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How to Order the Best Coffee in Paris

written by Kayla Schorr April 16, 2019
How to Order the Best Coffee in Paris

Let’s face it: even though you’ll most likely be excited to wake up in Paris on your vacation, most of us are never truly awake until we’ve had our first cup of coffee. The French are serious about coffee, and you most likely will find some differences between French coffee and what you normally drink back home. Here are some tips regarding the coffee culture in the City of Lights and how to order the best coffee in Paris.

Paris Food Tours

Does the idea of sipping French coffee by the Seine send you into a magical daze?  Noshing on French cuisine will most definitely elicit the same response on your trip to Paris. Check our Le Marais Paris Food Tour to experience the best food in the city. Check out our other Paris tours as well to make the most out of your French getaway.

Coffee in France

Coffee Bar

Coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee do exist in France. While they are popular with the younger generations, you’ll practically never spot someone in Paris walking down the street with a cup of coffee in hand. For the French, taking your coffee to go is a bizarre concept. Coffee is something to be enjoyed, hence you take your time. If you do see someone walking in Paris with a coffee in their hand, you can almost be guaranteed they’ll be speaking English. So instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, why not try to get the real French coffee experience? To order coffee like a pro, stick to the following terms:

How to Order Coffee in Paris

Espresso Paris


Un café

By default, un café (literally, ‘a coffee’ in French) will always get you a shot of espresso.

Un café allongé

An espresso, but with hot water added.

Un café américain

That’s right, this literally translates to “an American coffee”. Order this and you’ll get the closest thing you can find to standard coffee in the United States, or filtered coffee.

Un déca

Saying this will get you a decaffeinated espresso. If you want another drink but also decaffeinated, just add the word déca to the end of your order: un café allongé déca, un café noisette déca, etc.

Un café crème

Coffee blended with milk. This is the closest thing you’ll find to a latte, although the drink won’t be quite as milky, and might have a stronger taste than you are used to.

Un cappuccino

Almost exactly like a café crème – in fact, we bet at your average French café you won’t even be able to tell the difference between the two! Cappuccinos will often be a little more expensive than a café crème, but at the end of the day they still both offer coffee with milk.

Un café noisette

Noisette means ‘hazelnut’ in French, but there’s nothing hazelnutty about this drink. Un café noisette will simply get you an espresso with a splash of milk.

One final tip: if you order and drink your coffee at the counter (le comptoir), it will often be cheaper than if you sit down at a table. This is normally best if you aren’t planning on staying for too long, since you’ll almost always have to stand at the counter.

I Want More Paris!

  • If you want us to arrange your sightseeing experience in Paris, check out our Paris tours. Skip the lines and see all of the City of Light’s major attractions with an English-speaking guide.
  • Not sure what to do in Paris? Read about the ten best things to do in Paris.
  • Parlez-Vous Francais? Learn some of the most important French phrases before your trip to Paris.


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