When I first started coming to France in 1970, I liked the coffee you got in cafés and restaurants, and also the coffee people made and served at home. It tasted richer than the American coffee I was used to. Back then, there were basically three styles of coffee available — café filtre, which was drip coffee made by the cup using a little stainless steel apparatus; Melitta coffee, which was also drip coffee but often made by the pot, using a paper filter and a plastic cone; and finally expresso, or café express, which you got in most cafés and restaurants — un express — UN ! was what the waiter would yell at the barman.
I especially liked the expresso (now called espresso, I think). The other two kinds reminded me of American coffee, even though I though they were better. It had to do with the kind of beans used. I like Arabica beans, and that's what I buy these days. Robusta beans are less rich-tasting. Back then, you couldn't make expresso at home, so I had a Melitta filter cone and would buy the paper filters. That's still what I do today, except that I have a fancy drip pot that automates the process.
The other thing about French coffee way back when was that it wasn't easy to find decent coffee except as whole beans. You had to grind them yourself, and it seemed that everybody except people who drank café soluble — instant coffee — had an electric coffee grinder at home. I came back to France in 1972 and moved into a small apartment. Before long I had acquired a coffee grinder. I still have it, but I never use it any more. It's a bivoltage model. Back then, some towns or neighborhoods had 110V current as in the U.S., but others had 220V current. Bivoltage appliances were widely available.
Because this was a coffee grinder that I could also use in the U.S., where the current is 110V, it was handy. The problem was, back then, that you didn't really find whole-bean coffee in very many places over there. Nearly all the coffee sold in most parts of the U.S. was already ground into powder. For years my coffee grinder didn't get much use in America. But I spent many years in France back then (1970, 1972-73, 1974-76, and 1979-82) as well as many years in America.
Eventually, the coffee bean situation reversed itself. Nowadays, it's hard to find coffee beans out here in the French countryside — I'm sure it's easier in Paris and other cities, but not here. And in the U.S., at least in places where I lived from 1982 until 2002, coffee beans were widely available. So I started using my coffee grinder over there too. I actually bought a second French grinder, but I hardly ever used it because it wasn't a bivoltage machine. Actually, I just donated that one, like new, to Emmaüs (Good Will). The older one, as I said, I'll keep, and at the age of 43 years it still works just fine. (By the way, the same flip-flop thing happened that happened with coffee beans in the U.S. and France also happened with butter, but that's another story...)
So here and now we buy our coffee not as whole beans but in powder form. Twelve years ago, I picked up a brique (vacuum-packed block) of Intermarché coffee, just to try it. We were on a strict budget back then, and the Intermarché coffee was, well, cheap. It cost 75 eurocents for 250 grams (just over half a pound). And it was (and is) good. It's 100% Arabica coffee. Nowadays it costs 90 cents a block, or less than two euros a pound. I've been buying and enjoying it for twelve years. House guests often comment on how good it is.
Walt and I have a small collection of coffee pots of different kinds, but we don't use them all that much. Actually, for years I drank tea instead of coffee in the morning. I lost my taste for coffee for a decade when I quit smoking cigarettes back in the early 1980s. Tea suited me better. I've gradually come back to morning coffee over the years. We do use our French-press (plunger) pots from time to time, especially for after-lunch or after-dinner coffee. We hardly ever use the Italian metal pots, but I like having them. And I always use the same brand of coffee no matter which pot I'm making it in.
We used to enjoy making coffee with a fancy espresso machine (La Pavoni brand), but at some point 10 years ago it sprang a leak. We've never managed to repair it or have it repaired, so it sits unused in a cabinet down in the garage. One day we'll have to get a new coffee-maker (the one we use is now 12 years old) and I'm sure it will be another drip model. I don't see myself using those Nespresso capsules or the Senseo packets. I like the Intermarché 100% Arabica coffee and I hope they don't quit selling it in my lifetime.
French people still drink their morning coffee out of bowls, I think, but mugs (conveniently called mugs) are now widely available. Of course we have a supply of them that we moved over here from the States. We also have two sets of demi-tasse cups, eight in all, that we've had for more than 30 years now. One Christmas in the mid-'80s, Walt and I each surprised the other with a gift of little cups and saucers — it was a funny coincidence (les grands esprits se rencontrent..., they say).
French people used to put chicory in their coffee too, and I know that some still do. A few weeks ago I was at the check-out counter over at Intermarché and I had picked up a few briques of the store-brand coffee. The man ahead of me in line, who must have been even older than I am, looked at what I was buying and asked me if I liked that brand of coffee. I told him I did, and that I'd been buying it for many years. He asked me if I added some chicory to it when I made it. I said no. He said he'd always drunk coffee made that way and didn't want to give it up.
Coffee is like bread. What some people consider to be very good coffee or bread, others think is inbuvable or immangeable. Les goûts et les couleurs...in other words, there's no accounting for taste.