Retro French Coffee–And The “Ooo La La”!

Oh la la! We all know the classic French clichés : croissant for breakfast, wine for lunch, baguettes & bad service but when you dig a little deeper into French stereotypes you will discover that in the country where cafes are sacred, the coffee is not.

Coffee in France has a reputation for being la merde. Not good. Pas du tout. Over-extracted. Burnt-tasting. This apparently stems from a history of cheap, strong beans from former French colonies to which the French have become accustomed. And stereotypically, the French just don’t care.

But I do.

So if you are dreaming about sipping a petit cafe on a terrace in Paris, you might first want to know what to order and where to get the good stuff. With prices ranging from 1€ standing at the counter to 4,50€ on a touristy terrace, here is what you can expect from coffee in Paris.

Un Café (café noir or café express)
Your typical tiny single shot of espresso, French-style, meaning too bitter, and carelessly made. I don’t like it but for a 1€ stand-up-at-the-bar-coffee, can you really go wrong? Yes.

Un Noisette
This is my go-to coffee in France, even though I don’t like it that much. Coming in at about 2,40€ on a terrace, it is just an easy and reasonable, everyday choice. Un noisette (meaning a nut, but actually having nothing to do with nuts) is that same single shot of French “espresso” with a tiny dollop of milk and/or foam. This is the local version of a macchiato but nowhere near as good a proper macchiato. As we all know, there are somethings that Italians just do better.

Un Cafe Allongé
The closest thing you will find to an american black coffee, but sort-of better. Basically un cafe with hot water added. Perfect for that black coffee drinker who finds a single shot espresso just a little too strong.

Un Café Crème (or simply Un Crème)
Significantly smaller than a café latte and socially acceptable to drink at any time, this is your classic one-shot café served in a larger cup with hot milk. If you’re lucky, the hot milk is served on the side so you can put in just the right amount for yourself. Not too bad on the scale of bad French coffee.

Un Cafe au Lait
Like a cappuccino in Italy, you should neverorder this anywhere other than your hotel and certainly not past 10:00 am. The French typically enjoy a café latte at home, in the mornings, in a bowl (for dunking un croissant, of course). It is socially unacceptable to order this in a cafe or bar in France and is certainly never to be ordered after a meal. Bah!

Cafe Gourmand
This little treasure can even be found at the McCafe. It is a typical café that comes with a side of usually 3 – 5 petits fours such as a macaron, crème brûlée, a small scoop of ice cream or other teeny dessert. This is, in my opinion, a real delight and can even make the bad French coffee seem good.

Hint: If you don’t want to be an obvious bumbling tourist, please never order coffee with your meal. Not even with your dessert (unless your order a Café Gourmand). Un cafe or un noisette is typically ordered after dessert.

The Good Stuff
So if you’re a coffee snob or you come from a hipster coffee culture like Vancouver, or you just don’t like French coffee, you’ll want to know where to get the goods in Paris.

Wifi & a flat white, svp.

Flat White
My personal favourite, Aussie-born (correct me if I’m wrong), is the flat white. With considerably less milk than a latte, this coffee has a much higher proportion of espresso to milk making it strong and smooth. I’m so happy to find this in Paris but at about 4,50€ a pop it’s not my everyday jolt.

KB Cafeshop
A hipster café, filled with geeks and macbooks and good coffees. Best flat white in Paris, free wifi and located in lively South Pigalle. Metro Pigalle

Holybelly
Australian-influenced and offering fresh savoury breakfasts & lunches and of course, proper coffee (and free wi-fi). Closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. What!?!? Metro Jacques Bonsergent

Cafe Lomi
Heard good things. Will report back.

Belleville Brûlerie
This is not a coffee shop but a trendy new roastery offering Saturday morning coffee cuppings (tastings) in French and over-priced but very delicious beans from South America & Africa, roasted onsite. Open only on Saturdays. Bah, oui! Metro Pyrénées

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Thanks for reading

20 thoughts on “Retro French Coffee–And The “Ooo La La”!

    1. Thank you m. You are the sweetest in love flavor of recipes. The west coast is hot like a cannonball. 🥵

      1. We have had our rain too. Now, it is cool and breezy Happy Sunday Dorothy! XOXO

  1. French coffee is not too bad! It is not as good as Portuguese or Italian coffee…. but You should taste coffee in Britain or Ireland 😉

    1. We’re going to take you up on your suggests. Thank you for your vist and information. 👌

  2. Interesting! I drink espresso and am picky where in France I drink it. I

    1. How wonderful it is to be picky and have great choices of coffee to be picky with… from the USA snd around the world. Cheers Sheree, to your cup and a new day! ☕️☕️♥️

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