Brittany, France—once completely off the radar for coffee lovers—has seen its specialty scene grow exponentially in recent years. Here’s a short list of cool Breton cafés.
BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Featured photo by Baptiste MEREL via Unsplash
Brittany, the northwestern region of France, is famous for many gastronomic specialties. This includes crepes and galettes (a delicious savory crepe traditionally prepared with buckwheat), caramel au beurre sale (the traditional salted caramel, used in desserts), and artisan cider.
But until a few years ago, Brittany certainly wasn’t regarded for its specialty-coffee scene. Luckily, as has happened in many other areas of the world, things are changing quickly. Now it’s possible to find cafés and roasters even in the smallest cities.
This is just a short list of local specialty cafés, plus a true hidden gem: a unique teahouse located in a boat.
BEAJ Kafe, Brest
Probably one of the oldest Breton specialty-coffee businesses, BEAJ Kafe was founded at the end of 2014 by Romain Guerizec, who after years spent studying abroad, decided to return home and found his own café.
After all, during all those years as a student, Romain had visited many cafés, falling in love with the wonderful world of specialty coffee: It was such a good experience that he wanted to give the local student community a chance to do the same, creating a lovely café in the heart of Brest.
It has become a meeting point for students, tourists, and expats alike. BEAJ (now also a roaster) perfectly reflects its own name: beaj means ”journey” in Breton. And that’s what the café really is: a common ground where people come, often after a long journey, to share and enjoy a good cup of coffee.
Le Café Qui Fume, Auray
A specialty-coffee roaster, cozy café with sofas and armchairs, retail shop for everything coffee-related (from small home brewers to professional espresso machines), teahouse, delicatessen shop, training center—Le Café Qui Fume is all of this and much more.
Opened in 2016 by Nolwenn and her husband, Julien—both roasters and baristas—the coffee shop is located on a quiet street in central Auray, in southern Brittany.
From here the couple has been able to create a small community of coffee lovers, supplying roasted beans to local cafés, aficionados, and coffee shops in the whole region.
Café 1802, Rennes
Imagine one of the characteristic half-timbered Breton houses: quite old, pastel-colored, with granite stone walls, a low ceiling, and wooden beams. Inside, an old staircase leads to the first floor, where a fireplace sits alongside old chairs and sofas.
From the outside, you can imagine it houses an old library, a vintage hotel, or the home of a sweet old lady. But, as Café 1802 demonstrates, it can also be the perfect location for a charming coffee shop.
The café was opened in 2017 in central Rennes by longtime friends Fred (the barista) and Renaud (the roaster). Thanks to the help of an amazing little team, Café 1802 in just a few years has become a go-to for the small local specialty-coffee community.
Opened in January 2023, Folks is the new kid on the block. Sitting in a charming hidden square in the center of Quimper, the café is Annabelle Bouder’s dream come true. After moving to Dublin to practice her English, Annabelle found work in one of the best Irish coffee roasters. There she brewed 600 coffees per day, learning everything she could about the magical world of specialty coffee.
After six years abroad, Anabelle returned to Brittany. After working in some coffee shops in Rennes, it was time to open her own space, right in the heart of Quimper. Here, she offers a simple and tasty menu made with locally sourced ingredients, and coffees roasted by her friends at Café 1802.
Fleur des Thés, Argenton
Among the many fishing boats that sit in the port of Argenton, a small village in the wild Finistère region, there’s one that hasn’t weighed anchor for more than two decades.
Officially named “Fleur des Thés”, this 1977 fishing boat has been in port since 2005. Marie-Claude Merceur, with the help of her husband, André (a former officer in the merchant navy), converted the boat into an atypical tearoom.
After two decades of service, the cozy boat/tearoom has become the meeting place for tea lovers in the region. Romantic souls spend long afternoons here, often taking shelter from the stormy Breton sky.
Already a point of reference for the local community, the tearoom went up for sale in the spring of last year. Marie-Claude decided it was finally time to retire.
After months of searching, Marie-Claude has finally found a couple of worthy successors in Crystel and Pierre-Yves Barra. Restaurant professionals for more than 15 years—he in the dining room and she in the kitchen—they really had no intention to settle down. Then they saw it on TV: a certain lovely little teahouse for sale … and the rest is history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.