There are several important things to keep in mind when ordering coffee in France if you don’t want to look like a tourist.
First of all, DO NOT order Coffee To Go! Getting coffee to go used to be unheard of in Paris but with the presence of Starbucks and other shops catering to tourists, we are starting to see more and more coffee To Go. You will not see the French walking the streets with a To Go cup of coffee in hand, as they like to take a little time and sit down in a café to enjoy their coffee. Why be so rushed? Walking around with food or drink in hand in Paris is the sign of a tourist. Don’t be that tourist!
Coffee shops in France don’t typically rush you, so feel free to order a coffee and sit there and people watch or read for an hour or two. Don’t forget to ask for l’addition (the check) as servers won’t automatically bring it to you – you have to ask for it.
Coffee with milk or whipped cream is typically only ordered in the morning (pre-lunch) as coffee ordered in the afternoon or evening (or commonly after dinner), is the standard café (espresso).
A Bonjour (hello) or S’il Vous Plait (please) goes a long way in France – don’t forget to be friendly!
Typical Coffee Menu
Café = espresso (standard coffee to order)
Noisette = an espresso with a dollop of milk
Café Crème = coffee with frothy milk on top (same thing as a Café au Lait)
Cappuccino = coffee with 1 part espresso, 1 part milk, and 1 part frothy milk
Café Allongé = American coffee (espresso made with extra hot water)
Café Viennois = coffee with whipped cream on top
Café Gourmand = typically an espresso accompanied by a selection of mini-desserts (varies by restaurant)
– Jenn is SAI Paris Program Coordinator