In Like a Local/ Paris


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
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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.

Types of Coffee

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: No, 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.

Café Americain: This is your regular filter coffee that you’d expect to find back home. However, not every café 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: A rich coffee base topped with a frothy milk, this coffee is much like you standard latté or cappucino. 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 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 specialty café or visit a patisserie shop.

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.

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!

My Parisian Coffee Address Book

Café Oberkampf: 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: 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: 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.

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. 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

Shop French Coffee Culture

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 vocabularyThe art of ordering coffee in paris. France

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  • Reply
    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?

  • Reply
    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!

  • Reply
    30th March 2018 at 2:40 am

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

  • Reply
    13 Amazing Coffee Cities You Need to Visit - Daily Cupo
    21st March 2018 at 5:08 am

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

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

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

  • Reply
    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!

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

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

  • Reply
    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!

  • Reply
    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.

  • Reply
    20th May 2017 at 9:07 am

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

  • Reply
    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?

  • Reply
    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

  • Reply
    15th May 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Such a great and informative post!

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