On my travel in paris, I ordered a cappuccino at a local cafe. What I got, was a large cup of coffee with a tennis-ball-sized whipped cream on top, decorated with chocolate syrup. Being like most Finnish, I did drink the cup without complaining.

However, I feel I got served a cheap substitute for a cappuccino, I am not even sure if it was espresso but rather just filtered coffee.

Is it because we were tourists, or the place being cheap, or was it just their local variation of cappuccino? I've always thought that cappuccino is supposed to have steamed milk foam on top, not cream from a can.

How should I order my next cappuccino without insulting the waiter AND without whipped cream?

  • I guess you could just monitor the process when they are creating it and when they are about to add the whipped cream, just say, "no whipped cream thank you". – Viktor Mellgren Feb 2 '16 at 15:01
  • From your title, I was wondering whether you wanted or got a cappuccino without wipped cream. I hope my edit improved the title! (This question seems specific to France to me, I never got a cappuccino with whipped cream anywhere else...) – anderas Feb 9 '16 at 16:10
  • 1
    I approved the edit, although the situation may apply to ANY country and ANY cafe catering quick'n'cheap cups for tourists. :( – diynevala Feb 9 '16 at 18:43
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You probably just hit upon a place that simply didn't know what a cappuccino was, or lacked the facilities to prepare one.

French coffee culture is a little different from Italian, but usually a cappuccino is much like what you'd expect.

I found this exhaustive guide to French coffee culture, and it notes:

Capuccino – A French cappuccino is thirty per cent espresso coffee, fifty per cent milk, twenty per cent froth and no whipped cream. If the cafe you are in adds whipped cream then you must be in a cafe catering to tourists.

So it sounds like you just had bad luck!

I have lived in the west of Belgium for a few years. I can say, they are strongly affected by the French culture. However, I am not thoroughly aware of daily French Cappuccino routines, I would like to add my observations from Belgium.

Belgians usually have both options. You can either order your Cappuccino with steamed milk or with whipped cream. If you didn't indicate which one you prefer, it is very probably the whipped cream. If the waiter/waitress is a nice person she/he asks you which one is your preference. So, these were my humble experiences I experienced mostly in the west side of Belgium around 2008-2010.

(I assume the sweet whipped cream idea originates from the topping of the waffles they are used to.)

  • 1
    I'm travelling in Belgium right now and I can confirm this is the case. Spot on. – Ryan Chatterton Dec 2 '16 at 14:09
  • After some years, I've been in Brussels again. This time, I decided to follow this behavior. Sometimes not, but mostly this situation is remarked on the menu. Either namely as Italian / Viennese or directly as milk foam / milk cream. Here, you can see a menu list from the Brussels city center. Here, you can see the prepared "cappuccino met slagroom (NL)" or "cappuccino chantilly (FR)". Quite Belgian... – MT San Feb 4 at 0:53

Possible reasons:

  1. The machine at the cafe did not have a cappuccino mode (unlikely, but possible);
  2. The machine HAS a cappuccino mode, but the bartender did not know how to use the cappuccino machine;
  3. The cafe actually had both kinds of cappuccino on the menu: one with whipped cream and one with steamed milk;
  4. The cafe is cutting corners by using cheaper alternatives.

I've tried looking through the French wikipedia, and if you want to be sure that it's with milk foam and not with whipped cream, you could try asking for a "café mousse" (which is another term according to wikipedia) or asking "votre cappuccino, c'est avec du lait moussé"?

On a side note: an espresso with whipped cream is usually called a "café Viennois" in France, and whipped cream is usually called "chantilly" (roughly pronounced shauntiyi).

  • 2
    It is sad to see such laziness - they should not be permitted to serve coffee for money. – diynevala Feb 3 '16 at 15:49

Currently traveling in the south of France. When I ordered a cappuccino in Sète in an outdoor cafe I got a coffee with whipped cream, not at all what I expected. Later in another village cafe I noticed a coffee with whipped cream being served. I didn’t hear what they ordered but Cappuccino was on the menu. My friend ended up ordering a Cafe au Lait which of course is not a Cappuccino but was better than coffee with whipped cream in this situation.

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