August 10, 2016

Coffee Quirks In Paris

Staying in the shade. Hydrating often. #canicule #Paris #café

So I was at one of those Brooklyn-style coffee places and apparently committed the ultimate faux-pas; I asked for a dry cappuccino.

Oh my god, you should have seen the contemptuous look I got. And I could just see her thinking, "oh great, another high maintenance foreigner."
I promise you, I was not trying to be difficult! I just like my cappuccino a certain way - with a bit less milk and more foam - drier than the way they are usually made. Also, because most baristas don't know how to properly make velvety, creamy foam anyway, I feel like I'm letting them off the hook.

I kindly explained that I preferred my cappuccino with as much mousse as possible and she just stood there, staring. So I explained it again. She continued to look at me doubtfully so I told her that many years ago I was a barista in Seattle and that I really loved more foam and didn't like a milky cappuccino and could she please adapt it slightly for my taste?
"So, you would like une noisette?" she said.
"Non," I responded.
I patiently explained my order a third time.
She then refused, citing the fact that we must "respect the parameters" of a cappuccino.

Um, what?

Maybe I'm late to the party, but are there now strict rules that govern the making of a cappuccino that I'm unaware of? Has it recently been granted a denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) or something?

un p'tit café

At the Café
This is just another reason* why I usually go to the traditional, old style cafés. I would rather pay €2 for a decent café noisette at a classic French café than have to beg some 20 year old to please, please make my cappuccino a bit dry, only to have them either refuse or ignore me, and pay €5 for the privilege.

So, my Parisian friends, can you recommend some places that make killer coffee and that will accept my "eccentric" cappuccino order? 

* also, I think latte art is lame

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Richard Ewen said...

When you are in France you are going to run into this attitude everywhere. Since most coffee specialty cafes in Paris make better coffee than the typical cafe, you are a victim of the French attitude but still ahead of what you would get at Starbucks. When I started going to Paris regularly in the late 80s, there were very few good coffee places in France or the US. Now Italy? Well even on the Autostrada the stops had great coffee.
Now in Paris we make our own espressos and dry caps in our apartment in the morning and then follow the lists of coffee specialty houses where we get our second and third caps. Go to, or to begin your search.
There are other lists that you can find. There are many places in the US where the baristas have attitude and don't really know how to make a good coffee to order. It not just the French, although that same attitude exists in many other shops as well.

Taste of France said...

I have never heard of a "dry" cappuccino--at first, I thought, What? Everybody has been getting booze in their coffee? How did I miss that memo?
We just got one of these American-style coffee joints in Carcassonne. It is mobbed. I haven't tried to ask for a dry cappuccino. And don't you often end up with whipped cream when you ask for a cappuccino? I usually order a café crème to be sure to get foamed milk and not chantilly.

JimRuocco said...

Jennifer, you speak the truth. I feel your pain. I, too, am particular about certain coffees and how they are made including cappuccino.

LisaW said...

Oh, I certainly hope they don't put whipped cream on & call it a cappuccino! That's just wrong!

David said...

It's funny because in the U.S., they look at me funny when I order a "wet" cappuccino. (I, on the other hand, don't like foam...) I do wish the cafés in Paris would use fresh milk rather than the UHT sterilized milk - especially with all the lovely milk you can find in France...

Jennifer Greco said...

I so wish the coffee here were as good as it is in Italy...
Thank you for the links!

Taste of France
I remember the traditional French cafés down south topping a cappuccino with whipped cream as well, that's why I never ordered them. :) I've never tried ordering one here in Paris so not sure if that is a regional thing? I usually get une noisette in an old style café.

Jennifer Greco said...

In general, I am a very low maintenance coffee drinker, but when it comes to a cappuccino, I have a preference. Which I think is ok. :)

They do in the south, or where we lived in the south anyway. Bizarre!

Jennifer Greco said...

That is strange! It's a legitimate coffee order.
I never thought about the fresh milk thing here, but you're right. I wonder if it's a cost issue?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, (and you shouldn't have to) ask for an espresso in a large cup with LOTS of foam. I agree with you that you shouldn't have to be put in this situation to have it your way. I used to work in a coffee shop, well before Starbucks, and I perfected the foam technique. It's very hard to find someone who makes exceptional foam. I wish I could go behind the counter and say, this is how you do it....but I tend to refrain from doing that. ;)

cul_de_sac said...

I am so tired of these cafés making coffee like they are performing a freaking heart transplant (I'm looking at you, Tim Wendelboe in Oslo)!!! LOL In Italy you get a mad bomb espresso in like 30 seconds, while these dweeb coffee surgeons take 5 minutes to make a crappy acidic one.

Jennifer Greco said...

I should try that sometime and see what happens. :) And yes, I sometimes wish I could go behind the counter and show them how it's done. Can you imagine the look on their faces?!?
Instead, I've simply stopped going to these types of cafés.

Every time I'm in Italy and am served fabulous coffee, no bells and whistles, no pretension, no attitude, it makes me long to live there instead of France. :)