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Why is French coffee different from American?

 
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bulkarn



Joined: 10 May 2006
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 5:51 pm    Post subject: Why is French coffee different from American? Reply with quote

I just returned from 3 weeks in France and found that I could drink regular coffee any time of day and not get the jitters. I stopped drinking regular coffee here decades ago because I just couldn't stand the side effects. Not so in France. Is it because the cup is so small you just don't get a big hit of caffine or is their coffee different? Love to know the answer to this riddle. Thanks.

Oh, and can I buy French coffee--not french roast--in the States?
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helen-

American coffee roasters use the highest quality arabica beans from South America to stand up to the long roasting time required for a dark "French roast". I'm guessing the French import their coffee from Africa as they had, at one time, extensive colonies in Africa. Perhaps that means different species of coffee trees and different properties in the beans.

I was young when I lived in France and the differences I noticed were other than the jiggly caffein effect. But that may be because caffein has never agitated me or kept me awake. What I remember is adding chickory to the beans. If that is widely practiced it could bring down the proportion of caffein in the brew. And we used enormous "cups" that resembled cereal bowls without handles and were not unlike the bowls that illustrate Clotilde's lovely Seven Breakfasts stories.

...but then we lived in the countryside and only went into Paris on business so we may well have learned "bumpkin" French culture. No matter — it was lovely and I treasure the memories.
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KathyD



Joined: 02 Nov 2005
Posts: 41
Location: Couzon, France 03160

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait a minute ! Wait a minute !! "Bumpkin" French culture ???!!! I take exception to that. I'm an American living in the middle of France, and admittedly it is less sophisticated than Paris, but does sophistication equal "real culture" ?? To me, this is the REAL FRANCE. What is American culture? Is it New York ??? Excuse me, but no !! That would a very limited look way to look at any culture.

So there !!!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kathy- I couldn't agree more! I was trying to differentiate my limited experience from the ones Helen may have had.

We were young and poor and rarely ventured outside the villages that surrounded the farm we lived on. A most valuable experience for me but not one from which I can speak about all French coffee.

I'm full of opinions and share them and what information I have but I never take myself too seriously and always want others to know that I invite them to do the same.

Meanwhile, what great fortune to live in the "real" France that's as treasured by Parisians as by those of us who only have ancient memories of it. Wink
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gisele



Joined: 28 Mar 2006
Posts: 154
Location: North of Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
just returned from 3 weeks in France and found that I could drink regular coffee any time of day and not get the jitters. I stopped drinking regular coffee here decades ago because I just couldn't stand the side effects.


Do you think one of the differences could be that you haven't drunk American coffee in a long time? I'm sure there have been changes in the way coffee is made in the last couple of decades.

I find that I can drink better quality, generally more expensive, coffee with no ill side effects. Whereas, the awful coffee we have at work can give me the jitters if I drink more than 2 cups.

Interestingly enough, my mother can no longer have any coffee at all, due to the coffee she drunk when in France about 20 years ago. Apparently my grandmere used to make the coffee so thick and strong your teaspoon would stand upright in the cup! Mum used to be jittering all the time! Even the slightest hint of coffee in baking gives her the shakes.
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elizabeth



Joined: 07 Jul 2006
Posts: 7
Location: Cambridge, MA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:27 pm    Post subject: Jitters Reply with quote

I had a similar experience coming home from Sicily last summer. I drank two cups of coffee daily before going, had americanos while i was in italy, and when i came home coffee made me nauseous and jittery. I think the difference is the roasts used. According to a friend of mine who is a coffee roaster, the longer a bean is roasted, the darker it gets, the bolder the flavor, and believe it or not, the less caffein it has.
I think people think of espresso as stronger because of the flavor but it has far less caffein than a blonder roast would, even though american brewing makes it far more watery. Since I've been stateside i use my bialetti to make a double shot of espresso each morning, which i treat like a machiatto with a little cream, and it doesn't bother my nerves or my stomach at all. I am not sure if brewing it as an espresso makes as much of a difference as the roast you chose, but some combination seems to have helped for me!
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been told by a friend who is a coffee FIENDTwisted Evil that the more water used in the brewing, the more caffeine (and bitterness) is released. Kind of counter intuitive, but empirically, it seems correct!
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cris



Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 41
Location: usa /md french background

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 6:47 pm    Post subject: french-vs-american coffee Reply with quote

french vs american coffee is a bit of a simplification what are you comparing the methods of brewings,the roasting of the beans,the grinding.to many variable to pass on a judgement but in my opinion a coffee on either side of the ocean taste the same as long as you use the the same way of brewing (truth is drip coffee because water stay more in contact with the beans will carry more caffeine than expresso) the same kind of beans and grade of roasting with the same grinding should taste the same. Wink
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Alisa



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 97
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"French Coffee", otherwise known as espresso, actually contains less caffeine than drip, Press, or percolated (yuck) coffee. For the reason someone before me mentioned: The longer the water passes through the same grounds/grinds, the more caffeine is emitted. So although a short, strong espresso tastes like it will keep you up all night, it's caffeine effects are fairly small, compared to "american coffee".
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elizabeth



Joined: 07 Jul 2006
Posts: 7
Location: Cambridge, MA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alisa wrote:
"French Coffee", otherwise known as espresso, actually contains less caffeine than drip, Press, or percolated (yuck) coffee. For the reason someone before me mentioned: The longer the water passes through the same grounds/grinds, the more caffeine is emitted. So although a short, strong espresso tastes like it will keep you up all night, it's caffeine effects are fairly small, compared to "american coffee".

Aha! that's right, i had heard that before... so it is the combination of the roast and the brewing method. So, if you are an american coffee lover, the best bet would be to make a caffe americano, by brewing a single or double shot of espresso and adding water to lengthen out the shot. Thereby, using the darkest roast of bean (and therefore lowest in caffeine) and also the brewing method that minimizes brewing time, and of course, diluting it to get the flavour without prolonging the exposure of water to bean gives you a perfect tummy soothing cup!
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bulkarn



Joined: 10 May 2006
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all so much for your replies. i will experiment with the amount of water I use. I use a cuisinart grind and brew coffee maker or buy starbuck or peets exclusively. Maybe I just loved the Frence coffee because everything about France is so agreeable to me!!
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