Coffee and beer are not unlikely bedfellows in the US, but within France they’re a rarer pair. In the suburbs outside Paris, however, they’ve been a heavenly match ever since Anselme Blayney of craft coffee house Ten Belles installed his artisanal coffee roasting operations on the floor of Thomas Deck’s craft brewery Deck & Donohue.
Both Deck and Blayney have long been at the forefront of the artisanal food revolution in Paris. Deck launched one of Paris’ premier craft breweries in 2014, bringing quality beer to a city obsessed with wine. Meanwhile, Blayney and his business partners Anna Trattles and Alice Quillet (the latter also his wife) opened the first Ten Belles coffee house and bakery almost eight years ago, with a focus on quality filter coffee and sourdough bread in a country that runs on espresso and baguettes.
For years, Ten Belles sourced its coffee from craft roastery Belleville Brûlerie, which Blayney helped to launch in 2013 before parting ways with the other founders. But soon, Blayney wanted to begin producing his own brew—and that meant he needed a space to store his state-of-the-art Loring roaster. For that, he tapped longtime friend Deck.
“I called Thomas and asked him if he could babysit the machine while we found a space for her,” says Blayney. “And then, one day, one of Thomas’ employees called to say there was this truck with a huge box for Anselme.”
Both friends laugh at the memory.
“When I saw her in the space,” says Blayney, “I don’t know, something just clicked.”
“At first, it was almost a joke,” says Deck. “And then the more we thought about it, the more sense it made.”
“It’s like a marriage,” says Blayney.
“Yeah,” quips Deck. “You have to respect each other!”
Jabs aside, the “marriage” seems to be going well. Being in the same space naturally allows the friends to imagine collaboration: beers infused with coffee; coffee beans aged in beer barrels. Add to the mix Ten Belles bread—baked by Blayney’s wife, head baker Quillet—and things get really interesting.
“We made some really good bread with his beer; he made some really good beer with our bread,” says Blayney. “We even tried using his beer dregs to make cakes.”
The only thing that keeps them from trying every idea under the sun is another shared passion: the environment.
Independently of one another, Blayney and Deck have both made strides in reducing their respective carbon footprints. Blayney is attempting to go bagless, even if it means that his product cannot be preserved for long periods of time, a tradeoff he thinks is “well worth it.” Deck, meanwhile, is taking active steps to reduce the brewery’s water usage, and since 2019, all of his beers are certified organic.
Their shared interest in ecology has led them to some of their most fruitful collaborations. Seeing as the two work with similar clients, Blayney can piggyback on Deck’s existing deliveries within the capital. And in cooperation with Le Saint-Sébastien, the restaurant owned and managed by Deck’s wife Daniela Lavadenz, the businesses have even created a sort of closed loop, whereby waste materials from the brewery are delivered to Agnès Sourisseau’s Les Monts Gardés farm outside of Paris for composting. Vegetables and capons grown and raised on the farm are served at the restaurant, which also serves Ten Belles bread and is currently looking for ways to upcycle even the breadcrumbs.
Blayney hopes that, down the line, the bakery will be able to integrate itself even further into this circuit.
“There’s lots of opportunities; it’s just a question of not doing everything at once and choosing the right one,” says Blayney. “It’s not that easy. Some things are quite counter-intuitive. So yeah, we try to educate ourselves along the way, as well.”
While both friends note that Blayney’s roastery is still in its nascent stages, they do hope to be able to find more ways to work together in innovative ways. Years ago, Deck created a limited edition brew using green coffee and cascara (the dried skins of coffee cherries) to make a beer that didn’t taste like coffee at all.
“Green coffee is fairly herbal, a bit vegetal,” says Deck. “And we thought that could kind of be what hops are for us.”
“People were a bit weirded out,” he continues. “They didn’t understand how we could make a coffee-infused beer that wasn’t dark and toasty.”
But that’s just the kind of envelope the two friends hope to push.
“We could imagine harnessing the fact that we’re so close together to perhaps develop a coffee-based beverage that we couldn’t really do if we were far apart,” says Blayney. “Maybe do some coffee soft drinks. But then there’s a question of scale, because it’s 3,000 bottles minimum, I think, to launch the bottler…”
“6,000,” Deck corrects with a smile.
This kind of rapport is typical of the two friends, who are just as inspired by the other's passion—like Blayney's dream of spontaneously fermented beers or Deck tinkering with the idea of barrel-aged coffee beans.
“I think that people who are curious about one will often be curious about the other,” says Deck regarding their two specialties. “We’re trying to stay openly curious about the universe of taste, and not just be ‘beer geeks’ and not give a fuck about the rest.”
“Our goal, at the end of the day is to make something the clients like,” adds Blayney, “and avoid bullshit.”