Bonjour fellow coffee lovers! One of the great pleasures of visiting France is enjoying the art of coffee done the French way. But looking at a typical French coffee menu can be confusing with all the options like café, café crème, café au lait, and more.

I’m a coffee addict living in France and today I’ll walk you through how to order coffee like a true Parisian by breaking down a typical French coffee menu. We’ll cover all the classic French coffee preparations along with how they differ in taste, recommended pairings, and any special ordering etiquette.

Whether you prefer a strong, small shot of espresso or a frothy, milky café crème, you’ll learn how to confidently order exactly the French coffee drink you want. I’ll also share tips to help you navigate some potentially confusing menu terms. By the end of this post, the French coffee menu will hold no secrets for you. So grab a croissant and get ready to dive into how to master the art of ordering coffee in France like a pro!

Un Café/Espresso

In France, a “un café” refers to a small but strong shot of black coffee, commonly known as an espresso elsewhere. This kind of coffee is highly popular and is typically consumed quickly, often while standing at the bar in cafes. A great way to start your morning or to round off a meal, the espresso is a staple in the French coffee culture, characterized by its intense flavor and thick consistency.

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In the evening, espressos in restaurants are often served with small chocolates.

Café Allongé

The café allongé is essentially a watered-down version of a regular espresso, akin to what is known as a “long black” in other parts of the world. It’s prepared by adding hot water to a shot of espresso, making it somewhat lighter in flavor and larger in volume. This drink is perfect for those who prefer a milder coffee experience, as it offers a balanced and less concentrated taste compared to an espresso.

Café Noisette

A café noisette is a delightful coffee option in France that consists of a shot of espresso with a dash of hot milk or cream, lending a “hazelnut” color to the beverage, hence the name. The combination of the rich espresso with the smooth addition of milk makes for a harmonious taste experience. It is excellent for the strength of espresso with a softened, creamy edge.

Café Americano

Café Americano, known as a popular choice around the world, is also enjoyed in France. It is made by adding a good amount of hot water to an espresso shot, diluting the concentration slightly and offering a different flavor profile. This coffee option is appreciated for its versatility, serving as a familiar choice for tourists and a milder alternative to the traditional espresso for locals.

Café Crème

The café crème is a popular French coffee that is quite similar to a latte. It includes an espresso shot mixed with a generous amount of steamed milk and topped with a thin layer of foam. This creamy, luxurious coffee is ideal for those who prefer a smoother and milder coffee experience. Often enjoyed in the morning or as a comforting afternoon treat, it offers a harmonious blend of robust coffee and creamy milk.

French coffee menu drinks cafe creme madeleine paris IMG_9181


While not traditionally French, the cappuccino has found its place in France’s coffee scene. It comprises equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, offering a delightful and well-balanced coffee choice. Generally enjoyed during breakfast or brunch, it pairs wonderfully with a croissant or a piece of French pastry, making for a truly indulgent coffee break.

Café Viennois

Café Viennois is a rich and decadent coffee choice in France, featuring a shot of espresso topped with whipped cream. The contrast between the bitter espresso and the sweet, velvety cream makes for a unique and indulgent coffee experience. This beverage is often enjoyed as a dessert coffee, perfect for rounding off a delicious French meal with a touch of sweetness.

Coffee Alternatives


Thé, or tea, is also a common choice in French cafes. From black, and green to herbal teas, it serves as a gentle alternative to coffee. Whether you are starting your day calmly with a hot cup of tea or enjoying an afternoon break, thé is a staple in French beverage culture, known for its soothing properties and diverse flavor profiles.

Chocolat Chaud

Lastly, the chocolat chaud, or hot chocolate, is a beloved beverage in France, especially during the colder months. Made with rich, high-quality chocolate and steamed milk, it is a luxurious treat that is both comforting and indulgent. Enjoyed by both children and adults alike, a cup of chocolat chaud is a perfect way to warm up and savor a moment of sweetness in the bustling French cafes.

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