The biggest obstacles that any Paris coffee entrepreneur has encountered are the questions of space and price. Big cities can mean big investments, and for a small business just starting out, that can be a hard pill to swallow, and in a city like Paris, even if you have the capital, finding a large space isn’t always easy.
And if we are talking about space, then we also have to talk about all the unused space. Bars, restaurants, cafes—few of them are open from early in the morning to late in the evening, meaning that there are plenty of spaces in big cities like Paris that could be taken advantage of. That’s exactly what O Coffeeshop has done.
A small pop-up cafe housed in the bar La Conserverie, O Coffeshop is open to serve the morning coffee crowd. Later in the day, a chef comes in and opens up a restaurant with lunch service, and later in the evening, it’s bar time. Three businesses all sharing one space. The idea in Paris is novel, but in this kind of city, it’s smart, allowing entrepreneurs to maximize on space and money.
O Coffeeshop is the operation of Timothée Teyssier, who has always worked in the restaurant world. In fact, he was the bartender at La Conserverie when it opened in 2009. He eventually took off to explore Australia for a year, landing in Sydney for a few months, then finding his true place in Byron Bay. As has happened to many a coffee entrepreneur in Paris, Teyssier was bitten by the Australian coffee bug, and when he returned he went to work at KBCafeshop.
Wanting to launch his own coffee project, he was intrigued by the idea of doing a mobile coffee system, and in brainstorming with the team at La Conserverie, they decided that it would be interesting to see if coffee could work in the bar. “We wanted to do something nice,” says Teyssier, but “not just put someone behind the bar [serving coffee].” They wanted to find a creative way to serve coffee in the bar, and a mobile coffee station was it.
Teyssier worked with Belleville Machine to build out the mobile coffee bar. While Teyssier runs a more permanent coffee service in La Conserverie, the whole bar folds down and can attach to the back of the official O Coffeeshop bicycle, which allows him to take it to events. As long as there is electricity to run the coffee machine of course.
“The importance was to create a customer base,” says Teyssier of his choice to have a permanent service in La Conserverie, where he builds a devoted following, and then expands out with more mobile coffee and pop-up events. Open every morning from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., until he folds up his coffee bar and stores it in La Conserverie’s basement, he has access to the morning crowd of people who live and work in the neighborhood. This part of town is full of office buildings and spaces, so 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the morning is the busy time. Because of the large space, people can also come in and have a meeting over coffee.
The ambiance at La Conserverie makes for a unique background that feels very different than any other coffee shop in town. With vintage velvet chairs and couches, and stuffed animal heads on the walls that make it feel almost like a curiosity shop, it’s the kind of bar that would be perfect for a moody date night. This kind of spaciousness is unheard of at coffee shops around town, and running a business within a business has allowed Teyssier to create a completely different ambiance, both in feel and in size. “To find a big space in Paris is impossible,” says Teyssier.
O Coffeeshop is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and Teyssier points out that he often sees people pass a few times, peeking in to try to figure out what’s going on, before they ever come in and order. There are two Starbucks not to far from O Coffeeshop, which surprisingly, Tessier says has actually helped his business.
“I pick up the people who are curious,” says Teyssier. “I know that when the person has this curiosity, they aren’t going back to Starbucks.” It’s to fuel this curiosity that Teyssier features a different single-origin every month, roasted by Belleville Brûlerie – Paris.
There’s also a chance that they come back for the banana bread, which Teyssier bakes himself every morning and serves toasted. Toasted banana bread? From a cart?
“Once you have it, you’ll never go back,” says Teyssier. I’ve tried it, and he’s absolutely right.
For now, Teyssier is going to hang tight at La Conserverie, but in the future, he’d love to have his own space that would serve as a headquarters for the coffee shop, and then be able to take the bike and mobile coffee setup around town to various destinations and events. But for now, you can sink down in a velvet chair and cheers the mounted antelope head with your morning espresso.
Anna Brones (@annabrones) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Paris, the founder of Foodie Underground, and the co-author of Fika: The Art Of The Swedish Coffee Break, available now from Ten Speed Press. Read more Anna Brones on Sprudge.