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I am a coffee addict. I know a lot of people say that but it is painfully true for me, I literally get headaches if I don’t get my fix in the morning. While I do need milk in it, I am definitely the strong coffee kind of gal.

In my opinion it comes down to the stronger/more the better which is why I came to love that symbol of capitalism and global gentrification: Starbucks.

It’s strong, you get to add as much or as little milk as you like, it’s a lot for a comparable low price and they let you stick around for hours while offering free wi-fi.

If you’ve ever been to France, you know what’s coming: France is not the place for that kind of coffee addiction.

There was a line out the door! I figured this would be great...

Now picture this: I am walking around the old town, taking in all the sunny goodness of the Côte d’Azur and think to myself:  “I could use some coffee right now”. So I walk into a nice and fancy looking place and apply my best french and smile by saying: “Un café s’il vous plaît”.

The feeling I had when the barista placed the result of my order in front of me can only be described as utter disappointment.

Now I am not saying that France doesn’t have good coffee. There are a bunch of lovely places with hight tech coffee presses that use great quality beans and brew fresh to order. But it comes in a cup the size of my thumb!

So I did a little research and a little talking to the right people and am giving you the Top 5 things to know to maneuver your way to the fulfillment of your caffeine craving in a French café:

1. First and foremost: French “café” is not your ordinary filter coffee – it is what most other people would call “espresso”.  Strong, brewed my shooting pressurized  hot water through finely ground coffee, served in a teeny tiny cup. If you ask for “un café”, this is what you get.

2. Café Noisette: Literally means “hazelnut coffee” resulting from its rich brown color produced by a splash of cream in the espresso. Equally tiny, just a little less strong.

3.Café au lait: Roughly equals a “latte” with its base being espresso served in a bigger cup that gets filled up with milk.

4.Café American: Now the opinions on this one are twofold: Some people insist that this is filtered coffee, others say ( and that has been my experience) that this is espresso served in a big cup simply filled up with water. This especially makes sense since it essentially goes along with what Starbucks calls “Americano”.

5. Never order coffee to accompany any kind of meal other than breakfast. Having some tarte au chocolat as dessert and want some coffee with that? Forget about it, the waiter will look at you as if you just dropped from outer space. I know, the urge is there but just don’t do it.

I love France. I do. But I can’t wait for the day when I can walk into a Starbucks again and order a nice and simple coffee, Venti please!

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