Coffee: Useful French Vocabulary & 3 Best Spots to Drink Top Quality Coffee in Paris

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Have you ever ordered a style of coffee in Paris, only to have the waiter deliver something totally different? This week, I will share with you useful French vocabulary in decoding the different types of coffees you will find in France. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado who likes to discuss beans and roasts. Whether you're just someone who wants an espresso, learn more in today’s post. I’ll also share my top three recommendations of the 3 best spots to drink excellent quality coffee in Paris.

Having a private French lesson with French à La Carte in a café in Paris can be a wonderful way to know more about the distinct types of coffee you will find whilst practising conversational French.

Café culture vs Coffee culture

Over the last few years, I have heard many of my students especially Australians rave about French cuisine but complaining about the quality of French coffee. For a country whose values are closely connected to tasting and savouring, when it comes to coffee culture, reality is a bit disappointing. Paris excels in the café culture, from sitting on terraces of Parisian cafés or ordering un espresso with un croissant. Howeveruntil recently the café had not extended to coffee culture. In the past 10 years, coffee culture, influenced from the UK, USA, Australia, and beyond, has brought a new wave of coffee shops to Paris. Just like bistronomy and street food, coffee culture is changing fast. Now with a new generation of coffee bars, many are run by new generation Australian and American baristas.

Photo Credit: Cyril Saulnier

Photo Credit: Cyril Saulnier


Expressions & vocabulary related to coffee

If you go in French café, it might be helpful to decode the different types of coffees. A language barrier could prevent you from ordering the right coffee on the menu.  Here is a rundown of the basic coffee styles in France, as well as commonly-used coffee terms:

Un café: is a small cup of strong black coffee with nothing added, but is strong as it is brewed like an espresso.

Un café double – un double expresso: a double espresso

Un café serré: a strong espresso

Un café crème: coffee with cream

Un café américain: filtered coffee/americano

Un café allongé: slightly diluted espresso

Un café noisette: an espresso with a drop of milk. It is called "noisette," French for hazelnut, because of the rich, dark colour of the coffee. You can also just ask for une noisette.

Un café crème: coffee with cream

Un déca or décaféiné: decaffeinated, You will still need to tell them you want milk (lait) or cream (crème) with your coffee.

Un café glacé: iced coffee

Lait de soja: soya milk

Avec le lait à part: milk on the side

Photo Credit Mike Marguez

Photo Credit Mike Marguez

Other useful French expressions to order a café

A great YouTube video to watch explaining useful expressions is here

Je voudrais: I would like

Je vais prendre: I will have

Est-ce que vous avez… ? : do you have…. ?

Est-ce que c’est possible d’avoir: is it possible to have

Du sucre: sugar

Du lait: milk

Plus de sucre: more sugar

Moins de sucre: less sugar

Un peu de lait: a bit of sugar


The 3 best spots in Paris to drink top quality coffee


Hardware Société

10 rue Lamarck

75018 Paris

Hailing from Melbourne, Hardware Société brings the best of down under to the Parisian table. Located in touristy Montmartre, the shop is just far enough away from the bustle to feel hidden. French pastries round out a menu filled with fruit-topped French toast, eggs, bacon, salmon, and other brunch staples. The cold brew coffee and chai lattes are the best you’ll find in the area.  On the weekends after 11 am there is often a queue, so pop down early.


Fondation Café

16 rue Dupetit Thouars

75003 Paris

Run by Australian alumni of Ten Belles, Fondation is a tiny shop just a stone’s throw from the greenery of the Square du Temple. If one of the dozen or so seats isn’t available, take your cup to go and check out the scenery in the square. Fondation always has a solid filter coffee, including an iced version when it’s hot- which is not a given in Paris. Their beans hail from Belleville Brûlerie, and their small selection of cakes is excellent. Go for the banana bread if you love yourself at all!


Coutume café

47 rue de Babylone

75007 Paris

Roasting since 2010, Coutume is for serious coffee lovers who care about things like Chemex, AeroPress, and cold brewing. For newcomers to coffee nerdery, it can all seem rather scientific and overwhelming when you walk into their shop, which is just down the street from the Bon Marché department store. But fortunately, the baristas are ready to help you pick the drink that’s best for you, and you can feel like you’ve learned a little something along the way. This crew also runs a second shop, Instituutti, which is located in the Latin Quarter.

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao


Private French lessons in Paris: Learn French with a personal touch

Whether you are in Paris for a short stay or you are an expat building a new life in France, French à la Carte provide personalized private French lessons to match your needs, learning abilities, schedule, and location in Paris.   

For those who need to feel more at ease in their daily life in Paris or explore Paris while speaking French, we can teach you in real life situations or offer learning fulfilling outdoors activities. Such examples are gourmet tours and walking conversation tours.

At French à la Carte, we believe that learning a new language should be an engaging, rewarding, and life-changing experience. If you'd like to learn more, contact us to get in touch.