Hidden away in an unfashionable part of the 18th arrondissement, Lomi opened in October 2012. From the outside, this looks like a bland modern building, but Lomi’s architect has transformed a basic concrete space into a cool café that resembles an abandoned warehouse with rusty metal girders, peeling paint on the walls, simple wooden tables and old leather couches. The café has already attracted a strong local following, with a colourful mix of mums and babies, building workers and students hunched over laptops, local businessmen and coffee fanatics making a pilgrimage: Lomi is also renowned in the coffee fraternity for its roasting. For a change, there are more women than men behind the bar, with a lady barista and a Japanese patisserie chef who trained at William Ledeuil’s Ze Kitchen Gallery restaurant.
They prepare sandwiches, salads and quiches throughout the day, and although there isn’t a breakfast menu yet, they are already well known for their scones, chocolate cake and cheesecake. At the back of the café you can see a glass-walled laboratory filled with weird-looking coffee machines, filters and grinders. This is where Lomi test their prospective coffee beans, and out of sight is a vast coffee roaster and sacks of beans from as far afield as Salvador, Brazil and Ethiopia. Lomi is one of an increasing number of Franco-Australian collaborations, owned by Aleaume Paturle, who picked up the coffee bug making espressos in San Diego, and Aussie barista Paul Arnephy, who won the Latte Art award for best artistic use of milk in coffee designs. Both travel extensively to visit coffee plantations and follow the seasonal harvests, importing beans from around 20 countries.