“COFFEE BREWERS - MUSIC LOVERS” IS A SLOGAN OF THE HOOD, A COFFEE SHOP ON RUE JEAN-PIERRE TIMBAUD, ONE OF THE BUSIEST AND MOST COSMOPOLITAN STREETS IN THE CITY. INDEED, CAFÉS ARE PART OF THE PARISIAN LIFESTYLE, BUT THEY OFTEN RELY MORE ON TRADITION THAN ACTUAL COFFEE, OR MUSIC.
With its equal devotion to both coffee and music, The Hood is an example of a café that has managed to get the balance right. Co-founder Pearlyn Lee had the idea of creating The Hood when she was participating in a street jam during the Fête de la Musique in Geneva. While looking for a bathroom, Pearlyn saw a man playing piano in the middle of the street and went to join him. “I was there for four hours. It grew from just the two of us to a hundred people jamming and singing all night,” she says. At that very moment, she realised that “people from all over the world were singing together and it was so powerful”. And so, the desire to create a space based on musical kinship was born.
From the outside, The Hood still has marks of the shop it used to be: a rusty frontage with the sign “Parfumerie – Cadeaux – Bazar – Ménage” is there to remind us of the formerly working-class area. Gentrification has greatly changed the neighbourhood, with kebab shops, small grocery stores and dive bars being replaced by more hip watering holes and concept stores. Nevertheless, The Hood makes social exchange and community-based initiatives its priority through its promotion of creative collaboration, and it’s bringing together people of any ethnicity, orientation or religion. “We want people across all backgrounds to connect with each other in a physical way.”
A far cry from the sophisticated interior design, overpriced hot drinks and dull menus of so many “Seattle-inspired” coffee shops, The Hood is not only a café by day but a “Neo-bistro’ on some weeknights. Its secret weapon is, without a doubt, its South East Asian-inspired menu. Carefully crafted by Ms Huynh, the winner of Masterchef France in 2015, dishes such as congee, banh-mi, pho and coconut rice bowls feature, with vegan and gluten-free options, and all condiments, sauces, spice mixes and syrups are made in-house. Sit back and relax while sipping on golden milk and coffees from The Barn Berlin and Hexagone Cafe, or plan your next career move while snacking on brownies or The Hood’s famous Pandan chiffon cake. The speakers outside might be blasting Atlanta rap group Crime Mob, timeless funk by Ohio Players or current Belgian pop darling Angèle. It’s a broad yet inclusive selection that only enhances the notably laid-back ambience here – everyone feels at home in The Hood.