ParisTravelPlanner.com Logo   Coffee (Café) in Paris, France
French coffee may be different from what you're used to—quite different. Here's how and where to buy it, and how to get what you want.  
rue de Seine, Paris, France


 

If you sit down in a Paris café and order un café, s'il vous plaît (a cup of coffee, please), the waiter will bring you a café noir (or café express), a small espresso-sized cup containing a few spoonfuls of dark, very strong espresso coffee. On the saucer will be a few cubes of sugar.

If you like strong espresso with a tiny bit of milk, ask for a café noisette.

Every sip of coffee fills your mouth with the intense, essential flavor of the brew. I find it delightful. (Here are some prices.)

If you want weaker, American-style coffee, and more of it, find a café that offers café filtre (filter coffee) (not all cafés do). It will be dark roast, from Arabica beans, closer to Starbucks flavor than the normal cup of medium-brown-roast American coffee.

You may also get away with asking for a café allongé (ah-lohn-ZHAY, "extended" coffee), espresso accompanied by a small pitcher of hot water with which to dilute the coffee to the desired strength.

At breakfast, many Parisians prefer café au lait (also called café crème): strong espresso coffee with hot milk. (Traditionally, at home, café au lait is served in a bowl, but in a café or restaurant it will come to you in a large cup.)

From mid-morning through the afternoon you might prefer a cappuccino, espresso coffee and steam-foamed milk with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or powdered or shaved chocolate, atop the foam.

On a hot summer day you may prefer café glacé, iced coffee

You can order any sort of coffee déca or décaféiné (also called faux—fake): decaffeinated.

For an extra bold jolt, order a double express (DOOB-luh eks-PRESS), or even a café serré, an espresso made with only half the normal amount of water, and therefore doubly concentrated.

(I assume you could even order a double espresso serré, with a caffeine jolt powerful enough to enable you to glimpse, if only for a moment, the key to world peace, but first you may want to check to see that the café is equipped with a working cardiac defibrillator.)

French restaurant etiquette dictates that you can drink a café noir any time of day or night, but the only time you can drink it with food is at breakfast. It may make sense to you to sip coffee with your rich dessert after dinner, but it does not make sense to the French, so you will not be served your coffee until after you have finished your dessert.

And if you feel like having a café au lait or cappuccino after dinner, the waiter will look at you in surprise and consternation, as though you have dropped from outer space, and will politely explain to you that one does not drink such drinks after dinner, only café noir, and will then do his or her best to fill your milky order, if possible. More...

Here's all about Turkish coffee.



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Cafe au Lait & Cafe Noir, Paris, France

Paris's most common cups of coffee: Café au Lait (or Café Crème) on the left, and Café Noir (or Café Express) on the right.