie is an artisan pastry shop that first opened its doors in June 2019. It’s also located in Les Carmes, and is well known for its simple, yet delicious, local produce on the menu. Their chocolatine (or pain au chocolat) has been voted the best in the city.
The owners, Lolita and Mathieu Champagne, previously opened a coffee shop in Ecuador, before they decided to relocate to Toulouse. They prepare all of their food items in the café, including artisan pastries, desserts, pizza, and sandwiches.
LoMa Pâtisserie uses locally roasted coffee from Hayuco and Le Café Cerise.
|Where?||3 Rue de la Fonderie, 31000|
|Espresso machines||Nuova Simonelli|
|Coffee menu||Espresso, milk-based beverages, iced coffees|
|Must-try||Shakerato, homemade affogato|
|Other menu items||Seasonal pastries, including coconut chocolatine|
|Nearby sights||Place du Salin market square, Notre-Dame de la Dalbade|
Café La Fiancée
Close to the Quartier de la Daurade is Café La Fiancée, which was opened in 2012 by longtime friends Olivier Coulomb and Arnaud Pimenta. The two owners shared the same goal of elevating Toulouse’s specialty coffee scene. There is also a second location in Marseille, which opened in 2018.
Café La Fiancée serves a wide range of coffee, tea, and hot drinks, with coffee roasted by Coutume Café in Paris. As well as beverages, the coffee shop has a variety of cakes, pastries, and sandwiches, with a rotating weekly seasonal brunch menu that uses locally-sourced produce.
Alongside its terrace seating area, Café La Fiancée has large bay windows and a cosy interior design.
|Where?||54 Rue Peyrolières, 31000|
|Espresso machines||Kees van der Westen Mirage|
|Coffee menu||Espresso, milk-based beverages, iced coffees, filter (V60)|
|Must-try||Iced latte and homemade orangeade|
|Other menu items||Brunch menu|
|Nearby sights||Place du Capitole, Quai de la Garonne, Notre-Dame de la Daurade|
How is the Toulouse specialty coffee scene evolving?
Loïc Duban is a barista at Le Café Cerise. He explains that specialty coffee culture is still relatively new to France, and that traditional café culture prevails in most parts of the country.
“It is still difficult for us to educate French people on specialty coffee because they are so used to classic European, Italian-style coffee culture,” he says. “But we’ve seen huge growth in the community and increasing interest in specialty coffee over the past few years.”
He adds: “Since the pandemic, people have started to think differently [about food and beverage quality], so they want better products.”
In particular, there has been growing interest in French specialty coffee culture from younger generations. In Toulouse particularly, the specialty coffee scene has been growing quickly, thanks to the skilled and dedicated baristas, coffee shop owners, and roasters in the city.
Toulouse’s specialty coffee scene may not be on par with other French cities like Paris or Bordeaux, but there are still many third wave coffee shops in the city, all with a focus on improving the quality of coffee on offer.
As well as this, there is a unique sense of community that exists not only among baristas, roasters, and customers, but also between the coffee shops themselves.
There’s no doubt that in the future, Toulouse’s specialty coffee shop market will continue to grow. However, it’s unclear as yet just how quickly it will evolve – even if it is evident that there is space for further innovation and expansion.
Enjoyed this? Then read our specialty coffee shop tour of Lisbon, Portugal.
Photo credits: Vasileia Fanarioti, LoMa Pâtisserie, Hayuco Coffee Roasters, Loïc Duban, La Fiancée, Neroli Coffee Society
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