How to order a coffee in France (7 drinks you can order in France, mistakes to avoid when ordering coffee in France)

You have visited France and want to enjoy a coffee but do not know where and how to start. If you do not want to struggle to make a coffee order, this article will show you how to order coffee in France.

To order a coffee in France, you need to learn basic French phrases used in France when ordering coffee, like Bonjour, Un café, and Merci, to get by. Likewise, it is good to know the types of coffee drinks ordered in France. I recently graduated from my French class and decided to visit France to test my skills. Because I love coffee so much, I figured I should try my luck at a French cafe. It was still challenging to tell the barista what I wanted because I never took the time to learn about the French coffee culture. Still, after so many failures and embarrassments , I finally learned how to order coffee in France. Read this article to learn how to order coffee in France so you can become flawless and not swallow your words.

How to order coffee in France like a local- Ordering coffee in French

7 drinks you can order in France
Order coffee in France. Image source: Pixabay

To order coffee in France, you would need to learn a few phrases French people use to order coffee and the types of coffee French people drink.

To order your coffee go to a café or a brasserie. Do not be surprised if both cafés and brasseries have coffee and alcohol. You are in the right place. It is just the culture shock.

To order your coffee in French, you first need to know the type of coffee drinks available and common in the country. Some of these drinks are:

  • Café allongé
  • Café noisette
  • Café crème

Before ordering, you need to learn some polite phrases in French. You have got to be polite. We are in a civilized environment. People in France value politeness, so greeting the barista before making your order is essential. It would help if you learned words like;

  • Hello-Bonjour
  • Thank you-Merci
  • Please-s’il vous plaît
  • Good evening- Bonsoir

Begin by saying bonjour, which is a greeting meaning hello. To order say un café, s’il vous plaît. It means a coffee, please. You can substitute un café with any other coffee of your choice another example is, Bonjour,un café crème s’il vous plaît.

To ask for the bill, say, l’addition s’il vous plaît.  However, sometimes, the bill will come together with your coffee. 

There are different times in the day to order different types of coffee. For instance, milky coffees like café crème are usually ordered in the morning for breakfast with pastries like croissants. Un café (an espresso) is usually standalone, meaning it is usually drunk on its own without being accompanied by a meal. It is usually consumed after a meal, like in the afternoon. 

Mistakes to avoid when ordering coffee in French?

  • Always clarify to the barista the strength of your coffee. French coffee is usually very strong. So, if you do not like bitter and potent coffee, make sure to tell your barista. Use phrases like
  • Bien serré (very tight) or serré (tight) if you want the potent version.
  • Pas trop serré (not too tight) if you do not want a potent version.
  • Do not ask for a takeaway. It is not typical French culture to get a to-go coffee. Most cafés do not have to-go cups, so before ordering your coffee, ensure you have enough time to sit and enjoy your coffee. Even though Starbucks and other shops provide tourists with takeaway coffee, French locals are not known for doing so. So do what the Romans do when you go to Rome.
  • Do not flag down a server. You enter a cafe, sit down, and wait for the waiter to serve you.10 minutes have passed, but no waiter seems interested in you. If this happens, your mind will tell you to get the waiter’s attention. Ignore that intrusive thought. In France, life is slow-paced; servers take their time; do not rush them as they will see it as rude.
  • Pay for your coffee with cash. Coffee usually costs a little. I would therefore advise you to have the exact amount to pay, but if you spend over $10 to $20, you can ask to pay with a credit card.
  • Do not tip when in France. You are not obligated to leave a tip in France like in the US, where you may get a stinky eye if you do not. But if you feel the service was exceptional, you can leave a little extra on your bill.
  • It is better to order un café au bar. It means ordering coffee while standing at the bar. It is usually cheaper standing than sitting on the Terrace. So, join the French locals standing on the Terrace or chat up the barista with your good or broken French and experience that lifestyle.
  • Do not order café un bar and take it to the table. That is a big no-no if you want a café un bar drink standing at the Terrace. If you want to sit and enjoy your coffee, take a seat and patiently wait for the waiter.

7 Coffee drinks you can order in France.

Coffee drinks in France are not as complicated as the Starbucks coffee orders we make in the US.

The French strive for simplicity; these are some of the coffee drinks to order when you’re in France;

Un Café

7 drinks you can order in France
Un Café. Image source: Pixabay

Un café is what we all know as espresso. It is, however, not your usual espresso. I would therefore recommend these drinks for those who love their coffee to be potent, bitter, and dark.

Un Deca

How to order a coffee in France
Un Deca. Image source: Pixabay

 Un deca is a decaffeinated coffee or a decaf espresso. Please do not come for me, but I have never understood why people drink coffee without caffeine. It is like hot chocolate without chocolate. What’s the point?

Café Crème

Mistakes to avoid when ordering coffee in France
Café Crème. Image source: Pixabay

 Café crème tastes like a latte that is not as milky. So, it is just an espresso with milk. Be sure not to say un café au lait (coffee with milk) because that is typically done at home. You are not trying to get cozy with the barista here .

Café Allongé

7 drinks you can order in France
Café Allongé. Image source: Pixabay

Café Allongé is an espresso diluted with hot water. Sometimes the hot water comes separately; other times, it is mixed in with your coffee.

Un Café Glacé

How to order a coffee in France
Un Café Glacé. Image source: Pixabay

 Un café glacé is French for iced coffee. Iced coffee these days has become the “it” thing. Some cafés have it, and some don’t, but if you want one and it is not available, request a glass of ice (un verre avec des glaçons) and combine it with your coffee to get un café glacé.

Un Cappuccino 

How to order a coffee in France
Un Cappuccino. Image source: Pixabay

Un cappuccino is an almost universal drink, and the name is not as difficult to pronounce. It has one part espresso, one part foamed milk, and one part milk.

Café Noisette

How to order a coffee in France 
Café Noisette. Image source: Pixabay

Café Noisette is an espresso that has just a touch of milk. It usually means hazelnut, but this one doesn’t have the hazelnut flavor, just the color. I know that is disappointing, but it is what it is .

FAQ section

What is the most common coffee drink you can get in French?

The most common coffee drink you can get is Un café (an espresso).

How much is coffee in French?

Most areas in France will charge €2 if it is a cafe, but the price will be higher if you want a milkier version. If you are taking your coffee in a bar, standing, it is cheaper than when seated.

How to order black coffee in French

To order black coffee in French, you can order Un café s’il vous plait. Which means “a coffee, please.”

How do you order coffee with milk in French?

To order coffee with milk in French, say “café crème s’il vous plait”.

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