November 20, 2023

Un café, s.v.p.!

Besides saying ''Bonjour, merci & au revoir'', the next thing any expat living in or visiting a French speaking country must learn is how to order coffee. As everyone knows, ''a coffee a day keeps the grumpy away''!

Here are 5 Very Useful Tips to order your café en français!

1. Greet & Be Polite

  • Bonjour! (Good day!) Use at any time of the day, before 5 PM.
  • Bonsoir! (Good evening!) Use in the evening, if you feel adventurous enough to drink coffee after 5 PM!
  • Je voudrais un café, s'il vous plaît. (I would like a coffee, please.) You do not know the waiter and want to be polite.
  • Je vais prendre un café, s'il te plaît. (I'll have a coffee, please.) You know the waiter and want to be friendly.

Click below to listen to the pronunciation of these examples.

Make sure to use le conditionnel présent (je voudrais, j'aimerais, etc.) when ordering your coffee. This will make you sound more polite and respectful. Watch La recette de Grammaire of our Super Prof Marine Berthucat to review this important French verb tense.

2. Use The Right Vocabulary For The Perfect Coffee

  • un petit / moyen / grand café (a small / medium / large coffee)
  • avec un peu de / beaucoup de / sans sucre (with a bit of / a lot of / without sugar)
  • avec du lait écrémé / de soja (with skimmed milk / soja milk)
  • Je ne veux pas de mousse de lait, merci. (I don't want any milk foam, thanks.)

3. Add A Little Extra

  • Autre chose? / Avec ceci? (Anything else?)
  • Je voudrais un verre d'eau, s.v.p. (I would like a glass of water please.)
  • Je pourrais avoir un biscuit au chocolat, s.v.p.? (Could I have a chocolate cookie please?)
  • Je vais prendre une baguette au poulet. (I'll have a chicken baguette.)
  • Non, merci. C'est tout! (No, thank you. That is all.)

4. Make It Worth Your Money

  • Combien ça coûte? (How much does it cost?)
  • C'est / Ça fera 5 francs. (It is / That will be 5 CHF.)
  • Je peux payer par carte bancaire / avec VISA / en espèces? (Can I pay with debit card / with VISA / in cash?)
  • Vous voulez la quittance? (Would you like the receipt?)
  • le pourboire (the tip)

5. Choose Cafés With A Je-ne-sais-quoi!

Here is a small list of my favourite cafés around Geneva:

  • Boréal Café: this is the perfect place to enjoy a creamy latte or cappuccino in a relaxed,  cosy atmosphere. Students, young professionals, and chic bankers all share their passion for coffee in this unpretentious, yet very busy little café.
  • Les filles indignes: I just like everything about this lovely, hip café! Trendy decoration, delicious smoothies served in mason jars, amazing homemade soups, bagels, salads, quiches, and most importantly, very good coffee.
  • Café Rémor: charming, laid-back, with an impressive and always delicious menu du jour, this café/bistro doesn't offer the best coffee in town, but it certainly has this je-ne-sais-quoi which always makes you want to come back. Don't forget to check out the piano converted into a dessert display!


As a native Québécoise, born to a Franco-Belgian family, now living in Nyon with her two children, Isabelle is no stranger to the expat reality! Trained as a professional opera singer, her passion for arts and languages led her to become an ambassador of the French language & francophone culture, i.e. a French Teacher!

She founded Prêt à Parler in January 2015. Since then she's been hard at work helping native and non-native English-speaking expats make French part of their everyday life! Prêt à Parler's mission is based on what Isabelle does best: helping busy professionals and parents improve their French language skills by providing a high quality, eco-friendly, fun, no-nonsense approach to learning French online!

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