French cafés are charging extra for rude behavior

If Waiters Were Honest

Cafés in France are so sick of people forgetting their manners, they've started adding up-charges to their menus for rude behavior. Order your café au lait with a simple bonjour and s'il vous plaît, and it could save you as much as 80 percent at coffee shops that have formally enshrined this pricing system that, in terms of karma, sounds delightful (though maybe legally problematic?).

While very discreetly penalizing rude customers is a timeworn practice in the industry, the Times of London says at least two gutsier spots are punitively trying to reintroduce civility into French café culture out in the open. L'Hamburgé in Grenoble, France, has coffee prices that range from €1.50 (for barbarians) down to €1 (for nice, polite customers). La Petite Syrah in Nice, meanwhile, prices its coffee by what might be called tall, grande, and venti levels of rude: It's €7 if the customer declares, "Coffee." But that same cup drops to €4.25 if the person says, "A coffee, please," and then to a quite reasonable €1.40 if ordered with a "Hello, a coffee, please."

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French cafés are charging extra for rude behavior

What's an espresso?

Like a concentrated coffee shot (and the drink of choice throughout Europe), an espresso is "seven grams of specifically roasted coffee, extracted by an espresso machine for approximately 24 seconds," says Tal Inbar, owner of NYC's Macchiato Espresso Bar. Want to drink it the insider way? Don't order it to go. Italians drink their espresso while standing at the café.

What's a macchiato?

A macchiato is "the same as espresso but 'stained' with a little bit of foam—the word macchiato comes from the Italian word that means to stain," says Inbar.

What's a cortado?

"Cortado means cut (it comes from the Spanish word cortar). It's an espresso 'cut' with approximately the same amount of steamed milk." If you find an espresso or macchiato a little too strong, you'll love this option.

What's a cappuccino?

Three equal parts: a third espresso, a third milk, a third froth. "If frothed correctly (and if the texture is correct), this is not supposed to be so distinct and broken apart but rather a smooth, silky texture blending each of the elements," Inbar says.

What's a dry cappuccino?

Don't like too much milk in your coffee? Try ordering your cappuccino 'dry.' "This is usually very little warm milk and more foam or froth," says Inbar.

What's a red eye?

If a regular coffee is no longer perking you up the same way, try a red eye for an extra jolt: "It's drip coffee with a shot of espresso."

What's a caffe latte?

For those who like more watered-down, less-intense coffee drinks, a latte is "the opposite of a cappuccino," says Inbar. "It consists of espresso with a lot of warm milk and a little bit of froth."


While pain-in-the-ass customers deserve what they have coming, the Times predictably notes the price tiers are "generating intense debate." Fair's only fair: French servers shouldn't forget that they've carefully crafted a reputation as the scourge of restaurant guests, so maybe this pricing structure can cut both ways.

[Times UK]

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