If you are curious about the type of coffee that French people love or simply looking for the meaning behind some of the French coffee names, then keep reading this article for a complete guide to French coffee culture.
What Is French Coffee?
French coffee simply refers to a particular way that French people enjoy, drink and brew their coffee.
The term “French coffee” does not necessarily mean that it is brewed using a French press or that French roast coffee beans are used.
The term simply refers to how people all over France, from Paris to the French Riviera and all over the country enjoy drinking coffee.
Let’s talk about a typical French coffee menu and what you might see on it.
Read: French coffee drinks
French Coffee Menu
If you have never been to France, sorry to break it to you, but the drinks’ menu at a French café is not full of French press coffee drinks.
There are some delightful beverages on the menu; here are some of the more popular ones.
Order this and expect a shot of espresso to be served in a demitasse cup. Other names are Petite café and Café noir.
This is what we would know as a caffe Americano. You will often see this on the menu as a café allongé.
Café Au Lait
A café au lait is not something that is seen too often on the menu of stylish cafés in French coffee culture. It’s something that is enjoyed at home when the French are in need of a caffeine kick. It’s brewed coffee with an equal amount of milk. Many coffee lovers call this a French latte, but it resembles a café misto.
This is a lot more like a latte than a café au lait. I’d be happy to call this a French latte that is made with cream instead of steamed milk.
Almost self-explanatory what this is as it self-translates. Filter coffee, more often than not it is drip coffee.
Iced coffee. All coffee drinks can be ordered with ice. They have the same iced coffee drinks in France as there is anywhere else in the world.
This, and you absolutely must take my word on this one, is a must-try while you are in France. If ever there is one French coffee drink to try, it is this. A café gourmand is a lovely cup of French coffee served with a delicious dessert or series of desserts to enjoy.
This French coffee “beverage”, I use the word beverage in parentheses because it is more of a coffee dessert than a coffee drink. It’s a very lightly sweetened coffee with coffee-flavored ice cream and rich Chantilly cream.
A very good description of this is to say that it is a French macchiato. A macchiato and a café noisette are slightly different.
An Italian macchiato is an espresso with a dollop of steamed milk and has some microfoam, a café noisette has a small splash of milk with no microfoam added.
The name is derived from the word noisette meaning hazelnut and the color of them matching the coffee beverage.
This is more of a Swiss drink than one that you would see a French person ordering. It is more like what the Spanish would call a café manchado. It’s a milk drink with a small stain of coffee added, very much the reverse of what a macchiato or café noisette is, hence the name.
This is a very strong and very small coffee drink. It’s half the size of an espresso made with the same amount of coffee and only half the amount of water. It’s strong and bitter.
This is a very decadent and delicious drink, literally translating to Viennese coffee. You might know it as an espresso con panna. A shot of espresso with whipped cream.
This is an abbreviation that you will hear, so commonly spoken that makes its way into everyday language. Un deca is an abbreviation meaning a decaffeinated coffee. At Latte Love Brew we encourage you to stick to the daily caffeine limits to avoid adverse effects. If you find yourself wanting to enjoy a coffee but have already hit your 400 mg daily limit enjoy a decaffeinated coffee.
French Coffee Culture – Milk, Sugar And Pastries
French people love to drink their coffee with milk and sugar just as much as anyone else does. What they are not into at all is flavored syrups in their coffee drinks.
When you see sugar, it is more often on your saucer in a sachet as you would expect.
I have noticed that some, not all, but frequent enough and common enough for me to notice that French people tend to dip a single sugar cube into their shots of espresso with their spoon, let it soak for a few moments and then eat it.
Early morning or mid-morning you will see French nationals enjoying a croissant, tartine or baguette and later in the afternoon sweet treats with their coffee like chocolate éclairs and other baked goods or pastries.
Do The French Really Use A French Press?
The French press, a very familiar full immersion brewing device that every coffee lover owner and uses for much more than brewing coffee, was invented in 1852 by two Frenchmen but was patented by two Italians in 1928.
The Italian version was a natural improvement on the original design and is the design that we are all familiar with.
Don’t go around thinking that you will find a French press in every coffee shop that you visit on your tour of France, far from it!
You will literally not find one.
you will find a French press in every home in the country, perhaps even more than one! What the Spanish and Italians are like with their Moka pots is how the French are with their French press.
You’ll only find a French press in specialty coffee shops. Mostly the coffee brewed in France is from an espresso machine.
Frequently Asked Questions About French Coffee
Does French Coffee Have Alcohol?
French coffee does not always have alcohol in it, but it is common for French people to put a shot of brandy, Cointreau or Kahlua in to their coffee after dinner to be enjoyed as a digestif and aid the digestion of food. This is actually very common all over Europe.
What Kind Of Coffee Do French People Drink?
The most commonly ordered and served coffee drink in France is “un café”, “un petite café” or “un café noir” which is the most famous strong back coffee in the world, a shot of espresso.
It’s not the only coffee drink; there are many other popular coffee beverages in France like a café crème, café au lait, café noisette, and café Viennois to name a few.
Is Brandy In A French Coffee?
Yes, it is common to add brandy, Armagnac or cognac to coffee in France, especially after a large or special meal. A French coffee with a shot of brandy is called a Parisian coffee or Café Royale.
What Coffee Is Paris known For?
Paris is known mainly for their espresso or espresso based coffee beverages. Café creme, café noisette, café creme noisette, are very popular coffee drinks in Paris.
Less popular in a Parisian coffee shop is a café au lait, which is more like a café misto than a latte. In French coffee culture, a cafe au lait is a drink that is enjoyed at home and not at a French café or during a coffee break at the office.
What Is A Latte Called In France?
The local coffee culture in France, it is not customary to enjoy flavored lattes or coffee beverages loaded with flavored syrups.
A latte per se in France you won’t find in their traditional street side coffee shops and cafeterias. A café au lait, made with strong black brewed coffee and steamed milk in equal amounts or with twice as much milk as coffee, is a lot more like a café misto than a latte.
The closest you will get to a latte is a café creme which is a shot of espresso with twice as much cream as there is coffee. It’s not quite a latte, but it is the closest that you will find in a traditional French coffee shop.
Why Do French Drink Coffee After Dinner?
Coffee is enjoyed after dinner all over continental Europe and not just France as an after dinner drink, no matter what time the meal is at, even late into the evening, as a digestive.
Final Thoughts – French Coffee
I hope that you enjoyed this guide to French coffee and French coffee culture. If you were struggling to understand the names of coffee drinks and what they are, simply print out or bookmark this page and use it for an easy reference.
Join our fun, fab and vibrant online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and share your French coffee creations, recipes and you funny memes, coffee jokes and inspirational quotes.