Foodie Abroad: En Paris

This week Foodie Abroad has travelled from her usual home in Barcelona to the refined comforts of Paris.  Today’s article is about ordering your favorite coffee drinks in an unfamiliar city.

Part one: the basics

So you’ve made it to France and you are craving some terrace time at a local café. Here are your options:

Café: this is what most of us would consider to be an espresso, but in France it constitute a “café normale” (café normal). To avoid confusion, you can order an “express”. To clarify, the confusion is that if a waiter suspects a foreign accent, they are likely to second guess your choice and confirm that you are not expecting an “American-style coffee”.

Café Décafféiné (déca): decaf…. But you will have to specific how you want your decaf prepared.

If you are looking for something closer to home…

Alongé or Café Americain (Americano): just like back home, this is an espresso shot that is either run through or has water added. It can also be understood as filtered coffee.

If that is still too strong (the French like their coffee quite strong), you can work up the courage to ask for…

Café Léger: espresso with double the water.

I take no responsibility if the restaurant staff scoff and look down at you for wanting this option. Apparently terrible service and reduced self-confidence is part of the experience. You will get used to it. On the upside, generally, once you have ordered, you are entitled to hang out at your table indefinitely without ordering anything else. It is the upside of the social café culture.

Café au lait: just what you would expect: coffee + milk. Sometimes the milk comes already added and other places will provide you with a pitcher of milk for you to add to your liking.

Café crème: coffee with cream.

Noisette: an espresso cut with milk or cream. It resembles a Spanish “cortado” or Italian “macchiato”. Noisette means hazelnut and this drink was attributed this name because of the dark, rich colour of the coffee. Ordering a noisette makes you look slightly more local and “in the know”. Also, it makes a lovely post-meal treat. Highly recommended.

1 comment to Foodie Abroad: En Paris

  • Hey MR :-) Came here from Tanya’s place – we seem to be swapping between us…

    My coffee of choice is the Cafe Americain – or as Costa Coffee call it, Americano!
    I have never liked milk or cream in coffee – or sugar for that matter….

    Ah…….coffee….. :-)


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