The 5 Best French Coffee Brands (Plus Buying Tips!)

French coffee brands are famous for bold, dark, and smoky flavors. It’s perfect for those who need a drink to help them power through the day. 

Have we piqued your curiosity? Are you interested in trying one of these brews for yourself? 

Well, you’re in luck because, in this article, we’ve reviewed five of the best French coffee brands on the market. This guide also helps you identify the factors you need to consider when choosing one for your taste. Let’s get started!

Types of French Coffee

When you visit Europe, you might be surprised to find out that French coffee differs from the usual American or Italian coffee you’re used to. 

There are five major types of French coffee that people drink:

  1. Café
  2. Noisette
  3. Café American
  4. Café Crème
  5. Un Déca

Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of coffee.

1. Café

café

French Café is similar to your classic Italian espresso. The word translates literally to coffee, but if you order one, you’re likely to get a shot of espresso instead of a big cup of coffee. 

This is the most commonly ordered type of coffee in France. It’s popular for its rich, dark flavor.

2. Noisette

noisette

Noisette is the equivalent of an Italian macchiato. It combines one espresso shot with one to two drops of steamed cream or milk. Coffee shops typically serve a Noisette in a small espresso cup.

If you’re curious what noisette means, it’s hazelnut in English. The coffee gets its name from the hazelnut color combination of cream and espresso. 

3. Café Café American

café american

This type of coffee is closest to American coffee made using a drip coffee machine. Cafe Americain is filtered coffee. 

However, it does tend to be a bit stronger than standard American coffee. Keep this in mind if you plan to drink multiple cups!

4. Café Crème

café crème

If you love cappuccino, you would love Cafe Creme. It’s the French version of an Italian cappuccino. 

In fact, when you go to coffee shops in France, don’t order a cappuccino because you will be charged a higher tourist price. Instead, order Cafe Creme, and you will receive a cup of espresso with steamed milk on top.

5. Un Déca

un déca

Un Deca is basically a decaffeinated coffee. This is the best type of coffee for those who are sensitive to caffeine or who don’t enjoy drinking highly caffeinated coffee.

What Makes French Coffee Unique

So, now that you know what French coffee varieties there are, what is French coffee really like? Well, there are a few different factors that make it stand out. 

For one thing, French coffee is mainly made of dark-roasted beans. The lighter flavors get extracted during the roasting process, leaving hints of smoke and spice.

Because of the extensive roasting method, French coffee has a thinner body. It tends to taste sweet and burnt.

Additionally, French coffee brands tend to be dark and oily. The oilier the beans are, the better the crema will be on your cup of coffee. As a result, French coffee brands tend to be velvety smooth, and silky. 

Differentiating French and Italian Roast

If you’re a coffee lover who prefers full-bodied flavors, there’s a chance you might get confused between Italian and French roasts

After all, they’re both dark-roasted coffees with similar flavor profiles. However, the beans are actually a bit different. 

French roasted beans are roasted at much higher temperatures. Roasters actually cook the beans until they crack. When this happens, you’ll notice oil on the bean’s surface. 

Many drinkers love French roast because the bitterness is not overpowering, and the taste is not overdone. 

In contrast, the roasting process of Italian roasted coffee beans is at lower temperatures and takes much longer. This results in the coffee’s more burnt and bitter flavor. 

Professional drinkers describe the taste as smoky char with deep and robust flavor. It also has a lower caffeine content than French coffee. 

The Top 5 French Coffee Brands

If you want to see what French coffee tastes like, we have listed five of the best French coffee brands. We’ve also listed a couple of pros and cons so that you can get all the details on each of these brands! 

1. Carte Noire

Carte Noire is one of the most famous French coffee brands. Coffee lovers love its luxurious flavor because it’s made with 100% pure Arabica beans.

Carte Noire is available as instant coffee and ground coffee. You can also choose between the decaffeinated and classic blend. Ultimately, both coffee blends offer a balanced flavor of bitterness and sweetness. 

Carte Noir sources its beans from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In other words, the beans come from all over the world! However, all the roasting takes place in Laverune City in France.

Pros

  • Velvety and rich in body, so it’s super smooth to drink
  • It’s made with the finest Arabica beans, so you get a well-balanced cup of coffee

Cons

  • It’s a premium bean, so Carte Noire can be a bit expensive

2. Leroux

leroux
Image: Leroux

Another favorite French coffee brand is Leroux. It contains 100% chicory for its flavoring, so it gives you a nutty and woody taste. 

If you’re looking for a French coffee brand that pairs best with cream or milk, Leroux is perfect. The coffee is strong enough that milk and sugar won’t drown out the flavor.

Leroux is also ideal for health-conscious individuals or when you’re on a diet. It’s guaranteed kosher, natural, and GMO-free.

However, Leroux coffee is caffeine-free. As a result, it’s not the best for those who like to use coffee as a way to wake themselves up in the morning.

Pros

  • Natural and gluten-free, so it’s ideal for people with allergies
  • Kosher, non-GMO, and organic, so it’s great for those following specific diets
  • It contains chicory extract, so it has a unique flavor

Cons

  • It’s caffeine-free, so it won’t give you any kind of energy boost
  • It’s on the strong side, so it’s not great for those who like black coffee

[Check Prices]

3. Café Michel

café michel

Cafe Michel is famous for its Italian-style espresso made with Arabica and Robusta beans. Even though they’re a French brand, they do a great job getting that Italian-style flavor!

Cafe Michel offers organic and fair trade coffees. Each blend is roasted to perfection, extracting tons of flavor from the beans. 

Their coffee is famous for having fruity notes that balance the bitterness typically associated with coffee.

Aside from coffee, Cafe Michel is also well-known for its hot chocolate mixes, fair trade sugars, and organic teas. 

Pros

  • Unique fruity flavors, so the coffee has a bright and light flavor profile
  • They’ve got a lot of caffeine, so they’re great for getting you through the day
  • They contain premium Arabica and Robusta beans, so they have a balanced flavor

Cons

  • They’re super popular, so they’re almost always sold out
  • The beans are premium, so they’re on the pricey side.

[Check Prices]

4. Illy

Illy is a famous French coffee brand that produces Italian-style coffee. You can find a wide range of flavors and premium beans from Illy. 

Illy is a versatile brand that takes pride in producing coffee inspired by various countries. Regardless of the type of Illy coffee you purchase, you get to taste the unique flavors that the beans’ region is known for.

Also, Illy’s packaging ensures your beans stay fresh. Their airtight canisters keep moisture out of your beans and ensure you get great-tasting coffee for weeks on end.

Pros

  • Made with 100% Arabica beans, so you get a strong and bold flavor
  • It comes in a pressurized and air-free can, so it seals in all the aroma and oils of the coffee beans

Cons

  • It’s made with premium beans, so it can be on the expensive side

5. Legal

Legal is a famous brand not only in France but around the world. It’s one of the longest-standing coffee brands and has inspired other companies in the coffee world. 

Legal is actually the top independent coffee producer in France. They’ve got tons of different flavors for you to pick from

Even though Legal offers various flavors and blends, people love returning to this brand’s black coffee. It has the perfect velvety texture, unique aroma, and rich taste. 

But, the best part is that Legal’s black coffee still tastes exceptional even when you add sugar or cream. That’s thanks to the rich flavors that cut through the masking of the cream and sugar. 

Pros

  • The velvety texture of the coffee makes your drinking experience smooth, so it’s great for black coffee lovers
  • It has the right amount of bitterness, so the flavor is not too intense.
  • The rich taste makes it great for adding cream and sugar because they don’t drown out the coffee flavor

Cons

  • There aren’t a lot of flavors to pick from, so you’re limited in terms of what you can drink
  • The price is higher than other coffee brands, so it doesn’t work for those on a budget

Enjoy Some of the Best French Coffee Out There

People love French coffee brands because of their rich aroma and bold flavors. 

For coffee drinkers who love to experiment with different coffee flavors, any of these brands is a great pick. You can most certainly find one that matches your mood. 

So, which will it be? Will you sip on a cup of Legal or go for Illy? Let us know which your favorite is or what other questions you have in the comments!

Further Reading