|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.
Un Café, s'il-vous-plaît...
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, fragrant, medium-dark roast (not black/burnt) strong espresso coffee.
On the saucer will be a few cubes or tubes of sugar, and perhaps a tiny treat: square of chocolate, chocolate-covered almond, etc.
If you like strong espresso with a few drops of milk, ask for a café noisette (nwa-ZET).
Every sip of coffee fills your mouth with the fragrant, intense flavor of the brew. We find it delightful. (Here are some prices.)
A Bold Jolt
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-bar is equipped with a working cardiac defibrillator.)
Café American Style
If you want less concentrated American-style coffee, and more of it, find a café that offers café filtre (filter coffee) (not all cafés do). It will probably 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) or even an Americano, a shot of espresso in a larger cup, accompanied by a small pitcher of hot water with which to dilute the coffee to the desired strength.
Café au Lait
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 (DEH-kah) or décafféiné (also glibly called faux—fake): decaffeinated.