Bonjour coffee lovers! On crisp Parisian mornings, there may be nothing more satisfying than warming your hands around a hot café crème or latté and watching the city wake up. With its strong café culture, Paris offers no shortage of spots to sip a steaming cup of flavorful, aromatically-charged coffee.

I’m a coffee addict, and I can’t have breakfast in Paris without a cup of coffee. Today I’m serving up my list of spots that brew up the best coffee in Paris. From cozy third-wave cafés to historical literary hangouts, I’ll share where you can find the perfect cup of coffee paired with that je ne sais quoi Parisian charm.

You’ll learn where to go for your standard café au lait or espresso, as well as get the scoop on sipping some unique French coffee drinks. By the time you reach the end, you’ll have all the caffeine knowledge you need to fuel your exploration of Paris. So come along for a caffeinated journey through my favorite coffee joints in Paris!

Is Paris known for good coffee?

Traditionally, Parisian coffee was not highly regarded due to the use of robusta beans, which tend to offer a stronger and more bitter taste compared to the often preferred arabica beans.

However, in recent years, the city has witnessed a surge in specialty coffee shops. These spots prioritize high-quality, arabica beans and often employ skilled baristas who are well-trained in brewing techniques, which has led to a noticeable improvement in the quality of coffee available in Paris.

It is thankfully now possible to find high-end coffee shops offering good, if not exceptional, coffee!

Types of Coffee in Paris

There are two main types of coffee you can find in Paris: specialty and traditional.

Traditional Coffee

Traditional coffee in Paris, often brewed by cafés and restaurants using Cafés Richard, a well-known French roaster, generally adheres to classic French coffee principles. Founded in 1892, Cafés Richard has contracts with almost all the cafés in Paris it seems, and they provide both robusta and arabica beans.

Traditional Cafés Richard Coffee Paris
Cafés Richard Coffee

Traditional Parisian coffee has a strong and somewhat bitter profile due to the intense robusta beans or a blend containing a substantial proportion of robusta.

In many traditional cafés in Paris, you’ll find staple coffee such as espresso, café crème (comparable to a latte), and noisette (like a macchiato), brewed using Cafés Richard beans.

The brand emphasizes preserving the French coffee tradition, often characterized by a dark roast profile, which contributes to a bold flavor in the brewed coffee. This style of coffee is enjoyed by many locals, often with classic French pastries or desserts.

Specialty Coffee

Over the last few years, the specialty coffee scene in Paris has expanded significantly. A growing number of cafes are focusing on offering high-quality, specialty coffee. These cafes often source their beans from reputable suppliers and work closely with skilled roasters to bring out the best flavors in the beans.

Specialty coffee at agnès b. in Paris
Specialty coffee at agnès b. in Paris

These coffee shops usually employ trained baristas who are knowledgeable about various brewing methods. This development in the Parisian coffee culture has attracted appreciation from locals and visitors alike, who are now able to enjoy a range of specialty coffees in the city.

Coffee Drinks in Paris

In Paris, many types of coffee drinks can be found. Here is a list of some of the popular choices!

Traditional Café Coffee Menu

These French coffee drinks are served in traditional Paris cafés.

  • Un Espresso/Un Café: A small but strong shot of coffee, enjoyed quickly while standing at the bar in traditional Parisian cafes.
  • Café Crème: Close to a latte, it consists of a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and a small amount of foam.
  • Noisette: Similar to a macchiato, it is an espresso with a small bit of milk or milk foam added to it.
  • Café Allongé: An espresso that has been diluted with hot water, similar to an Americano.
  • Café Filtre: A traditional filtered black coffee, often served in a larger cup compared to an espresso.
  • Café au Lait: A coffee made with equally brewed coffee and hot milk.
  • Café Serre: A stronger version of espresso with less water.
  • Café Viennois: A luxe coffee treat, consisting of espresso mixed with hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream.
  • Café Frappé: A cold coffee drink, made with espresso mixed with ice and sometimes sugar.
  • Cappuccino: Though not traditionally French, it is found in many cafes, made with espresso, hot milk, and topped with milk foam.

Specialty Coffee Shop Menu

In a specialty coffee shop in Paris, you can expect to find a curated menu that focuses on highlighting the quality and characteristics of high-grade coffee beans. Here are some common drinks you might find:

  • Single-Origin Espresso: A shot of espresso made with beans from a single geographical location, showcasing the unique flavor profile of that region.
  • Flat White: Similar to a latte, but with a higher ratio of coffee to milk, and a velvety milk texture.
  • Latte: A creamy coffee drink made with one or more shots of espresso and steamed milk, typically topped with a little milk foam. It offers a balanced flavor profile with a smooth texture.
  • Cappuccino: A classic Italian coffee drink, popular worldwide, made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The layer of foam on top is a distinctive feature, often garnished with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon.
  • Iced Coffee: Coffee brewed with cold water over an extended period, offering a smooth and less acidic flavor, served with ice.
  • Pour-Over: A manual brewing method where hot water is poured evenly over ground coffee, emphasizing the nuanced flavors of the beans.
  • Chemex: A type of pour-over coffee characterized by a clean and complex flavor profile, made using a special glass vessel.
  • Mocha: A chocolate-flavored variant of a café latte, combining espresso with hot chocolate and steamed milk.

Specialty coffee shops in Paris often also offer a selection of pastries or light bites.

Famous Coffee Shops in Paris

The most famous coffee shops in Paris tend to be the more traditional cafés with sidewalk seating. Paris hosts several prominent and beloved coffee shops where you can enjoy a great cup of coffee.

Café de Flore is one of the oldest and most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris, known for its historical connections with writers and philosophers.

Coffee at Les Deux Magots, Paris

Another historic café famous for its literary past, Les Deux Magots has been frequented by renowned figures like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Best Coffee Shop in Paris

For specialty coffee, the best coffee shop in Paris if you ask me is Café Kitsuné, which has multiple locations around the city. My favorite thing to do is visit Café Kitsuné in Palais Royal, grab a latte, and walk around the park enjoying the stunning architecture and fresh flowers in bloom if it’s spring!

Other highly rated coffee shops in Paris include:

  • KB CaféShop: A great spot for people-watching on a large square with excellent coffee and a casual, friendly atmosphere.
  • Coutume Café: A modern coffee shop with a food menu, well-regarded for its focus on serving high-quality, specialty coffee with a scientific approach to brewing.
  • The Broken Arm: A trendy Haut Marais coffee shop located within a concept store, offering quality coffee and selling fashion and design.
  • Fringe: A cozy specialty coffee shop in the Marais and art space, brewing quality coffee along with photography books.
  • Telescope: A compact, minimalist coffee shop near Les Halles with an emphasis on quality and simplicity, serving excellent espresso and filter coffee.

How to Order Coffee in Paris

Ordering coffee in Paris is a straightforward process once you’re familiar with the French terms and the customs of Parisian cafés and coffee shops. Here’s a guide to help you!

Begin by greeting the staff with a friendly “Bonjour” (good morning) to show good manners.

In many cafés, you can choose to sit at the bar for a quicker and sometimes cheaper coffee or take a seat at a table for a more leisurely experience.

Memorize the French words for coffee drinks:

  • Espresso: Un café / Un express
  • Café Crème: A creamy coffee similar to a latte.
  • Noisette: A shot of espresso with a little milk or cream.
  • Café Allongé: An espresso diluted in hot water, akin to an Americano.
  • Café Filtre: Filtered black coffee.
  • Café au Lait: Coffee with hot milk.

When you are ready to order, catch the attention of the server and clearly state your choice, for example, “Un café, s’il vous plaît” (An espresso, please).

If you have specific preferences, don’t hesitate to specify, like “sans sucre” (without sugar) or “avec du lait” (with milk).

Once your coffee arrives, take your time to enjoy it. In Paris, it’s common to linger over your coffee without feeling rushed to leave.

When it’s time to leave, ask for the bill by saying “L’addition, s’il vous plaît” (The bill, please).

How the French Drink Coffee in Paris

In Paris, the way people enjoy coffee is often intertwined with the city’s cultural and social fabric. These are some typical practices and preferences when it comes to drinking coffee in Paris:

Morning Ritual: For many Parisians, the day begins with a cup of coffee for breakfast, usually drank with a croissant or a piece of baguette.

Espresso: Traditionally, Parisians prefer espresso or un café, which is a strong shot of coffee consumed quickly, sometimes standing by the bar in cafés for a lower price.

Leisurely Pace: Despite the irony of a “quick espresso,” Parisians enjoy their tiny coffees leisurely, especially at terrace cafés, where they can sit for extended periods, often accompanied by a newspaper or a book.

After Meals: Coffee is sometimes consumed after meals, especially lunch and dinner. It is usually ordered at the end of the meal, separate from dessert.

No Milk in the Evening: It’s uncommon to order coffee with milk, such as a café crème or latte, in the evening. These are generally reserved for the morning hours.

Socializing: Coffee serves as a pretext for socializing in France. Friends, colleagues, or lovers often meet up “for a coffee” to catch up or discuss things.

Café Gourmand: A popular French tradition is the “café gourmand,” which is a tray that includes a shot of espresso and 3-5 miniature desserts.

Tipping: Tipping is not required in Paris, but some Parisians leave small change when paying for their coffee, especially if they are a regular at the spot.

Coffee and Croissants: Coffee is often enjoyed with baked goods, such as a croissant or other viennoiserie, especially in the morning.

Paris Coffee Culture

Cafés are undoubtedly a big part of the Paris coffee culture. Paris café culture is a prominent and cherished aspect of life in Paris, representing a confluence of social interaction, intellectual discourse, and the simple pleasure of enjoying a cup of coffee.

The most famous cafés in Paris serve as social hubs where people gather to chat, read, work, or people-watch. They are places where friends meet up, and sometimes, where new acquaintances are made.

Many Parisian cafés feature terrace and sidewalk seating, which is particularly popular. The terraces are often lined with rows of chairs facing the street, offering a prime spot for people-watching, a favored Parisian pastime.

Historically, Parisian cafés have been centers of intellectual discourse, attracting writers, artists, and philosophers. Even today, they retain a certain intellectual atmosphere, where lively debates and discussions can be overheard.

I hope these Paris coffee insights helped you get a sense of the coffee culture in Paris and how locals enjoy this beloved beverage!

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One Comment

  1. How does Cafés Richard’s long-standing dominance in supplying coffee to cafés and restaurants across Paris contribute to maintaining and preserving the traditional French coffee culture, particularly in terms of the beans they offer and their adherence to classic brewing principles?

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