The Paris Insider: Nicolas Clerc, Télescope Café

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Just off the Jardin du Palais Royal tucked in behind the backstreets of Rue Saint Honoré, on the tranquil rue de Villedo, you are likely to hear some jazz music, smell the aroma of beautiful coffee, and see some Parisiens sitting by an open grand window or on a bench outside sipping coffee. This is the effect of ‘Télescope Café’. The coolest little café, resembling a café you would expect to find in New York or Oslo. It’s high on many levels: the coffee, the location, the history. Unique on others: the blue saucers, the Saturday morning workshops, and the unique atmosphere that opens out on the street. Télescope Café – is the essential place for a café pause.

I recently caught up with founders Nicolas Clerc & David Flynn to find out how they have become invaded with owls, how they are re-discovering coffee in Paris and sharing some inside tips on great coffee at home.

TP) What inspired the concept of Télescope?

Focusing on coffee, it’s shamefully been lost in Paris…but we look towards New York, Oslo, London. There they are finding amazing flavors with coffee. We’re working on our style.

TP) How would you describe the adventure so far?

It’s been really great. Expats found what they were missing, I guess? And the french audience “discovers” coffee. Especially with filter, it’s striking to see people`s eyes, like they are re-discovering something they’ve lost a long time ago.

TP) What coffee are you serving this week?

We have our Guatemalan Hunapu on espresso, the Guamo on filter, and this month`s guest coffee is a Yirgacheffe from Coffee Nation in Antwerp.

TP) Where do you source your coffee?

That’s one of our issues in France, so we source from UK and Norway.

TP) Do you have a favourite blend?

We started with a blend of 75% Colombian and 25% Bolivian, it was a very nice wedding.

TP) Like the Italians, do you recommend a certain coffee drink for a certain time of day?

We all have our own coffee moments… personally I’m very much into filter in the morning, and espresso after lunch.

TP) What coffee/drink is the most popular chez Télescope?

It’s drip coffee. Isn’t it surprising?! However, cappuccino is a good silver medal.

TP) Tell us about the owls?

Oh, it’s a funny story! Our designer found, after long thoughts, that the best symbol for Télescope was an owl. (As it looks at night). We liked the myth that goes with this bird. Then people considered we loved owls so offered us every owl they could find. Customers would say “oh you have a collection”, I’ll try to find some more for you”…and we’re now invaded ! However, we cherish each and every one of them as they all have a unique story. The owls turned out to be symbolic of our special relations with our customers.

TP) Love the style and decor in the café, particularly the lighting and the blue coffee cups – what inspired the decor and where did it come from? Any hidden gems to share with us?

The décor was based on a “no decor”. We didn’t want to try to imitate, or create, something that didn’t exist. So we focused on keeping the soul of this place, ( it used to be a carpet refitter ). We loved the craft that happened here. So we kept the impact that time had on the walls and wooden ceiling. The lamps probably remind me of what was in the café decades ago. The blue cups were just to be different than the white cups…a kind of “warning, this is different”.

TP) Top tips for making good coffee at home?

  1.  Use Volvic H20
  2. Good fresh coffee beans ( available to buy from Télescope )
  3.  Freshly grind coffee before making
  4.  Grind coffee according to machine (fine for espresso, medium ground for filter etc)
  5.  Measure coffee to water (60g per litre)
  6.  Heat coffee cups and equipment before use
  7.  And the joy of making coffee improves its taste
Télescope Café, 5 Rue Villedo, 75001, Paris


  1. Telescope definitely reminded me that filter coffee can be very good if it’s made well! Wouldn’t have touched anything other than an expresso for years and now I’ve gone old school again 🙂 J

  2. Thanks for the great article! Telescope is a real gem and I’ve become a huge fan since they opened (conveniently around the corner from my house.)

    One question – the recipe for making coffee at home is interesting, but why specifically do we need to use Volvic water instead of other bottled water? Thanks

      • dear Alex, we’d better use Volvic for it’s low particles content (or TDS, Total Disolved Solids), to make it easy, the less magnesium, calsium, potasium in your water, the more able to load coffee particles…and Volvic is one of the softest water. it’s interesting to do the same recipe with tap vs Volvic…you’ll tell me.

  3. I will be visiting Paris from London soon, and cannot wait to check this place out! Question, do they recommend any particular coffee making machine’s for making filter coffee at home?

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