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Café – How to say and order coffee in French

Café – How to say and order coffee in French

Bonjour! I’m David – online French teacher, word of the day writer and coffee lover! Today we’ll have a close look at the word café, meaning coffee and café (English borrow word from French). We’ll discover how to order coffee in French and look at the different kinds of coffee on the menu in France. “Un café, s’il vous plait!” (a coffee please!).

le café

coffee, café

Le café = Coffee and café in French

Café: Coffee in French

Word origin

According to Wikipedia, café (coffee) in French comes from kahve in Ottoman Turkish, which in turn comes from qahwah in Arabic.

Example sentences

These first two example sentences are autobiographical. Somehow I manage to limit myself to deux tasses (two cups) of coffee per day.

En général, je prends deux tasses de café par jour.

I generally have two cups of coffee per day.

For this second example sentence, accro is slang for dépendant, which means “addicted to”. Depuis means “since” in French and we explore the word in detail in this lesson. This lesson covers how to talk about age in French.

Je suis accro au café depuis l’âge de douze ans.

I’ve been addicted to coffee since I was twelve years-old.

This next example sentence plays into a common French stereotype of American coffee. Some readers may agree; some may disagree. Dégueulasse is a slang adjective for gross or disgusting.

Les Français disent souvent que le café américain est dégueulasse.

The French often say the American coffee is disgusting.

Ordering coffee in French

These next three example sentences show how to order a coffee in French. The French use the verb prendre (to take) where English speakers would say “I’d like” or “I’ll have”. Note that in France, if you order “un café” you’ll most likely be served a small espresso without any milk. Further down the page we’ve listed the kinds of coffee you can order.

Je prends un café, s’il vous plaît.

I’ll have a coffee, please.

In France, it’s practically unheard of to be given a milk with coffee. In fact, if you even attempt to ask for it after you’ve paid, the sever may give you a nasty look (based on my experience in Paris). If you want milk with your coffee, you must say say une dosette de lait, s’il vous plaît while ordering the coffee. Une dosette translates loosely to “a small portion”. The milk will cost you a little extra.

Je prends une dosette de lait, s’il vous plaît.

I’ll have some milk on the side, please.

The following example sentence shows how to ask for sugar. Again, use je prends for “I’ll have”. Note that to be a bit more polite you could also say this in the conditional tense: Je prendrais.

Je prends deux sucres, s’il vous plaît.

I’ll have two sugars, please.

Kinds of coffee in France

The following is a list of the kinds of coffee you’re likely to see on a menu in France. If you insist on having a coffee that’s similar to the coffee you’d get served in the North American, you may order a café américano or a café filtre and make it a point to ask for une dosette de lait (see above) while ordering.

Café – cafe, coffee shop

We’ve included this final example sentence to show that similar to English, a café is the place you can go for a coffee. The French use the verb rejoindre to express joining another person or group of people at an indicated place.

Je vous rejoins au café dans une heure.

I’ll join you at the café in one hour.


Et voilà ! You’re now an expert in using the word café in French! Now check out our lesson covering everything you need to know about ordering meals in restaruants!

Le café = Coffee in French
Le café = Coffee in French

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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