for someone who is a big fan of coffee and tea ive never been to paris and will be traveling there in may will i be satisfied and are there different varieties in terms of qualities id love to know because im very excited to see the diversity in foods in paris.

Posted by James E.
3221 posts

Coffee in Europe is somewhat different than what you are use to in the US. Its smaller and stronger. Most places will sell you a cup of American Coffee if you ask and sometimes its good, but not often. We love coffee too and the coffee is part of the experience but sometimes you just want want somethng familiar so to the shame and horror of Americans and Europeans alike i carry a bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee when i travel.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

Most coffee in Europe follows the Italian model, small cups of strong coffee (Esspresso) or mixed with various amounts of milk, foamed milk, or water to create other drinks. I love strong american style coffee, but generally don't care much for coffee in Europe. But maybe you'll like it? They seem to favor "Nespresso" machines here over freshly roasted and ground beans. Paris does like tea though, and you can find many "salon d'tee" (spelling?) in the city.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12661 posts

Coffee is somewhat different than what you would find at a Starbucks or coffee house in the US. The basic service is espresso served in a small cup. Americano or an American cup is not brewed coffee like the US. It is an espresso served with a large cup and a side of hot water (similar to what you get with tea in the US). You mix the two in the large cup. Some places may serve it mixed. IMPORTANT - refills are NOT free. Lattes and cappuccino generally viewed as breakfast drinks but American tourist order them all day long. You will not find the flavored coffee drinks typical of Starbucks nor whip cream added to the top. If you drink it standing at the coffee bar it will be cheaper than if you sit down at a table. James's posting reminded me of a posting a couple of years ago in regard to French coffee when the poster stated, "If you want a good cup of American coffee you have to bring your own instant coffee." I guess it what you are use to. In '93 we made our first trip to Italy and hit the first cafe and were hooked forever. Prior to that our coffee was ground coffee (Maxwell) in a standard coffee pot. After we returned we bought whole beans, a grinder, an espresso machine and never looked back. By our standards, Starbucks is somewhat marginal but tolerable. And that espresso machine still functions just fine especially when I look at the prices for the new ones.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3691 posts

I ask for American coffee all the time when I'm in Paris and I've always enjoyed it. I think I have good taste in coffee... Blue Bottle and Graffeo are my favorite. There are lots of Starbucks all over Paris as well, if you like their coffee, which I do. There's a fantastic place for tea in Paris called Mariage Freres, with several locations.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6095 posts

My son who is serious about his coffee says this about French coffee: "when you go from Italy to France, you trade great coffee (meaning espresso) and lousy bread for heavenly bread and lousy coffee." I guess that means you look for an Italian cafe in Paris if you want good coffee.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12661 posts

Do you have to carry in your bread? Guess that is better than instant coffee. Don't remember the French coffee being that bad but it has been a while.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
613 posts

And as I remember Rick talking about in one of his shows, be sure to get your caffeine fix at breakfast, that is drink as much as you can, after that you'll be charged for each individual cup, no refills.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3248 posts

I actually hate Starbucks coffee in the US, but it tastes great to me in Paris (maybe the ambience???) Seriously, it does not have the horrible, bitter after taste that it has here. And, other have noticed it as well. I typically drink lattes when I am there, but will drink just regular coffee with lots of cream.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

I too ignored starbucks at home (i'm from the bay area, we make a pastime out of having starbucks) but here it's the only place i order coffee when i'm out, because it's the only place doing a drip coffee (aka "american coffee"). i can't say if it tastes better here than in the states, i just know that it's better than lousy german coffee. italian style coffee is ok once in a while, but it's not what i'm really craving when i want a cup of coffee. i prefer to just make it at home, both in the US and abroad. French roast (why can't i get a proper cup of french roast coffee in france?! what does french roast actually mean?!), freshly ground beans, nice and strong, no need for sugar or cream. perfect.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3249 posts

David Lebovitz is an American food writer living in Paris who has a very entertaining blog on food and life in Paris. I've posted a link to a post on coffee: Where to find a good cup of coffee in Paris

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

@Sarah, "what does french roast actually mean?" French roast Coffee is roasted to a greater degree than other types, giving it a darker and stronger character. Italian roast is darker yet, and the full city roast used by Starbuck's is lighter. The range goes from green beans to Spanish roast (which is REALLY dark and almost burnt). The characteristics of the coffee will also vary according to the origin and type of beans used (ie: Mocha, Java, Kona, etc), almost like the terroir of wines. I use a custom blend at home from a local coffee roaster, and one component of the blend is French roast. @Matthew, As you're interested "to see the diversity in foods in Paris", try different types of coffee when you're there. That way you'll be able to decide for yourself what appeals to you. Cheers!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3912 posts

I cannot offer any comment on coffee in Italy since I haven't been there to try it. Traveling in Europe you notice the coffee culture is different from country to country as well as different from that in the US. The coffee in France I have found is the best over all, regardless where you get it. I prefer that to coffee anywhere else. Failing that, I'll take German coffee, although given the choice between Jacob's or Tchibo, I prefer Tchibo. No such thing as "lousy" German coffee. In Poland, at least at Poznan (Posen) main train station, I was glad to find that the cafe was serving German coffee...Jacob's....still a good choice. I don't patronise Starbucks in France, especially; in Germany only once in Berlin on Friedrichstrasse to see if the taste is the same as it is here. It isn't.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5379 posts

Loved the coffee in Italy, have found it horrid in Belgium on multiple trips and frankly hadn't had a cup to really rave about in France until this past Dec. when I was in Colmar. You will probably get lots of different kinds during your visit, and they will probably all be stronger than what one gets at a restaurant in the US. I pretty much always like the coffee in Germany, and many of the places I go to grind their beans fresh. My favorite cafe even roasts their own beans.

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

I'd stick with the pastries and skip being excited about the coffee. I've had some OK coffee, but overall it is pretty lousy compared to what I hold to be good coffee. That said, please note where I am from. The culture and cafe culture is something to experience, but the coffee itself? Not so much.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
2388 posts

There's a pricy but good tea place in the Galerie Vivienne with the rather cutesy name of "A Priori The". Generally in France ordering tea in cafes you're likely to get a small pot of hot water and a teabag.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

Reading this thread, I'm reminded of the "Why do I hate Venice?" thread. Tastes in coffee are as subjective as tastes in cities. I don't drink coffee, so I have no personal experiences to add. But I can say that my mother really likes it, and here are her experiences: She loved Turkish coffee in Turkey, but didn't like their "regular" coffee, which was Nescafe. In Germany, it varied - sometimes it was Nescafe, sometimes better brewed coffee. (She certainly wouldn't agree with the above post that there's no bad coffee in Germany, but she also had some that was fine). She loved coffee in France, but remarked how different it tasted from what is sold in the US as "French roast" (and not just the strength - the taste was different). And in the US, she likes Dunkin' Donuts coffee, but doesn't like Starbucks. So, Matthew, will you be satisfied? You'll only know the answer when you go.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3248 posts

@Harold... you mom and I would agree on the coffee. Most coffee in the US is just too bitter for me and Dunkin Donuts (with lots of cream) is the least offensive. I totally agree that the European coffee is different than here (maybe its the water) But, I have always had great coffee when I am there except for the dreaded and much advertised Nescafe that I had while traveling in the Eastern countries. Yuk... Avoid at all costs.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1730 posts

Just a wild guess here, but I bet that most of you who are really picky about your coffee (dare I say...snobs?) drink it black. Take a tip from Terry Kathryn and me and add a little cream and sugar. It's quite nice that way! You wouldn't try to consume chocolate without adding cream and sugar, would you?

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

All that crap has calories and other unhealthy stuff .....which would cut in to your lard allowance. No way.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
708 posts

Actually Karen, I prefer chocolate that's at least 95% cocoa. The more bitter, the better. Similarly, I don't put cream or sugar in my coffee...

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

Yeah I do drink my coffee black, or at least I prefer to, and that's why I haven't been fond of the coffee I've had in Germany and much of France. If I am desperate for caffiene now I order a milchkaffee which is far more palatable, but in general I like my coffee calorie-free.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

"All that crap has calories and other unhealthy stuff .....which would cut in to your lard allowance. No way." I most definitely agree with Ed! One has to keep the "lard allowance" in mind. And I DO drink my coffee black. I can tolerate Starbucks once in awhile, and I differ from many Canadians as I DON'T like Tim Horton's Coffee. There's usually a lineup a block long with the Lemmings waiting for their TH Coffee in the mornings. We have some better choices in this area for a good cup of coffee. Cheers!

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1544 posts

I'm not a big fan of expresso, but this past year in France I became a fan of "cafe allonge"-- expresso with a shot of hot water -- like good black coffee.
This and capuccino for breakfast were my favorite coffee drinks there.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8720 posts

Ken, of all the obsenities I have seen on this forum over the years, what you just posted was absolutely the worst. NOT LIKE TIM HORTONS,,, thats it, you are out of here, meet at the border for compulsary expulsion.. ( ha ha,, I love Timmys and consider the Starbuck people the "lemmings" cause I can't imagine drinking that nasty stuff and paying 5 bucks for it as a pleasure!!) I have to go now and take a headache pill, I am just too shocked by Kens post...

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
207 posts

The only places in Europe where I have had bad cups of coffee (read: too weak) are at the airports. Except at FCO. The espresso there was just as good as in central Rome.

Posted by Peter
Fort Nelson, Canada
53 posts

I agree Pat. I'm not sure I can trust any of Kens posts from this point forward, and I'm questioning his nationality!!

Posted by Will
Columbia, SC
335 posts

Reminds me of going into the little Canadian shop on the Army base in Heidelberg... I meant to ask the clerk jokingly if he had any Tim Horton's donuts-- except I got the name wrong (I had been to Canada once ten years before). I said Tom Johnson's or something. The guy just looked at me blankly. It took me a while to realize my stupid mistake!

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
341 posts

One of the things I find in Italy and France is the general lack of coffee cream. You can get milk, but generally coffee cream is harder to find. In grocery stores in Italy, I've found UHT coffee cream in individual servings from Germany like you find in restaurants here in North America. I have not been able to find the same in France. If you like cream in your coffee, I think you will be out of luck. Sometimes I've found 15% cream in the grocery stores in France which is better than using full fat cream or trying to mix milk and cream. I generally stay in apartments and I have a collapsible Melitta type coffee filter which I take with me along with coffee filters. But when I'm out, I have espresso. In Provence I would ask for cafe au lait (coffee with milk - which is generally a breakfast drink). In Strasbourg which has been both French and German in the past, cafe au lait was coffee with milk and they also had cafe creme which was American style coffee with cream. So I suspect that there are also regional differences. If you like tea, you should have no problem - also herbal teas are widely available (tisane in French). Have fun trying out the different types of coffee.

Posted by Kim
975 posts

My Italian, very picky husband (he's a sommelier by profession, so his senses of smell and taste are very important to him, and of course Italians by definition are picky about coffee, so count him double) would agree totally with Lola, Jo, and Nicholas that coffee in France in general is vastly inferior to that in Italy. If he absolutely needs a cup here, he looks for an Illy or Segafredo sign, calculating that it's more likely that an establishment that is paying the money to provide these brands will also have invested in training its staff how to make a cup correctly. (Me, I have a cup about every three months, if that, and when I do it's one of those frothy sugary Starbucks confections, so I'm clearly not a player in this discussion!!!)