More than 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day. People drink coffee in the morning, after lunch, in the middle of the afternoon, and even at night in order to pull an all-nighter before taking an, for instance. The thing is: if you like coffee, you definitely need to know how to order coffee in English. In this blog post we will talk more about the vocabulary, the phrases, and everything you need to know in order to feel at ease when going into a coffee shop for your cup of joe (another word for coffee).
The coffee culture around the world
Even though coffee is popular all around the world, people don’t always consume it the same way. The coffee culture changes according to the country you are in. In Brazil, where I live, it is not common to grab a cup of coffee at the coffee shop. People usually make coffee at home or go to a bakery in order to buy a cup of coffee. In Italy, it is not usual to get a coffee to go, for instance. People usually have their coffee standing at the coffee bar. In the United States, on the other hand, people are more used to grabbing their morning coffee at shops like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. That being said, I must say that we will focus more on how to order coffee in America in this article. You will finally learn how to order coffee at Starbucks!
Menu items and sizes
When looking at a Starbucks’ menu, you will be presented with several options of drinks you can order. Let’s have a look at some of the most common hot drinks.
A common drink is the americano, which is an espresso to which your barista will add hot water. You can also order a latte, which is an espresso with hot milk. A cappuccino is another common drink people order. A cappuccino is simply an espresso with hot milk and foam. If you are not a big fan of caffeine, you can also order a decaf coffee. Moving on, you can also order a macchiato (espresso with little hot milk), a doppio (two shots of espresso), and a mocha (coffee with bittersweet mocha sauce and steamed milk).
If you are an espresso fan, you can also order a brewed coffee, which is when we pour hot water over ground coffee. If you like brewed coffee with milk, you can simply ask for a cafe au lait. If you feel like drinking tea, another common hot drink is a chai, which is made of tea, milk, spices and sugar.
If you are anything like me, you prefer cold drinks. In that case, you may order an iced coffee or an iced latte, which is the hot drink poured over a lot of ice. You can also order a frappuccino, which is made by blending coffee, milk and ice and topping it up with whipped cream and the sauce of your choice.
A common doubt is regarding the sizes. You can simply ask for a small, a medium, or a large drink. However, at Starbucks, it is more common to refer to a small drink as a tall drink, a medium would be a grande, and a large drink is referred to as a venti.
- Can I get a grande iced latte?
- I would like a tall caramel frappuccino, please.
Adding something else: milk and flavors
If you order a drink with milk, you can choose from different milk options. You can ask for whole milk (full fat milk), 2% milk (reduced fat), nonfat milk (also called skinny or skim), almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk. You can also ask for half and half (a mixture of milk and cream) or heavy cream.
You can also customize your drink by adding pumps of different flavors of syrup, such as caramel, vanilla, and hazelnut.
- Can I get a grande latte with 2 pumps of vanilla, please?
- Can I get a venti mocha with 2% milk?
- I would like a soy iced latte, please.
Common phrases you may hear in the coffee shop
When you are ordering your coffee you may hear some phrases. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
First, you should know that we call ‘cashier’ the person who will ring you up (ring up is a phrasal verb that means to use a cash register to calculate the cost of something). The cashier may say phrases like:
Next in line.
I can help whoever’s next.
All these sentences mean that you can approach the register and place your order if you are the next in line. If you are next in line, but you are not sure about what to order, you can look at the person behind you and say “You can go ahead. I’m still deciding” or “You go ahead. I’m not ready to order yet”.
Then, at the register, the cashier may ask you:
What can I do for you?
What are you having?
What can I get you?
He/she wants to know what your order will be. You can say something like:
Can I get a latte to go?
Can I get an iced vanilla latte for here, please?
‘To go’ means you will drink your coffee somewhere else. If you ask for 3 coffees to go, for instance, they will place them in a cup holder or drink carrier. ‘For here’ means that you will have your coffee at the coffee shop.
After you decide what your order will be, the barista may ask you for your name. You can tell them your first name. That will be used by the barista, which is the person making your coffee, to announce that your coffee is ready.
Tipping at a coffee shop
Unlike restaurants, where you can just leave the tip on the table, when you buy coffee at a coffee shop it is very likely that there will be a tip jar on the counter by the register. You should consider the amount of your order and the quality of the service when deciding how much you should tip – something around 15 to 20 percent is usually a good amount.
Take a look at this conversation in coffee shop:
Cashier: Hi. What can I get you today?
Client: Hi. Can I get a large iced vanilla latte, please?
Cashier: Sure. Can I get your name?
Cashier: Would you mind spelling it?
Client: Sure. B-R-U-N-A.
Cashier: Ok. That will be $4.50, please.
Client: Here you go.
Cashier: Good morning. What are you having today?
Client: Morning. I’d like a grande caramel frappuccino.
Client: Can I have extra ice?
Cashier: Sure. Anything else for you today?
Client: No, that’s it.
Cashier: That will be $6.70, please.
We hope you learned a thing or two with this coffee vocabulary in English. Let us know in the comment section if you like drinking coffee, okay? Now you know quite a lot about how to order coffee in English and how to order coffee like a pro!