French coffee. Is it part of the culture? Is it a type of roasting style?
The French have a culture of coffee and cafes that dates back to the 17th century. It isn’t the act of drinking coffee but the fostering of a community that is so loved.
Coffee at a French Cafe is ordered at the bar, and customers quickly leave when finished. If you are looking for a more leisurely coffee, sit at a table, and order a cafe and pastry.
5 Types Of French Coffee
Let’s now learn about the five types of french coffee that you can try on your next outing.
Noisette is a French version of Italian Macchiato.
A Noisette is served in an espresso cup, with a drop or two of milk or cream. In French coffee culture, it is faux paux to order coffee with milk or cream in the afternoon.
Coffee with milk and a pastry is enjoyed in the morning. Due to its hazelnut hue, this coffee is duly named Noisette, or hazelnut.
Milk is considered too heavy a drink for the afternoon.
Due to the heaviness, milky coffee is the favorite during the morning hours only. The addition of milk makes the Noisette a perfect morning drink. It is one shot of espresso, served with a small serving of foamy milk.
If you want to order Noisette in, make sure you use the feminine article une noisette. I guess the addition of milk makes this coffee fancy. Your Noisette will be served in an espresso-style cup.
Is there anything better than coffee served in a mug that you can wrap your hands around?
Un Cafe Creme is the closest thing you find in France to a cappuccino. Cafe Creme is considered the breakfast coffee. These are typically served in a large mug.
It is not unusual to see people dipping their pastries in the delicious warm coffee.
If you order this by the name cappuccino, you will get some looks. Cappuccino is the Italian name for this drink. If you want to avoid some looks, be sure to order it as a Cafe Creme.
Traditionally, it is only ordered with coffee before 11 am because of the heaviness of milk or cream.
After meals, coffee is ordered as espresso, sans milk to aid in digestion.
In France, the names of the coffee drinks with milk are somewhat interchangeable. So, be sure to learn the terms of the milky coffees.
Be prepared for some surprises. If you want to ensure quality ingredients, stick with cafes that serve higher-quality coffee.
Cafe au Lait
When you are new to France and missing menus, it can be confusing to order coffee, especially when trying to translate on the fly.
You can ask for Cafe au Lait. Your coffee will be a shot of espresso, served with a pitcher of steamed milk on the side.
Cafe au Lait gives you the ability to add milk to your taste preference.
Where a cup of Noisette will only have a dash of milk, you can order just a filtered cup of coffee, but traditionally the Cafe au Lait will be served as an espresso.
Do not let the closeness of names confuse you. A latte in America is not a cafe au lait.
The American version often has chicory added for flavor. American lattes tend to have more milk and a small amount of foam.
American lattes usually have a flavor of some type added to them, where a cafe au lait is served straight. Lattes are typically made with espresso, and a cafe au lait is made using strong coffee.
These coffees are usually served with a pitcher of steamed milk that allows you to control the milk portion.
Fans of filtered black coffee will undoubtedly be looking for Cafe Americain.
While the French general does not drink this option, it is offered for tourists. It is the closest to a cup of black coffee that you will find.
Un Cafe Filtre is considered and often called American coffee.
Unlike the American tradition of a bottomless cup, your coffee cup will not be receiving a refill. Cafe Americain is the closest to an americano that you will find. It is one or two shots of espresso mixed with hot water.
Traditionally France uses one of two types of coffee beans.
The bitter Robusta coffee bean, with its harsh rich taste. The second option is the more subtle and higher quality Arabica coffee bean. Your Americain will likely be made from one of these types of coffee beans.
If you desire a cup of black coffee, you can order un cafe.
In many cultures, it is customary to order “un cafe” after a meal. Traditionally ordered after a meal to aid in digestion, this is a standard cup of black coffee. If you would like a double shot, you can request a un double cafe.
Un Cafe Decaffeine
The coffee culture in France is awake and well at any time of day.
So, if you are looking to curb the caffeine habit or trying to deal with jet lag, you can ask for cafe decaffeine or un deca.
If you prefer to have one of the drinks above without the dose of caffeine, you can add the word deca into your other cafe orders.
Drinking coffee at a cafe before heading to dinner at one of Paris restaurants is an everyday occurrence. Some will even stop for an after-dinner un cafe while enjoying the evening air on the stroll home.
There was a time where it might have been considered a faux paux to order decaf coffee.
Some people say that the best experience with decaf was while in France. Here is a quick reminder to stick to the cafes that are known to serve quality coffee.
France is known for typically sticking to two types of coffee beans.
These two are known as the coffee of choice in France; Robusta and Arabica. Robusta beans are known for being the rough and tumble little brother of Arabica beans.
Robusta beans are considered less refined.
However, because they produce better crema, they are the most often chosen for espressos. The two varieties of coffee beans come from the same family but are different varieties and have additional flavor notes.
Arabica beans are considered the more refined in terms of flavor.
Arabica coffee beans contain less caffeine than Robusta beans. Arabica coffee has flavor notes of sugar and chocolate.
According to Perk Coffee, over 60% of the world’s coffee production comes from producers of Arabica coffee beans.
Iconic Coffee Culture
French Cafe culture is iconic. It is a world that has been attached to images of people leisurely drinking coffee and reading. The picture of full cafes might become a thing of the past.
Bans on smoking combined with the invention of at-home coffee makers have created less draw to cafes. News sourcing being more readily available via electronics.
In the past, the village cafe might have been the only place with a television. Now, we all carry one in our pockets.
Social Media has replaced in-person political discussions.
Many societal changes occurred since the height of the Paris Cafe scenes that have been embedded in our brains. This change does not mean that it has to be this way. Community building requires intentionality.
The intentionality of building places that bring us together is the heart of what created the iconic French Cafe photographs we have all enjoyed. It is possible and even desirable that we do the same thing again.
So, cheers to a hot cup of espresso, a pastry, and community.
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