Is there anything more cliché than a café and a croissant at a Parisian café terrace? As in many countries, coffee is an important part of French culture.
Therefore, it’s very useful to learn the terminology around coffee in French, whether you’re a coffee person or not. And if you’re not, check out these other drinks in French.
This article covers:
- How do you say coffee in French? This is a very important, and probably one of the most international hot beverages, a quintessential drink for many, so we’ll teach you a few various types.
- How to order coffee in French, so you’re always prepared when you really need your coffee fix.
- Things to know about coffee in France, to have a better understanding of the language AND culture.
- And many more!
So grab a cup of joe and let’s dive in!
How to say coffee in French
You probably already know the word “café”, which means both the drink and the place that serves it. Plural is “cafés”. A cup of coffee in French is literally “Une tasse de café”, but most people will just say “Un café”.
Although there’s no word for coffee in French slang, some people just say “caf’” or “cawa”.
Below is a practical table for all your coffee needs.
Note: Unless you’re in a large city — where you’ll find your typical Seattle coffee chain and other similar ones — coffee options in France are generally more limited than in the US. Basically, don’t expect to find your PSL, or anything fancy, at a random French café!
Types of coffee you can order in French
From iced coffee in French to black coffee in French, we’ve included options for all tastes.
|Latte / coffee with milk||Café au lait||kafe o le|
|Iced coffee||Café glacé/Café frappé||kafe glase/kafe fɾape|
|Black coffee||Café noir||kafe nwaɾ|
|A cup of coffee||Une tasse de café||ynə tasə də kafe|
|Decaf coffee||Café décaféiné||kafe dekafeine|
|Coffee with cream||Café crème||kafe kɾɛmə|
|Americano||Café allongé||kafe alõʒe|
|Ristretto||Café serré||kafe sɛre|
|Viennese coffee (with whipped cream)||Café viennois||kafe vjɛnwa|
|Filtered coffee/Regular coffee||Café filtre/Café régulier (Québec only)||kafe filtɾɛ/kafe ɾeglje|
More notable coffee vocab
Sometimes, the call of coffee is very strong. Almost as strong as a ristretto. From “I need coffee in French” to “coffee break in French”, here are a few handy expressions for when your batteries are low.
|Do you want coffee?||Voulez-vous un café ?/Veux-tu un café ?||vule-vuz‿ œ̃ kafe ?/vø-ty œ̃ kafe ?|
|Coffee break||Pause café||pozə kafe|
|I need coffee!||J’ai besoin d’un café !||ʒe bəswɛ̃ dœ̃ kafe !|
|I’m sure you want a coffee!||Vous prendrez bien un petit café !||vu pɾɑ̃dɾe bjɛ̃n‿ œ̃ pəti kafe !|
|Can I offer you a coffee?||Je peux vous offrir un café ?/Je peux t’offrir un café ?||ʒə pø vuz‿ ɔfɾiɾ œ̃ kafe ?/ʒə pø tɔfɾiɾ œ̃ kafe ?|
|Let’s talk over a cup of coffee.||On peut en discuter autour d’un café.||õ pøt‿ɑ̃ diskyte otuɾ dœ̃ kafe.|
|Do you want to have coffee?||Voulez-vous aller boire un café ? Tu veux aller boire un café ?||vule-vuz‿ ale bwaɾ œ̃ kafe ? ty vøx‿ ale bwaɾ œ̃ kafe ?|
|Let’s have coffee.||On se prend un café ?||õ sə pɾɑ̃d‿ œ̃ kafe ?|
|Let’s meet at the coffee machine.||On se retrouve à la machine à café ?||õ sə ɾətɾuv a la maʃin a kafe ?|
|Do you want to take a coffee break?||Voulez-vous prendre une pause café ?/Tu veux prendre une pause café ?||vule-vu pɾɑ̃dɾ ynə pozə kafe ?/ty vø pɾɑ̃dɾ ynə pozə kafe ?|
How to order coffee in French
Knowing how to order coffee in French is almost — almost — as important as knowing how to ask where the bathroom is. What? It can save your life!
|Coffee, please.||Un café, s’il vous plaît.||œ̃ kafe, sil vu ple.|
|I’d like a coffee, please.||Je voudrais un café, s’il vous plaît.||ʒə vudɾɛz‿ œ̃ kafe, sil vu ple.|
|Black coffee, please.||Un café noir, s’il vous plaît.||œ̃ kafe nwaɾ, sil vu ple.|
|Do you want coffee with this?
Yes, I’d like a coffee, thanks.
|Voulez-vous un café avec ceci ?
Oui merci, je veux bien un café.
|vule-vuz‿ œ̃ kafe avɛk səsi ?
wi mɛɾsi, ʒə vø bjɛ̃n‿ œ̃ kafe.
|How would you like your coffee?
With milk, please.
|Comment souhaitez-vous votre café ?
Au lait, s’il vous plaît.
|kɔmə su(e)te-vu vɔtɾə kafe ?
o le, sil vu ple.
|Could you please bring coffee with dessert?||Pouvez-vous s’il vous plaît amener le café et le dessert ensemble ?||puve-vu sil vu plɛt‿ aməne lə kafee lə dɛsɛɾt‿ ɑ̃sɑ̃blə ?|
|Two Americanos, please.||Deux cafés allongés, s’il vous plaît.||dø kafez‿ alõʒe, sil vu ple.|
|Two coffees, black, no sugar please.||Deux cafés noirs sans sucre, s’il vous plaît.||dø kafe nwaɾ sɑ̃ sykɾə, sil vu ple.|
Coffee in France: cultural considerations
- Much like alcohol, coffee is a social drink and often associated with meals.
- Coffee is a great way to socialize with someone you don’t know very well — yet. It’s less formal and less of a commitment than a meal. It also works for romantic interests!
- Speaking of romance, it’s a good idea to make coffee and go get croissants if you spent the night with someone. You might also want to learn to say “bonjour” the proper way in this situation.
- If you’re invited to a French person’s house, you’ll most likely be offered a coffee. You’re expected to do the same when having a French friend over.
- The word “café” is masculine. That’s interesting, because in 90% of the restaurants, the waiter or waitress will bring a coffee to the man, even if a woman ordered it. I’m not sure where this coffee discrimination comes from, but I’ve observed it since I was little!
- In many French restaurants, you’ll see “café gourmand” on the dessert menu. It’s usually a coffee with 2-3 tiny pastries, which, in my opinion, is rarely worth it as opposed to a full-size dessert. And believe me, you want that full-size mousse au chocolat.
- When following a recipe in French, you might see that “teaspoon” is “cuillère à café” (coffee spoon). Learn another interesting French cooking word here!
- In the “Nord” region of France, it’s customary to dip “Maroilles”, a strong cheese, in coffee. I can see your disgusted face right now. But you know, coffee: good, cheese: good.
Learning how to order a coffee can be useful anywhere in the world, so make sure to have a look at our multilingual coffee tour.
And if you had trouble learning the French words in this article, wake up and smell the coffee: it’s time to take a French course!
To top off our ode to coffee, listen to this beautiful song interlacing the French and Tunisian cultures: