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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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
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
Heard good things. Will report back.
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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