If you find yourself in France and need a caffeine boost, ordering a coffee may seem like a straightforward task. However, the coffee culture in France is unique, and locals have specific preferences when it comes to their cup of joe. From the type of coffee to the way it is served, there are several factors to consider. In this guide, we will explore how to order a coffee in France, including the various coffee options available, the etiquette surrounding ordering at a café, and some common phrases to help you navigate the menu and interact with the barista. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or just looking for a simple cup of coffee, this guide will ensure that you can order with confidence and enjoy your coffee like a local. So, grab a seat at a café, pull out your notebook or phone, and get ready to learn everything you need to know about ordering coffee in France.
Understanding the Coffee Culture in France
French coffee culture is a significant part of everyday life in France. The French take their coffee seriously and have a distinct way of enjoying it. Unlike other countries, coffee drinking is not just about getting a caffeine fix; rather, it’s an experience to be savored.
The History of Coffee in France
Coffee drinking has been an essential part of French culture since the 17th century when merchants started importing beans from Africa and the Middle East into Marseille ports. However, it was only during the 18th century that coffee became popular among the general population.
The Importance of Cafes
Cafes are integral to French culture, with over 25,000 cafes spread across the country. They’re not just places to grab a quick cuppa; they’re social hubs where people gather to chat and relax after work or on weekends.
Types of Coffee You Can Order
When ordering coffee in France, you’ll come across several different types:
Café Expresso (Expresso)
An expresso shot served alone or with sugar cubes on the side.
Café allongé (Long Coffee)
A single shot espresso diluted with hot water for a longer drink.
Café Noisette (Hazelnut Coffee)
Espresso served with a small amount of milk foam or cream on top giving it its hazelnut color.
Espresso topped up with steamed milk foam and sometimes cocoa powder sprinkled on top
Ordering Coffee at Different Times of Day
In France, there are specific times for drinking certain types of coffees:
During breakfast time (before 10 am), locals usually order café crème or café au lait – espresso mixed with warm milk.
After lunchtime until around 4 pm people opt for un café – an espresso.
If you want to order coffee in the evening, you can ask for a café allongé.
How to Order Coffee in French
Ordering coffee in France is simple. You can follow these steps:
Step 1: Greet the staff
When entering a cafe, it’s customary to greet the staff with a “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir,” depending on what time of day it is.
Step 2: Choose your drink
Select your preferred type of coffee and how you want it served – chaud (hot) or froid (cold).
Step 3: Place your order
When placing an order, use “je voudrais” (I would like) followed by the name of your drink.
Step 4: Payment
You’ll need to pay for your drink at the counter before taking a seat.
In France, tipping isn’t mandatory but leaving some coins as a gratuity is always appreciated. Generally speaking, people leave around 10% of their total bill as a tip.
Different Types of Coffee in France and Their Characteristics
As we discussed earlier, coffee is an essential part of French culture, and there are several types of coffee that you can order. Each type has its unique characteristics and taste. Let’s take a closer look at them:
French coffee culture is an experience to be savored, and ordering coffee in France involves taking into consideration specific times of the day, types of coffee available, and etiquette surrounding ordering at a cafe. Notable types of coffee in France include expresso, café allongé, café noisette, cappuccino, latte macchiato, and café americano. Some tips for ordering coffee in France include greeting staff politely, asking for recommendations, learning basic French phrases, and taking your time to sip and savor your coffee. Finally, indulging in a café gourmand, consisting of an espresso accompanied by three or four mini desserts, offers an excellent way of experiencing French culture.
### Café Expresso (Expresso)
The most popular form of coffee in France is the espresso, also known as the expresso. It’s a small but mighty shot that packs a punch in terms of flavor and caffeine content.
- Served alone or with sugar cubes on the side.
- Typically served hot.
- Strong flavor and aroma.
### Café allongé (Long Coffee)
Café allongé is another popular type of coffee in France. It’s made by adding hot water to an espresso shot to create a longer drink.
### Café Noisette (Hazelnut Coffee)
A café noisette is espresso served with a small amount of milk foam or cream on top giving it its hazelnut color.
Cappuccino originated from Italy but has gained popularity across Europe over time, including France. It consists of espresso topped up with steamed milk foam and sometimes cocoa powder sprinkled on top
### Latte Macchiato
Latte Macchiato means stained or spotted milk; this coffee variation consists mostly out of warm frothed-up milk slightly stained by either one or two shots of espresso poured into it.
- Mostly frothed-up milk, with little coffee.
- Slightly sweet taste due to added milk.
### Café Americano
Café Americano is a diluted form of espresso and was created during World War II by the American soldiers stationed in Italy who found the local espresso too strong.
Locating the Best Coffee Shops in France
Now that we have understood the different types of coffee available in France and how to order them, let’s explore where to find the best coffee shops in France.
French coffee culture is unique, and locals have specific preferences when it comes to their cup of joe. When ordering coffee in France, it’s important to understand the different types available, the etiquette surrounding ordering at a café, and some common phrases to help you navigate the menu and interact with the barista. Moreover, learning about local customs and etiquette, such as sipping slowly or enjoying with a croissant or pastry, can enhance your overall coffee drinking experience.
### Ask a Local
Asking locals for recommendations is one of the best ways to find excellent coffee shops. They can suggest hidden gems that you might not find on your own.
### Online Research
Online research can be a great way to find popular cafes with high ratings and reviews. Here are some online resources that you can use:
TripAdvisor is an excellent resource for finding some of the best cafes across France, as it offers user reviews and ratings.
Yelp provides extensive information about local businesses, including cafe options across various cities in France.
Google Maps is also an excellent tool for finding nearby cafes and their ratings based on customer reviews.
### Explore Different Neighborhoods
Exploring different neighborhoods is another way of discovering new cafes and experiencing French culture at its finest.
Paris has several iconic cafés like Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots, Le Procope among others which are worth visiting.
#### Lyon Cafes
Lyon has been dubbed ‘The Capital of Gastronomy’, so it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of excellent cafés around every corner.
#### Marseille Cafes
Marseille boasts several charming spots where you can enjoy an espresso or café crème while soaking up the Mediterranean sun.
### Attend Coffee Festivals or Events
Attending coffee festivals or events is another way to discover new cafes and meet passionate baristas and roasters who take pride in their craft. Some famous events include:
The Paris Coffee Show
An annual event held every May showcasing everything from bean roasting techniques to latte art competitions.
La Fete du Cafe (The Coffee Festival)
A festival held annually in the city of Nice celebrating coffee culture with barista competitions, workshops, and tastings.
How to Place an Order for Coffee in France: The Do’s and Don’ts
Ordering coffee in France can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the culture. However, following these simple do’s and don’ts can help you navigate the process with ease.
Understanding the coffee culture in France is essential when ordering coffee. French cafés are more than just places to grab a quick cuppa; they’re social hubs where people gather to chat and relax. Different types of coffee are available, and there are specific times for drinking certain types of coffees. When placing an order, it is customary to greet the staff politely, choose your drink, place your order, and pay for your drink at the counter before taking a seat. Understanding local customs and etiquette can enhance your overall coffee drinking experience.
### Do Greet the Staff Politely
It’s essential to greet the staff when entering a café. A simple “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” (depending on what time of day it is) will suffice.
### Don’t Rush Your Order
In France, coffee drinking culture is all about taking your time and enjoying the experience. So take a deep breath, relax and place your order when ready.
### Do Ask for Recommendations
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from baristas or other locals; they might suggest some hidden gems that aren’t listed on tourist guides.
### Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
If you’re unsure about something, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Baristas are happy to answer any queries you may have regarding their coffee offerings.
### Do Learn Some Basic French Phrases
Learning some basic French phrases like “Je voudrais un café s’il vous plaît” (I would like a coffee please) can go a long way in making your order pleasant and effortless.
### Don’t Expect Customizations
Customizing your drink isn’t common practice in France; therefore, it’s better not to expect them unless specified on the menu or offering additional options by barista.
### Do Understand Coffee Drinking Culture in Different Regions
It’s important to know that there may be variations across regions of France; however sticking with basic rules should allow one to get their desired cup of joe without much confusion.
Enhancing Your Coffee Experience in France with Local Customs and Etiquette
Apart from knowing how to order coffee in France, understanding local customs and etiquette can enhance your overall coffee drinking experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
French coffee culture is unique and should be savoured. When ordering coffee in France, understand the types of coffee available, the etiquette surrounding ordering at cafes, and the appropriate phrases for interacting with the barista. Locating hidden gems by asking local French people and attending coffee festivals can enhance the overall coffee drinking experience. Lastly, trying a cafe gourmand and pairing coffee with croissants is encouraged, but it should not be shared with friends as it is meant for individual consumption.
### Sip Slowly
In France, coffee drinking is a leisurely activity that’s meant to be savored. So take your time when sipping your drink and enjoy the moment.
### Don’t Add Milk After 11 am
In most French cafes, it’s customary not to add milk after 11 am; however, this may vary by region.
### Use Sugar Cubes
Sugar cubes are commonly used instead of granulated sugar and typically served on the side of the espresso cup or saucer.
### Don’t Stir Your Drink
Avoid stirring your drink too much once sugar has been added; this is considered rude as it alters the taste of other customers who might use the same spoon later on.
### Enjoy With a Croissant or Pastry
French pastries like croissants or pains au chocolat pair perfectly with coffee, so don’t hesitate to indulge yourself!
Understanding Café Gourmand
Café gourmand is an excellent way of experiencing French culture at its finest. It’s served as a post-lunch treat consisting of an espresso accompanied by three or four mini desserts like macarons or fruit tarts.
Do Try Café Gourmand
If you’re interested in experiencing something uniquely French, then trying café gourmand should be on top of your list.
Don’t Share Your Desserts
Café gourmand is meant for an individual serving only! Sharing desserts among friends can be seen as impolite unless offered first by one person specifically with all others agreeing politely.
What are the typical types of coffee people order in France?
In France, when it comes to ordering coffee, the two most popular types are café or café au lait. “Café” is a small cup of strong black coffee, while “café au lait” is coffee served half-and-half with hot milk. There are also variations like “café crème” which is similar to a cappuccino, where the coffee is topped with foamed milk. Another popular coffee in France is “café allongé,” which is a double espresso with added water to extend its size.
What is the best way to order coffee in French cafes?
When you enter a café in France, it’s customary to greet the barista with “Bonjour” and make eye contact. To order, you can say “Je voudrais un café” (I would like a coffee) or “Un café, s’il vous plaît” (A coffee, please). In case you want to specify the size, you can say “Un petit café” for a small cup or “Un grand café” for a large cup. Some people also prefer to add sugars (“Sucre”) or milk (“Un peu de lait”) to their coffee, and you can make your preference known by saying it after ordering the coffee.
What is the cost of coffee in French cafes?
The prices for coffee in cafes varied according to location and type. Generally, a cup of coffee or café in France cost around €2 to €5, but it could be more if you order in tourist areas or premium cafes. If you’re looking for a budget option, try the small cafes around the corner street, which also serve quality coffee. The tall carafes with filtered coffee, the “café filtre,” are cheaper than black or white coffee, so keep that in mind.
Is it usual to tip the barista when ordering coffee in France?
In France, it’s not necessary to tip the baristas when ordering your coffee. A service charge is already included in the bill, and sometimes, a small fee will apply if you take your coffee on the terrace. That being said, if you enjoyed the service and want to show appreciation, leaving an extra euro or two is appreciated. Still, it should not be obligatory, and it won’t be considered rude if you don’t tip.