STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International

Volume 4, Number 6

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52 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 6, 2015 (December/January) I By Anne-Marie Hardie Café Richard coffee bar Café Richard (Compoirs Richard) espresso bar in Cherche, Midi, France A New Appreciation of Coffee Gastronomy in Western Europe n spite of their shared borders, the coffee practices and culture of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands are very different. The Netherlands is perhaps the most progressive of the three. There the spe- cialty coffee scene is evolving fairly rapidly. At the other end of the timeline is France, which is slowly warming to the possibility of introducing specialty coffee into their rich but thoroughly traditional café culture. Belgium has taken a middle ground, with resi- dents adapting and evolving as retailers make them aware of coffee's enormous variety. France: A new coffee gastronomy Fine wine, baguettes, and the Parisian café. It seems ironic that the country that is known for gastronomy has a reputation for serving some of the worst coffee. Strongly influenced by Italy's espresso culture, French coffee drinkers are accustomed to darker roasts and over extracted coffee, making the shift to specialty brews a slow one. "Coffee for us is a total tradition, it's rooted in our culture," said Michael McCau- ley, quality and product development director, Cafés Richard. London expat, Channa Galhenage, who recently opened the Loustic Café in Paris, was originally mystified by how a country known for its gastronomy and interest in terroir, continues to take their coffee like medicine. It is this rich tradition that has caused some resistance in adopting specialty coffee. Despite this resistance, there is an emerging cadre of customers who want more from their coffee and their café experience. This can be seen by the positive reception of single serve and the growth in coffee outlets such as Starbucks, Colombus, and Costa Café. "French cafes are wonderful to sit and people watch, but unless you're eating, it's off you go," said Jeffrey Young, managing director, Allegra Group. "So young people don't feel like it's a place to study, a place to hang out with friends. Starbucks and the other coffee outlets are filling this need," according to Young. Single serve paves the way for quality coffee According to Euromonitor's Coffee In France Report (2015), Nestlé France maintained its lead in coffee in 2014 with a 32% off-trade value share. Offering a large range of products, Nestle has responded to the needs of the French consumer.

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