I’m unabashedly passionate about cafés. Spend five minutes with me, and you’ll know I thrive on the buzz of a good flat white in the company of perfect strangers. If you live with a pet, you too will know the perpetual distraction of trying to work with soft paws batting at your ankles or walking across your keyboard. Going to a café to write and read transforms the act from a hobby into something a little more serious—I’ve left the siren song of streaming films wrapped in my duvet behind; I’m at The Office. Yet, I’m a practical creature. I don’t like to wander too far from home when toting my Macbook and a legion of books in my bag. Montmartre is home, and thus Montmartre is my favorite place to read and write, a short walk away from Chez Moi. So here it is, a long over-due, completely biased ode to the caffeine watering holes in the neighborhood from Pigalle to Marcadet-Poissoniers.
Oh KB, my first love! Situated on the corner between rue des Martyrs and Avenue Trudaine, KB Caféshop has the perfect view all year long. One of my first apartments was a 12 square meter studio right around the corner, and KB quickly became my living room. I love watching the leaves fall into perfect autumnal heaps, and the sparkling Christmas trees the Mairie de Neuvième arranges in Place Lino Ventura each December. In spring, I watch the new leaves slowly unfurling on the branches, and in summer, the front window stays open and from your seat at the counter, you can feel the sun on your face. Sure, they’re heavily staffed with expats who tend to leave for greener pastures after a year or so, but for a season they become friendly faces who ask how your projects are going. Their dark chocolate brownies are my vice, and their scones remain one of my favorite breakfasts. There’s no wifi on weekends (it becomes absolutely packed), but during the week KB is my favorite place to work—hands down. Moreover, I’ve met so many regulars who’ve slowly morphed into friends.
53 avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris
SyLon is easy to miss. Tucked away on a side street leading up to Abbesses, you have to know it’s there. While it’s not great for soaking up the sun on a nice day, it’s the perfect place to work. The punchy, colorful Wax print cushions add distinct personality, while the vintage door leading to the bathrooms brings out my passion for old-school Paris café designs. While their corner postcard rack is aimed at catering to tourists, I love the idea of sitting down with a coffee and penning a quick card to a friend. I do it all the time, but I’ve always had to bring my stationary with me! Moreover, their chai lattes actually taste right (a feat, for Paris).
4bis rue Piemontesi, 75018 Paris
I have a love-hate relationship with Cuillier. Let’s be real, it’s more like hate-hate. First off, it’s a chain, slightly too expensive, chock-full of tourists, and the wifi is always spotty when I need it most. The staff seems to be on a constant rotation, and I’ve had more than one unpleasant experience with them. On the plus side, they rarely stay there long enough to serve as a true deterrent. That alone should be enough to warn you away. However, I’ve had some of my most focused work sessions sitting at their counter facing the street—because I don’t want to spend all day chained to my laptop there. Moreover, I’ll never run into friends or acquaintances (bye bye distractions!), and they actually have a loyalty stamp card. With the amount of time I spend working with a latte by my side, it’s nice to know they’re going to eventually offer me something in return. Also, to give credit where credit’s due, it is nice that their bathroom isn’t a coffin-style cubicle. Still, I don’t really recommend it unless you’re at the end of your rope.
19 Yvonne le Tac, 75018 Paris
There are plenty of things to rave about here: the woven Parisian café chairs in bright colors, the red and white tiled floors, sparkly spoons for stirring, and the occasional Scottie dog. Café Tabac is undeniably adorable, and situated right next door to an actual Tabac for your chainsmoking Parisian needs. There’s no wifi, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I will admit that I’ve never felt entirely at home here. Maybe it’s the fact that to use the bathroom you have to pass behind the counter, or that I can almost feel the disdain rising from regulars who come to read the newspaper rather than rapidly type up an article, or that the prices are just that tad bit higher…still, I do enjoy those sparkly spoons.
1bis rue Ravignon, 75018 Paris
A newcomer to the quartier, Rue Caulaincourt’s Mignon Café cannot be missed. Walking past its friendly pink lettering, I was initially suspicious. Was this another Cuillier-type hipster café sans soul?! I was delighted to discover that it’s my new favorite place—and just 5 minutes from my apartment. I love their chai latte and their exceptional carrot cake, and I’m already eyeing up the weekend brunch spread posted on their Instagram. Aesthetically, I’m a fan of the teal velvet banquette seating, the exposed brick walls, and artily destroyed floral wallpaper behind the counter. The touches of pink and a happy mix of leafy potted plants and cluster of cacti are just enough without becoming overwhelmingly girly or visually crowded. Moreover, headphones are irrelevant because their playlist is just right! Have they downloaded my vintage grandma style and spliced it together with streamlined minimalism? Yes, and I’m here for it.
67 rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris
Soul Kitchen’s iced coffee is unparalleled—if you like the option of adding American-style sugar syrup rather than trying and failing to dissolve caster sugar into your drink without spilling it all over your table. Learn from my mistakes; skip Starbucks and go to Soul Kitchen. Their daily competitions to win a madeleine cannot be ignored, nor can their exceptional section of loose-leaf teas and delicious, healthy lunches. However, with the menu being such that it is, competition for a table can be fierce. If you’re working on a laptop and plan to stay through the lunch rush, it might be worth it to self-exile yourself at the narrow counter facing the wall. Sure, you’re facing a wall, but it’s better than being asked repeatedly if you’d like to order anything else in the middle of a project. Over time, I’ve come to prefer Soul Kitchen as the locale for a friendly catch-up, rather than a space to get work done.
33 rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris
Can you call Marcadet-Poissoniers Montmartre? At a stretch. Nonetheless, Café Lomi can’t be excluded from this list of neighborhood haunts. I love walking here—20 minutes if I’m fast and more like 30 if I stop to lust over stationary at Atelier Nota on the way. Café Lomi is decidedly more minimalist, but I love their long worktable for freelancers, delicately patterned china, and the chandelier suspended above the bathroom sink. The prices are a touch higher than I’d like, but Lomi roasts their own beans, offers barista training courses, and faces an ever-changing wall of street art, visible through their wall of windows. They also offer artists the chance to exhibit their work framed on the walls inside. A bit farther afield than my other haunts, Lomi also helps for deep focus. Walking there and back serves as my loopy brain break, and when I arrive, it’s time to dive into the task at hand.
3 ter rue Marcadet, 75018 Paris