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Paris Coffee Guide: The Art of Ordering Coffee in Paris

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Last Updated on 26th July 2019 by Sophie Nadeau

Paris coffee is something of an institution when it comes to the French Capital city. Indeed, there is nothing more cliché- nor perhaps more enjoyable– than sitting at a café en terrace and sipping on an espresso. Perhaps flicking through a well-thumbed novel, or perusing the local paper, all the while watching the people walk by, going about their daily lives. And, of course, there is an art to ordering coffee in Paris.

The Broken Arm Coffee Shop in Le Marais, Paris, France

Looking for the best of French café culture? Here's your Paris coffee guide for the art of how to order coffee in the French capital city, Paris, France

Types of Coffee you’ll find in France

When it comes to deciding what kind of coffee you’re going to be ordering, then you’ll want to ensure you know what’s on offer! Usually, when you simply order a coffee, it will be assumed that you just want an espresso, no milk. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options available to you. You just need to know what to ask for…

Un expresso

If you simply ask for ‘un café s’il vous plaît,’ then you’ll probably be given an espresso. Short and to the point, sipping an espresso in an outdoor café in Paris is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Prices of expresso vary around the city, depending on the arrondissement, usually ranging from €1, all the way up to €4.

Une Noisette

Although the word ‘noisette’ in French means hazelnut, you are not going to be given some fancy hazelnut concoction. Instead, a noisette is an espresso with a little steamed milk in it. Ordering ‘un noisette’ and expecting it to contain nuts is definitely a Paris mistake many first time visitors to the city make!

Café Americain

Order the ‘café Americain’ and you can expect to receive the kind of regular filter coffee that you’d expect to find back home. However, it’s worth noting that not every café in Paris will offer an americano, and so instead you can order ‘un allongé’.

Un allongé

If you don’t want something as strong, or as concentrated as an espresso, but still want coffee, then ‘un allongé’ is the choice for you. The allongé typically has double the amount of water as an expresso, with the same amount of coffee.

Café crème

If you’re ordering coffee in Paris, then the Café crème is a tasty French creation made using rich coffee base topped with frothy milk. This coffee is much like you standard latté or a cappuccino, albeit typically in a smaller cup… And is only made French style…

Ordering Coffee in Paris, France: Tips, Tricks and Advice for how to order an expresso or other type of coffee in the french capital. Also include French coffee vocabulary

You should know before you visit Paris…

Before I lived in Paris, I had this notion that I would eat my weight in pastries while sipping on a cute little espresso cup. All the while trying not to get my nose stuck in that little piece of porcelain (ha!). However, when I arrived it became quite clear that most sidewalk cafés don’t serve coffee with pastries.

Instead, there is sometimes the option of purchasing a croissant to go together with your hot drink. More often than not though, coffee is almost always exclusively drunk on its own, without food. If you want to get a pastry, you’ll have to go to a speciality café or visit a patisserie shop. For those with a particularly sweet tooth, a visit to one of the best Paris macaron shops can provide the opportunity to enjoy both a café with a French sweet,

Ordering Coffee in Paris, France: Tips, Tricks and Advice for how to order an expresso or other type of coffee in the french capital. Also include French coffee vocabulary

On ‘rude’ French People in Cafés

Even today, there’s this horrible misconception that Parisians are rude and offensive. Before I lived there, people would warn me about ‘those rude French people’ and even went so far as to inform me that it might even make my experience of living in the city of lights that much less enjoyable.

Do you know what’s rude? Overgeneralizations about a whole group of people! After living in the city for a year, I can safely say that the assumption French people will be rude to you if you’re not French is a gross overgeneralization of an entire population. So go into French cafés, be polite and enjoy all the different coffee combinations on offer!

The Broken Arm Coffee Shop in Le Marais, Paris, France

My Parisian Coffee Address Book

In the past two decades, coffee culture in France has absolutely exploded. Whereas once upon a time visitors to the city would have been disappointed by the quality of coffee served in many Parisian establishments, today the new café scene is vibrant, buzzing, and ever-changing. For a better glimpse of café culture in the city, check out fellow blogger, Lindsey Tramuta’s book, The New Paris.

There is a myriad of cafés, coffee shops, and bistros in Paris in which to enjoy a café, as coffee is so-known in French. So whether you’re in search of a sweet escape or on-the-go drink, you’ll find all this and more. And if you’re in search of an oh-so ‘Instagrammable’ spot, here’s your complete guide to the best cafés in Paris.

Café Oberkampf, 3 Rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 Paris, France

Situated on the trendy Rue Oberkampf, Café Oberkampf serves delicious food and great coffee. Here, you can try the house specialty, shakshuka, and opt for one of their more unusual drinks. If you visit, I highly recommend ordering a ‘dirty chai’. It’s a little like a cross between a chai tea, and latté- and is basically like heaven to drink.

Café Kitsune, 51 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France

Nestled in the very heart of Palais-Royal, Café Kitsuné is one of the best, and only, places in the city to find a matcha latté. If you’re looking for specialty hot drinks, then iced, chai, regular expressos and muc more are availbale in this atmospheric café. I highly recommend getting your drink to take away (à emporter) and enjoying your drink in the Palais Royal park.

Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole, 24 Rue Chanoinesse, 75004 Paris, France

Located on Rue Chanoinesse, which in itself is absolutely full of history, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole is probably the cutest café in all the city. Nearby, you’ll find some of the best-kept secrets of Île de la Cité, including rue de Chantres and 26 rue Chaoinesse, a cobbled yard paved with gravestones!

The Broken Arm, 12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France

Situated in the very heart of the Le Marais neighbourhood of Paris, The Broken Arm is one of those rare cafés in Paris where you can enjoy both a sweet bite to eat (croissant, cake, pain au chocolat etc.) together with a particularly tasty coffee. The WiFi is also speedy, making the café a great place to sit down and get some work done!

Ordering Coffee in Paris, France: Tips, Tricks and Advice for how to order an expresso or other type of coffee in the french capital. Also include French coffee vocabulary

Ordering Coffee in Paris Vocabulary

Even if you don’t speak very much French, it’s still very much valued and appreciated when you make a small effort. If I could give you just one Paris travel tip, it would be to learn a few words before you go. In order to help you out during your Paris visit, be sure to bring a simple French phrasebook with you like this one.

You should also know before you go that you never have to purchase water in Paris. Tap water is drinkable, and in order to save money in the French capital, all you need to do is ask for a ‘carafe’ of water when placing your drink order. Here’s a little French Café vocabulary to help you when ordering coffee in Paris:

An expresso, please: Un expresso, s’il vous plaît.’

A jug of tap water, please: ‘Un carafe d’eau, s’il vous plaît’

The bill/ check please: ‘L’addition s’il vous plaît.’

Eat in/ Takeaway: Sur Place/ À Emporter

Enjoyed reading about Paris coffee and how to order coffee in Paris? Pin this article now, read it again later:

Ordering Coffee in Paris, France: Tips, Tricks and Advice for how to order an expresso or other type of coffee in the french capital. Also include French coffee vocabulary

The art of ordering coffee in paris. France

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!


  • Katie
    14th October 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Great post! I’m planning a trip to Paris next May, and although I studied there for a summer, I seem to have lost all of my French skills and knowledge in the meantime. This was a great refresher!

  • Kelland
    27th July 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Having lived in Paris since 2007 I regret to say that as far as coffee is concerned France is a disaster. They haven’t yet heard of flat white, not even in Starbucks. And all Starbucks outlets use longlife milk, which makes coffee taste disgusting. A cappuccino is very often an espresso with a big squirt of chantilly cream on top from a pressurised can. Most French take sugar with their coffee because so often the espresso is so bitter it’s almost undrinkable. I love France and the French and yes, even the cafe’s but I’ve had far better coffee in Bangladesh.

  • Jeff Adams
    2nd July 2019 at 10:23 pm

    A simple way to ensure French people you encounter are polite; simply say “bonjour” before you say anything else! You should not, as Americans do, walk in and immediately say, “I would like to order….” Say bonjour with a smile before asking for anything else, and the French will be very pleasant. And if you want to take it a step further, simply ask, “Parlez vous anglais?” after saying bonjour. Chances are, they speak English and everything should go swimmingly.

  • Linda Droshine
    2nd May 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Long ago I used to order double espress, and get a larger cup of espresso. Can you still order this?

  • Robin H
    22nd June 2018 at 9:21 am

    There is a reason why the stereotype of rude French people exists, but fortunately it’s an outdated generalization. I’ve been coming to France since the 80’s, and for a long time the level of rudeness I and many others consistently experienced (and believe me, the term “rudeness” is putting it way too lightly) was truly shocking. And it wasn’t just one or two people. There really was a cultural problem in this country (along with many positive traits, of course). Happily, it seems as though things have changed in France. Perhaps due to younger generations growing up and having different cultural influences. I’m not sure, but people really are a thousand times more agreeable in Paris than they were in the 80’s and 90’s. I would even say that they are now friendlier than people in many other European countries. What a pleasant change!

  • Chris
    30th March 2018 at 2:40 am

    A correction: A jug of water is: UNE carafe d’eau (féminin)

  • […] now it is possible to soak in the ambiance of Parisian life – without the need to make do with mediocre […]

  • Angela Maciel
    12th November 2017 at 6:58 am

    Hey Sophie nice post.. gonna bookmark this for my visit to Paris this Christmas lol 🙂

  • Karen Stanek
    30th June 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Just got back from Paris and I completely agree! Everyone was friendly as long as we treated them the same. Also dressing up a bit always helps! No need to go to expensive restaurants either. The cafe food we experienced was fantastic!

  • Courtney Blacher
    12th June 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Wow this is very useful for my next trip to Paris. Thank you for sharing.

  • Denise Brownell
    11th June 2017 at 11:02 am

    French cafes are one of my favourite things in Paris. Ordering coffee can be intimidating in a foreign city for the first time. I love this post!

  • Jennifer
    2nd June 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Perfectly written, loved Paris and found the people that we encountered to be very nice and very patient with our poor French speaking abilities. We actually had a more difficult time in Brussels, but that was our own fault for wandering into a bad neighborhood. Paris was lovely and charming and romantic and an adventure, but more than that we found it to be welcoming. And the coffee and cafes, nothing better that to sit at a cafe and sip some wonderful French espresso.

  • Pierre
    20th May 2017 at 9:07 am

    Great article! Just shared it on our Facebook page! 🙂

  • Dani
    18th May 2017 at 6:41 am

    Words cannot express how much I love the idea of this post. It’s exactly what I look for in a travel blog. You are such a provocative writer as well – you conjure the most beautiful images in my head as I read. I am traveling to Paris in July and cannot wait to practice ordering my café crème!

    I would love to read more posts about your experience living in Paris. Any posts you recommend?

  • Archer
    17th May 2017 at 9:19 am

    This is great! Sharing this to my cousin. She dreams to go to Paris and try out the cute cafes

  • Darina
    15th May 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Such a great and informative post!


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