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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Coffees and cafés

A winter day in February

 The local viticulturists are now relaxing - they have pruned all the vines, the skies are blue most of the time and the countryside, an amazing tapestry of colors, the sort that inspires painters.

The days, though, are still cold even here in the South so I very often take refuge in my local café after an exhilarating long walk amongst the vines and olive trees. Despite the name – Café de Paris, this is a quiet place, a totally unpretentious rural café in a small town. I go there to take in the ambiance, to observe, to listen to the locals exchanging mandate chit chat; this is after all a way of life in France, even more so in the little towns and villages.
Locals will often meet up in the local café ordering a warm alcoholic drink, or perhaps a coffee. Those who come for the coffee will mostly ask for un café, un petit café, or un expresso. They get a small cup of strong black coffee with only 2 calories. Those who like it stronger will ask for un café serré and believe me, it is strong.
Coffee with milk can be either un café noisette, which is a small cup of expresso with a dash of milk or cream or café crème, an expresso with hot milk served in a large cup.

If you plan to visit France here’s what you need to know:
--You have your coffee after your meal.  The waiter will not be impressed if you order it with your dessert.

--Forget about take away coffee in France; you don’t consume your coffee in the street.

--Don’t order café au lait; order instead a café crème or un grand crème if you’d like a larger cup.

--If you are in a hurry, then have your coffee at the bar and pay less.

Bonjour, un café si’il vous plaît

A café in Nice made the news recently when the owner, wanting to make a point to customers who barged in and ordered coffee, upped the prices for coffee.
Manager, Fabrice Pepino started charging his stressed out and busy customers 7 euros for a coffee if they didn’t include please at the end of their order and 4.25 euros for a coffee with please at the end. If they said, ‘Hello, a coffee please,’ they were rewarded. The price for these ultra polite customers -- a more reasonable 1.4O euros.

His plan to remind customers to be polite worked. Pepino said it made a difference almost immediately and he didn’t have to enforce the price scheme for very long. He said his customers are more relaxed these days.

Café de Paris; always a warm welcome from the friendly owner

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