Meet Cathy from Ibrik

What is an ibrik ?

I was born in Bucarest in Romania. For us, an ibrik is a small coffee pot made of copper. It’s got a very peculiar shape which allows you to keep the ground coffee at the bottom, so you avoid having too much of it in your cup when it’s poured. This method was established by the Turks in the 16th to 17th centuries, at the time of the Ottoman empire. The Turks call this little pot a cezve.

Was it always your dream to own a coffee shop? 

The idea was the result of two very important events in my life. First, my love for coffee that I inherited from my grandmother, who was a colourful character. She was the one who taught me how to make ibrik coffee. I remember the long days spent chatting at her home in Bucharest, with the smell of the coffee cooking in her ibrik, which I still keep. It’s my “Proust’s madeleine” (laughs). The second event was when I was first introduced to specialty coffee. I will always remember the first real espresso I drank at Coutume Café. It was such a revelation. Then, when the time was right, I decided to take the plunge and build my own business with Ruba Khoury, the chef. I completely changed lives: I went from working in finance to becoming an entrepreneur. I earn a lot less money now, but I am more fulfilled and much happier.

Could you tell us a bit about the concept behind Ibrik?

The concept came from travelling a lot, living in Greece for more than a year and in Romania for part of my childhood. My meeting with Ruba was decisive. She was born and grew up in Dubai and is of Palestinian origin. Our cultures are very similar, we are Orientals. The resemblance between our cultures, between the countries of the East and the Balkans, is due to the fact that our countries were part of the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years. We have common roots both in our eating habits and in our world views. This oriental culture that we carry with us is present at Ibrik.

What are your main objectives?

Paris has welcomed us. We are slowly creating a community of  ‘ibriklovers’ as we like to call them. It’s a small family that keeps growing every day. It takes time, but it is a wonderful adventure. We are able to express ourselves; Ruba with her cooking and I with my coffee.

Our goal is to help people rediscover the pleasure of taking time. We live in a strange society where everything goes fast. Sometimes too fast. So our goal is to advocate slowness. Besides, I keep saying that it takes me about ten minutes to prepare an ibrik, and you also need to take some time to taste the coffee. We have only just opened so for now we’re just focusing on the present but, who knows, why not open a second establishment in the future?

Ibrik is situated in a small street in the 9th arrondissement. How does it contribute to the neighbourhood’s character?

Ruba and I were surprised by how well we were welcomed in the neighbourhood. It’s been so positive! The mayor of the 9th arrondissement wrote to congratulate us on our work and on the “crossroads between the West and the East” we have created. People encourage us, they like Ibrik, and that’s priceless. I believe that small businesses have a central role in a neighbourhood. They are full of life and bring people together. They are meeting places that contribute to improving the quality of life in the area. I often see people who don’t know each other start a conversation, and this gives me great pleasure because it was part of what I was looking forward to when I started Ibrik. I live in a neighbourhood with few shops and I can tell you, life isn’t as good there.

What’s the most difficult part of starting your own business and what’s the best?

If you want to start a business, first of all, it’s important to know what you’re good and not so good at, and to admit that you can’t do everything on your own. In my case, I was very well accompanied in the project. I had help from an accountant, a lawyer, a banker, an architect, an artistic director, etc. I delegated everything I couldn’t do myself, which allowed me to save precious time and avoid mistakes that can be very costly. The difficult part for any entrepreneur in France is the different stages you have to go through. You have to do things in a very precise order, which can be quite alarming. You have to find a venue and commit to it before you have the bank credits. It’s frightening to commit to such large sums of money before having the bank’s approval, but that’s how it works in France. There are, of course, legal safeguards protecting you in the case of the bank’s refusal.

The best part for me was the day of the opening, even if I confess that it’s a very stressful moment because you’re worrying about people liking your idea and trusting you.

Why are independent businesses like Ibrik important?

They are important for at least three reasons. Firstly, because they are lively places for meeting and sharing with others. Secondly, because small businesses are the biggest recruiters in France. We create jobs that, in general, are not precarious and guarantee good quality work. And finally, because they create the social fabric of a community.


Fresssco

Italy’s culinary achievements are for the most part undisputed, however café culture is not something to which it usually subscribes. A quick espresso knocked back with a countertop pastry has an efficient charm, but sometimes a more languorous, healthy experience is desired. Scatter cushions, laptop plug points, background music and fresh fruit smoothies continue to pull those of us trying to find a more aesthetic alternative to the office or library. With two locations across the city, Fresssco offers just that.

Juices are made and bottled each morning, smoothies blitzed to order from the fresh whole fruit piled beneath the counter and the classic health food selection of chia pots and granola tubs line the fridge display. In Bristol or London this would be nothing new, but in central Italy it smacks of sweet relief. An oat milk cappuccino satiates those millennial dairy-free cravings, while a (pleasingly banana-free) fresh peach and summer berry smoothie reinvigorates the work-weary brain and makes the most of the seasonal glut of stone-fruit.

Service is for the most part friendly and accommodating, offering helpful recommendations when called for and showing equal welcome to those grabbing a quick take out as to the sit-in laptop slaves among us. There appears to be the occasional change of staff ‘off-day’, but this sinks no lower than a slightly wearying lack of enthusiasm in comparison with the usually animated rapport.

Upstairs, (Via del Sole outpost) a floor-level arched window offers a sneaky viewing platform onto the city’s main square. Low, bench-like seating lines the walls, complete with a suitably ridiculous selection of cushions. Shoes can be kicked off, free WIFI switched on and hours passed in a relaxed atmosphere of calm productivity. In the land of ‘down it and run’ caffeine consumption, Fresssco provides a welcome alternative.


https://fresssco.com/

Via del Sole, 2
Perugia, Umbria

+39 075 573 4180


Photos by Pippa Cole


Copenhagen Coffee Lab

Tucked away in the hilly streets of the up-and-coming area of Praça das Flores, you can find a little piece of Denmark. Opened in 2014 by twins Helle and Susan Jacobsen, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is the Lisbon-based offshoot of the Danish artisan coffee roaster of the same name. Furnished in a classically clean and tidy Scandinavian style, step inside for a great place to relax or do some work.

Lisbon can often be a tricky place to be find a good coffee, as they generally opt for a dark-roasted, Robusta-based blend. But these aren’t your everyday beans. The Copenhagen roastery comes with the recommendation of the head chef of Noma, the world’s best restaurant. The Lisbon café is a coffee lover’s heaven – various contraptions for getting your caffeine fix line the shelves and windowsills, alongside packets of the House Blend (€12). After all, the place is a lab – each cup of coffee, whether filter, aeropress, cold brew or espresso is meticulously prepared by the team. And it’s worth the wait – the Brazilian blend that I tried (flat white, €3.20) is one of the best cups of coffee the city has to offer.

But there’s more to this spot than just the coffee. On a warm Lisbon afternoon, head in for one of their iced teas (€2.50) which they brew throughout the day and filter into your glass. There’s a good range of food too. As well as a variety of salads, there’s also a well-priced breakfast menu (€6.50) including yoghurt and granola, rye bread with jam and Danish butter, and any hot drink. The perfect pairing for your coffee has to be a slice of their dangerously delicious homemade chocolate mousse cake (€2.50, see above), though an honourable mention must be made to the white chocolate pastry.

Even if it’s on the more expensive end of the Lisbon price range, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is definitely worth a visit next time you’re in the area.


http://cphcoffeelab.pt/?lang=en_gb

R. Nova da Piedade 10,

1200-298

Lisboa,

Portugal

+351 916 604 054


Tradewind Espresso

Whitewashed walls, hotchpotch furnishings and a counter teaming with dainty almond friands and hefty carrot cakes, Tradewind Espresso is an instagrammer’s dream. Occupying just a small footprint at the upper end of Whiteladies Road, with a little nifty design, owners Patrick and Tahi host seating for around 20 sippers and slurpers inside and another dozen or so in their wood-clad hidden garden.

Set up in September 2015 and business relation to Roasted Rituals, the Hengrove-based roastery, coffee is at the centre of this independent venture. With V60 filter methods and no paper French Press, you would be forgiven for feeling this is all a little too ‘on-trend’. Fear not, high chairs and local businessmen sit alongside the monochrome ‘straight out of Shoreditch’. Both beautiful and welcoming, this is style with substance.

Behind the perfectly scattered cushions and chunky wooden tables lies an unadulterated dedication to quality, the perfectly balanced coffee clearly benefits from their direct connection to source. Custom blends and single origin roasts vary on rotation, but you can be sure to rely on Highground, the house espresso blend offered year-round for its weight and complexity, versatile enough be supped alone or as part of a milkier creation.

Though their caffeinated offerings sit centre stage, the imaginative all-day brunch menu (available until 3pm) threatens to steal the show. Almost compulsory in Bristol these days, produce is sourced with attention to locality and seasonality, and everything that can be is made in house – nut milks, chutneys and cakes included. Sweet caramelised onions sit atop a pillowy soft rosemary focaccia, generously dolloped with peppery rocket pesto, spicy chorizo and oozy poached eggs (£9); an accomplished French toast (using house made brioche) provides the perfect sticky vehicle for cinnamon roast pears, a not overly sweet blackberry compote, creamy mascarpone and crunchy toasted buckwheat (£8); meanwhile the traditional Full English is lifted with smoky baked beans, wilted spring greens and slow roasted tomato.

With a well-priced menu of this calibre, Tradewind Espresso has firmly asserted its place on the teeming Bristol café scene.


www.tradewindespresso.com
118 Whiteladies Road
Bristol
BS8 2RP
0117 974 3477


Photos by Tradewind Espresso


KB Café

KB Café (formally Kooka Boora Café) is positioned in the perfect place; it is just next to the Sacré-Coeur, but on the side where none of the tourists would think to go. Escaping the crowd, you find yourself in a tree-lined sloping Parisian square, with the crest of the basilica peeping out between trees and apartment blocks in the near-distance.

Sitting outside on one of the rustic wooden chairs, you can look down the lovely high-street of South Pigalle, lined with cutesy cafés, specialist gourmet food shops, bars and florists. This is not only a good location but also one of the most highly-respected coffee institutes of Paris, attracting Parisian coffee connoisseurs and foreign coffee explorers alike.

Each day there is a different, delicious ‘filtre du jour’, sometimes more traditional and other times an exotic blend with a distinct and unusual flavour. If coffee is not your thing, or you’re just not in the mood, they also offer a range of fresh, colourful fruit juices and smoothies, all at much lower prices than any of the cafés and bars positioned nearer to the Sacre-Coeur, along the typical tourist’s path.

It’s not just the coffee that really sets this place apart but also the food – quiches, soups, cakes, biscuits, toast and much more, all made on the premises by the chef Julie. This is the perfect place to relax and escape the masses after a trip to the Sacre-Coeur, a genuine little treasure where you can sit amongst the locals.


https://www.facebook.com/CafeShopSouthPigalle/

53 Avenue Trudaine
75009 Paris
France
+33 1 56 92 12 41


Brew

For the ultimate bohemian brunch, this is where you need to be. Replacing that café that no one really new the name of, Brew has made a name for itself simply on the quality of its toasted bread. (Something they do with a honey dressing I am lead to believe….)

They offer a selection of lunch/ brunch options at an affordable price. You can expect to pay around £7.50 for their take on an English breakfast – ‘Brewfast’ or even ‘Vegfast’ for the veggies amongst you. It is an order at the counter kind of place, which makes it that rather bit difficult if you think you’ve made up your mind before you reach the till. While waiting in the fairly speedy queue there is a selection of colourful, homemade salads, sandwiches, wraps and cakes to cause the fickle part of you a bit of a palaver.

Like many similar places, Brew café prides itself on using locally sourced produce. They have used numerous local suppliers and up-cycling methods in their shop design, and above all want their principle is to ‘be independent’.

It’s not a big place and can get quite busy in winter, without the outdoor seating on the decking. However, everything is fresh, made in house and the coffee is v. good. Struggling to find anywhere else in the university area that competes on taste or price, this place will be witnessing more than just one return visit.


brewcoffeecompany.co.uk

45 Whiteladies Road
BS8 2LS
Bristol
+44 117 973 2842


Strada Café

I’m sitting in Strada (not the English chain of Italian restaurants, don’t worry). I feel… warm. It’s a grey autumn day, and the windows of this tiny café are all steamed up. Every table is full, of people on first dates, on working dates or on lunch dates.

The leather booth is very comfortable. Having been sat here on our laptop for two hours on one coffee each, no one has given us the subtle hint to order more or get out. That ticks a box. So, reverse psychology in action, I decide to order lunch. The aesthetically pleasing French guy behind the counter is very chatty. Another box ticked. 

Ten minutes later (tick efficiency box) I’m munching on some mouth-watering sourdough toast, covered in chicken, Parmesan-style cheese and sundried tomatoes. This is served with a very refreshing bowl of tomato gaspacho, and some herb and red onion-speckled taboulé. Topped off with a drink of my choice, I’m satisfied that €14 isn’t at all bad for a filling lunch in the heart of the Marais. Later on, the two of us share a hefty slice of banana, chocolate and walnut cake. We leave Strada veritably complete.

On top of the tasty food and friendly staff, there were three things I very much liked about this little dwelling. 1) The big, bold writing on the windows. It reminded me of a 1980s East London caff – or at least how I imagine a 1980s East London caff to be. Sadly I’ve never seen one. 2) The art on the walls for sale. Like lots of small cafés, they curate exhibitions and hold viewing evenings. 3) The toilet was in a separate outbuilding. Going out the backdoor, crossing a Marais alleyway, and sitting on the grubby toilet, forget 1980s, I felt very 1950s. I love anything that allows me to pretend I’m in a different era. I’ve probably watched too much Woody Allen. But thanks to this enjoyable, food enticing experience, Strada Café, I will definitely be back.


www.stradacafe.fr

94 Rue du Temple
75003 Paris
+33 1 44 61 09 28