Climbing the Hills of Marseille In Search of Coffee

We discover the melting pot of Marseille, and the wonderful coffee it has to offer.

BY MICHAELA TOMCHEK
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Photos by Michaela Tomchek

The old streets of Marseille are filled with culture, history, bustling cafés, and bars. As the oldest city in France, founded by the Greeks, you will see many different religions, peoples, and food in this eccentric city. Situated on the Mediterranean Sea in Provence, this is truly the melting pot between the Iberian peninsula and North Africa, known as the gateway to the Orient. The air is warm here in the summer but cools as you near the sea.

Coffee here is quite unique. There are classic French spots with plenty of espresso, patisseries, and boulangeries. But there are also many Algerian or Tunisian-styled cafés, with spicy food served alongside small cups of coffee.

Walking through the tall and stunning buildings, I was quite pleased with the coffee shops I discovered.

Eclectique serves beer along with specialty coffee from local roasters.

Eclectique

My first stop in the blistering heat of summer was Eclectique—a coffee and beer shop located in Réformés. Situated just in front of a tram stop, this lovely café was a perfect start to my time in Marseille.

On a cobbled patio, people sip on coffee, read, catch up, and smoke—a true French experience. Inside, as you order, a kind barista wishes you “salut“ and a handwritten menu greets you. During the summer, anything iced is preferred, and the espresso is sublime. Local roasters are used here such as La Tisserie from Marseille.

Not only that, but they also have a selection of pastries, a small food menu, and plenty of beer for later in the day. The interior is filled with beautiful art and preserved rustic walls. Sitting outside is a dream, drinking your coffee as the breeze from the sea comes through the trees.

Inside Pétrin Couchette, enjoy fresh baked goods like sourdough bread and coffee from roasters throughout Europe.

Pétrin Couchette

I strolled to Pétrin Couchette on the Cours Saint Louis. What a pleasurable spot to visit—the bright yellow sign, the happy team welcoming you with “çava“ as the scent of baking bread encircles you. The trio of Julia Mitton, Harry Cummins and Laura Vidal took over the beautiful space to create a bakery, after years of experience with other pop-ups throughout France. They opened their doors in April of 2022, specializing in sourdough bread and excellent coffee. Pétrin Couchette literally translates to “kneader sleeper.“

Here, you can buy your baked goods and indulge in a treasure-filled cookie whilst sipping on a coffee from various prestigious roasters throughout Europe, such as The Barn from Berlin. Sit outside on the terrace, tucked away from the busy La Canebière, just near the port filled with sailboats and the glistening Mediterranean Sea.

Ben Mouture is run by Benoit Roch, who roasts his own coffee.

Ben Mouture

As you snake your way through the port, watching the boats cruise by, you may catch a glimpse of Notre-Dame de la Garde on its high hilltop watching over the city. Down a hidden street is Ben Mouture, a quaint specialty café that opened its doors in an old cellar in 2021 on the Rue Petit Chantier. The shop is a passion-project, run by Benoit Roch, who offers his own roasted coffee, served as espresso or filter. Additionally, there is a beautiful food menu. The space is quaint and peaceful, hidden and carefully crafted to provide you with a pleasurable coffee experience.

Benoit believes that Marseille was once a city rich with coffee culture and that through small roasters that this type of culture can be restored to the city. Sip on your coffee outside, in the comfy stone den, surrounded by cushions, as Benoit brews away.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Michaela Tomchek finds coffee an important part of life and the world. She is an appreciator of the crop, the producer, and the many cafés throughout the world serving beautiful beverages. Currently, she writes about coffee, hoping to spread her joy across the globe. 

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