Blog · Paris · Ordering Coffee in Paris

Ordering Coffee in Paris

May 15, 2020

One of the best, most relaxing activities to do in the streets of Paris is to take a seat outside a local Parisian café, while sipping a cup of coffee.  However, if you’re from another country, your idea of the various types of coffee might be different in Paris, where the word ‘coffee’ will bring you a tiny option… So, here is a guide to save the day and help you construct your coffee order:

The many varieties of coffee and espresso with which ones get you an order in a large or small cup, just so you know what to expect:

  1. Espresso

This is where most confusion begins in French cafés to most tourists. If you’re ordering an espresso, yes, you can say espresso, but if you want a big, American coffee and you say café, you will be ordering an espresso. This French word, café, translates to ‘coffee’ in English, but don’t be fooled, it means an espresso. It’s served in a cute little cup and takes all of three sips to finish and if you’d like a double, just say “double espresso, s’il vous plaît!”

  1. American Black Coffee

If you’re looking for your classic, strong black coffee, you’ll wanted to order a café allongé, which is an espresso and water.

  1. Decaffeinated Coffee

If you want the taste, but not a caffeine fix, go for the café américain déca and await your decaf coffee in a large cup, since you added in the ‘américain.’

  1. Cappuccino

In Paris, I’ve had mixed experiences where one café will make you a cappuccino as you order it saying, cappuccino, while others only offer café crème. A cappuccino is an espresso with foamed milk in a large cup.

  1. Coffee with milk

This can either be a café au lait, which will come in a large cup and is an espresso with hot milk, or it can be a noisette, an espresso with a dash of milk in a small cup.

Coffee in French culture is mostly just consumed with breakfast during mealtime. Later in the day, they’ll typically drink un express after lunch or dinner, not with dessert. In French customs, they don’t normally multitask with food or coffee, they take their time and respect their moments on break. So you won’t be able to take a coffee or espresso ‘to-go’ unless you’re at Starbucks. Want to learn more about French cuisine? Sign up for an immersive French baking class.