I love to hear from my readers. I don't need positive feedback to keep writing but it's at least as enjoyable as hot chocolate sauce on top of vanilla ice-cream. So I was thrilled when I got an email from Tania telling me how much she liked my blog. As a French expat in Zurich, she had related to my stories easily.
I immediately offered to meet and she suggested Café Noir, which was recommended to me several times already. I was curious to meet Tania, or 'my fan', as I like to call her. Maybe she would look a bit like me or at least think the same way since she had liked my writing?
I found Café Noir easily behind the main station. If you walk past the Brokenhaus, you'll find a little café on the left side with a few chairs outside surrounded by plants. Even though located in the middle of the city and often full, Café Noir has a quiet atmosphere.
The smell of coffee invaded my senses as I entered the place. Coffee was everywhere: most people had expressos on their tables and the in-house roasted coffee was on display on a large shelf to the right, along with coffee machines and other accessories.
Tania was seated at the window table and complemented the decor nicely with her dark orange sweater matching the colour of the walls. In a way, she knew a lot about me already through my blog and I knew nothing about her. So I had a lot of questions.
I wasn't in a hurry to get my expresso; the smell of coffee was already satisfying, and Tania's life was interesting. She had lived in so many different countries already: France, Uruguay, Morocco, USA, Brazil and Spain.
"How did you end up in Zürich?" I asked.
"I lived in Paris when I had a very attractive job offer to come here. I didn't know anything about Zürich, but I thought 'Why not?'. So far, I'm pleasantly surprised and enjoy living here. I feel like I have the most comfortable life I've ever had: a spacious flat, I'm close enough to Paris to visit my friends often, I love my neighborhood with all its cafés and litle shops..."
"So do you want to stay here then?" I asked.
"No," she replied without hesitation. "I can't see myself staying in Zürich forever. I'm too afraid to lose touch with reality in Switzerland. I'll forget that there are homeless people out there, people who struggle, other skin colours, dirty streets and variety. As much as I enjoy my life here, I don't want to live in a postcard all the time."
I finally got up to order my expresso at the counter. I saw they had an "expresso of the month" which I wanted to try. The friendly waitress asked: "Are you sure you want to order it? It costs 18 francs."
"Huh? 18 francs for one expresso?!"
"Yes, it's a very special coffee..."
Talking about losing touch with reality, here was a good example! I ordered a normal expresso.
We talked for about 2 hours about our life, my blog and the difficulty to make Swiss friends:
"In a year and a half, I've made quite a lot of friends," Tania explained. "But not a single Swiss friend. When I move to a new country, it's very important for me to feel integrated so I try my best to mingle with locals. And I've managed to feel part so many other contries. But here, I feel like an observant, not at home." She sighed.
I have very few Swiss friends myself, I realised. Most Swiss people have friends from their childhood and don't need new foreign friends. "But I believe it just takes time," I told her.
The atmosphere was easy going: a family with kids here, a couple there, a man reading a newspaper on the back. The place is so small that it feels like everyone is sitting together; it must be a good place to meet people. The expresso was excellent, very soft, not bitter at all. I left the place energised by the coffee and Tania's praise.
Café Noir will make you feel like you're in a hip place in Berlin or Paris. The regular expresso is one of the cheapest in Zürich (CHF 3,80.-) and the atmosphere is super relaxed. With its in-house roasted coffee and its offer of workshops about roasting, Café noir is a must for coffee lovers.
Read my blog: Trying to be Conscious