Essential Guide to Ordering Coffee in English. From Espresso to Americano: Terms You Need to Know

Anna Naumovychreviewed byKateryna Protsenko / more about Editorial Process15 min
Created: Feb 8, 2024Last updated: Feb 8, 2024
Ordering Coffee in English

Ordering coffee can be an intimidating experience, especially if you’re not a native English speaker. With countless types of coffee drinks and ways to customize them, it’s easy to get lost in translation. Whether you're a newcomer to the world of coffee or looking to expand your beverage horizons, this article will walk you through the basics of ordering coffee in English, from coffee terminology to tips for communicating with baristas. After reading, you’ll feel confident and ready to order your perfect cup of coffee!

Coffee Types

When it comes to coffee orders, understanding the different types is crucial. Let’s start with a quick overview of popular coffee types and brewing methods:

  • Espresso: Concentrated coffee made by forcing steam through finely ground coffee beans. Served as a shot, it is a popular choice for those seeking a quick caffeine fix.

Barista: Good morning! What can I get for you today?

Visitor: Hi there! I'll have an espresso, please.

Barista: Sure thing. Would you like a single shot or a double?

Visitor: Just a single shot, please.

Barista: Is that for here or to go?

Visitor: To go, please.

  • Americano: Espresso with added hot water to dilute it. Milder in flavor.

Barista: Hello! What can I get started for you?

Visitor: Hi! I'll have an Americano, please.

Barista: Great choice. Would you like it with one shot of espresso or two?

Visitor: One shot is perfect, thank you.

  • Cappuccino: Espresso topped with foamed milk and steamed milk.

Barista: Good afternoon! What can I prepare for you?

Visitor: Hi! I'm in the mood for a cappuccino.

Barista: Excellent choice. Would you like it with a regular or large amount of foam?

Visitor: A regular amount, please.

  • Latte: Espresso with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam. More milk than a cappuccino.

Barista: Hi there! What can I make for you today?

Visitor: Hello! I'll have a latte, please.

Barista: Sure thing. Would you like it with any flavor syrup or just plain?

Visitor: Just plain, thank you.

  • Macchiato: Espresso with just a dollop of foamed milk on top.

Barista: Good morning! What can I brew for you?

Visitor: Hi! I'd like a macchiato, please.

Barista: Sure thing. Would you like it with a single or double shot of espresso?

Visitor: Just a single shot, please.

  • Doppio: A double shot of espresso, ideal for those in need of extra caffeine.
  • Red Eye: Regular brewed coffee with a shot of espresso, providing a bold caffeine kick.
  • Galão: A Portuguese beverage consisting of espresso and foamed milk in a tall glass.
  • Lungo: A longer extraction of espresso, resulting in a larger volume of coffee with a milder flavor.
  • Mocha: Espresso mixed with chocolate syrup and topped with steamed milk and foam, offering a decadent treat.
  • Ristretto: A shorter and more concentrated shot of espresso, highlighting the coffee's intensity.
  • Flat White: Espresso combined with velvety microfoam, creating a smooth and balanced flavor profile.
  • Affogato: A dessert-like treat featuring a scoop of vanilla ice cream "drowned" in a shot of hot espresso.
  • Café au Lait: Brewed coffee combined with steamed milk, delivering a comforting and creamy beverage.
  • Irish Coffee: Hot coffee spiked with Irish whiskey, sweetened with sugar, and topped with whipped cream, perfect for a spirited indulgence.
  • Frappuccino: A blended coffee beverage topped with whipped cream, offering a refreshing and indulgent treat.
  • Iced Coffee: Chilled brewed coffee served over ice cubes, ideal for warm weather refreshment.
  • Iced Espresso: Chilled espresso served over ice, providing a bold and refreshing coffee experience.
  • Cold Brew: Coffee brewed with cold water over an extended period, resulting in a smooth and less acidic flavor profile.
  • Nitro: Cold brew infused with nitrogen, creating a creamy texture and unique cascading effect.
  • Mazagran: A historical cold coffee beverage originating from Algeria, typically made with cold coffee, lemon juice, and sugar.

Feeling overwhelmed by the bustling atmosphere, the array of options, or simply unsure of what to say? Here are some handy phrases to help you navigate your coffee order with ease:

Barista: Good morning! What can I get for you today?

Visitor: Hi there! I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the choices. Can you recommend something not too strong?

Barista: Of course! How about trying our latte? It's creamy and smooth, perfect for a mild flavor. Would you like to give it a try?

Visitor: Hello! I'm having trouble deciding. What's your most popular drink?

Barista: No problem! Our cappuccino is a crowd favorite. It's a classic choice with just the right balance of espresso and frothy milk. Would you like to go with that?

Visitor: Hi! I'm feeling a bit indecisive today. Can you suggest something simple?

Barista: Absolutely! Our Americano is a straightforward option. It's espresso with added hot water, creating a milder flavor. Would you like to go with that?

Special Considerations When Choosing Your Coffee 

With so many options, how do you decide what to order? Here are some tips:

  • If you're lactose intolerant, on a diet, or simply prefer your coffee without milk, go for black coffee drinks like espresso, Americano, or drip coffee. 
  • Explore milk alternatives like almond, soy, or oat milk for a dairy-free option.
  • If you like milk but want a milder coffee taste, order a latte.
  • For a balanced coffee and milk flavor, cappuccinos are a great choice.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, choose a flavored latte or ask for syrups.
  • On hot days, refreshing options like iced coffee or cold brew help you cool down.
  • Need an extra caffeine kick? Opt for an extra shot of espresso.
  • If you're sensitive to caffeine, decaf coffee provides a milder alternative.

Roast Selection

When choosing a roast type for your coffee, it's essential to consider your flavor preferences and desired intensity. 

  • Light roasts, often labeled as “Light City” or “Half City” roasts, offer a mild flavor profile that's perfect for those who prefer a gentler taste experience. 
  • Medium roasts, known as “American” or “Breakfast” roasts, boast a deeper color and nutty undertones, striking a balance between flavor and intensity. 
  • Dark roasts, labeled as “European,” “Espresso,” “Italian,” or “French” roasts, deliver a rich and bold flavor profile, sometimes with a hint of bitterness. 

Whether you opt for a single origin coffee for a unique taste or a blend for balanced flavors, your barista will be happy to guide you through the roast options available, ensuring your coffee experience matches your preferences perfectly.

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Brewing Methods

Understanding brewing methods can also enhance your coffee ordering experience. 

  • Drip coffee, commonly found in coffee shops, involves hot water dripping through ground coffee beans. It results in a classic and widely available cup of coffee.

Barista: Good morning! What can I get for you today?

Visitor: Hi! I'll have a drip coffee, please.

Barista: Certainly! Would you like it with room for cream and sugar, or do you prefer it black?

Visitor: I'll take it black, thank you.

  • Pour-over coffee offers a more hands-on approach, where hot water is poured over coffee grounds manually. 

Barista: Welcome! What can I prepare for you today?

Visitor: Hi! I'll have a pour-over coffee, please.

Barista: Excellent choice. Would you like it with our house blend or a single-origin coffee?

Visitor: I'll go with the house blend, please.

  • French press brewing involves steeping coffee grounds in hot water before pressing them down with a plunger to extract flavor. This results in a rich and full-bodied cup of coffee.

Barista: Hello there! What can I get started for you?

Visitor: Hi! I'd like a French press coffee, please.

Barista: Sure thing. Would you like it with our dark roast or medium roast?

Visitor: I'll go with the medium roast, please.

Customizing Your Drink

One of the best parts about ordering coffee is customizing your drink to your preferences. From milk alternatives to syrups and extra shots of espresso, the possibilities are endless. Whether you're looking to add a touch of sweetness with caramel syrup or boost your caffeine intake with an additional shot, don't be shy to ask your barista to customize your drink. That’s what they’re there for!

  • Milk alternatives: non-dairy milks like soy, almond, oat, or coconut.

Barista: Hello! What can I get started for you today?

Visitor: Hi there! Can I have a latte with almond milk, please?

Barista: Of course! Would you like any flavor syrup with that, or just the almond milk?

  • Flavored syrups: vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, banana, amaretto, etc.

Barista: Good afternoon! What can I prepare for you?

Visitor: Hi! I'll have a cappuccino with caramel syrup, please.

Barista: Sure thing! Would you like whipped cream on top as well?

  • Extra espresso shots for a caffeine boost.

Barista: Welcome! What can I brew for you today?

Visitor: Hi! I'll take a double espresso, please.

Barista: Absolutely! Would you like any milk or sugar with that, or just the double shot?

  • Whipped cream on top for an extra treat.

Barista: Hi there! What can I get for you today?

Visitor: Hello! Can I have a mocha with whipped cream on top, please?

Barista: Certainly! Would you like any chocolate drizzle on top of the whipped cream?

  • Substitute hot milk for cold milk for an iced coffee drink.

Barista: Good morning! What can I prepare for you?

Visitor: Hi! I'll have an iced latte, but can you use cold almond milk instead of hot?

Barista: Of course! Would you like any flavor syrup in your iced latte as well?

Coffee Ordering Etiquette

When ordering coffee, polite communication with baristas is key. Start by greeting them with a friendly "hello" or "good morning" before stating your order clearly and politely. 

The barista’s role is to help you get the perfect coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need clarification on sizes, options, or recommendations for new drinks to try.

Speak clearly and confidently. Baristas serve hundreds of customers daily.

Don’t rush. Give the barista time to enter your order.

Repeat your order back to confirm accuracy.

Be polite and thank the barista when you receive your drink.

Tipping is common in many coffee shops, so consider leaving a gratuity as a token of appreciation for excellent service.

Overcoming Language Barriers

If English isn’t your first language, don’t let that stop you from ordering coffee confidently. Here are some tips:

  • Practice saying your order out loud at home.
  • Have a printed copy of your order in English you can show the barista.
  • Stick to basic vocabulary and skip complicated modifiers.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Smile through any language mix-ups and stay positive.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the barista to speak slower or repeat the order.

With a little preparation and a smile, you can order coffee smoothly in English. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Before you know it, you’ll be ordering coffee in English like a pro!

Drink Coffee with Promova

Ordering coffee in English becomes much easier with help from Promova! It offers an English learning app you can study anytime on iOS or Android, even in a coffee shop! 

If you travel to another country on business and want to keep enjoying coffee abroad, Promova has Business English courses to help you navigate professional interactions with ease. 

If that country speaks another language like GermanItalianSpanishFrench, Portuguese, Ukrainian, KoreanChinese, or Arabic, learn it with the Promova app too!

Promova also provides live group lessons where you can study with a tutor and engage in exciting conversational practice with fellow learners.

For those seeking individual attention, Promova provides personalized one-on-one lessons with English tutors.

No matter which option you choose, take a level test first to receive a tailored learning plan that fits your skills, needs, and goals.

Regardless of whether you prefer coffee, tea, or mineral water, Promova has you covered. With fun, effective language learning resources, you'll gain the English skills to comfortably order at cafes worldwide. Before long, you'll chat confidently with baristas and savor coffee in English like a native speaker.

Coffee Break

Crafting Your Instagram Post about Coffee Break

Instagram is a fantastic platform for sharing your love of coffee and the coffee shop experience. Whether you're aiming for a creative, humorous, philosophical, or serious tone, there are plenty of ways to capture the essence of your coffee break in a captivating post.

  • Creative Coffee Post Idea:

Embracing the artistry of coffee one sip at a time ☕️✨ #CoffeeLover #ArtOfCoffee

  • Humorous Coffee Post Idea:

Coffee: the most important meal of the day... just kidding, but it sure feels like it! 😂☕️ #CoffeeHumor #ButFirstCoffee

  • Philosophical Coffee Post Idea:

In the quiet moments between sips, the world slows down and clarity emerges. Here's to finding moments of peace in the daily grind. #CoffeeThoughts #ReflectAndSip

  • Funny Coffee Post Idea:

When life gives you lemons, trade them for coffee! Who's with me? 🍋➡️☕️ #CoffeeFixesEverything #JustAddCoffee

  • Serious Coffee Post Idea:

Behind every cup of coffee is a story waiting to be savored. Today, I raise my mug to the moments that fuel our journey. #CoffeeJourney #SavorTheMoment

  • Cozy Vibes Coffee Post Idea: 

Wrapped in a warm blanket with a steaming cup of coffee – this is my kind of winter wonderland. ❄️☕️ #CozyCoffee #WinterWarmth

  • Coffee Date Post Idea: 

Conversations over coffee are the best kind of therapy. Tag your favorite coffee date! 👫☕️ #CoffeeConversations #FriendshipGoals

  • Barista Appreciation Post Idea: 

Behind every perfectly brewed cup of coffee is a talented barista. Cheers to those who make our coffee dreams come true! 👏☕️ #BaristaLove #CoffeeArtistry

  • Coffee and Books Post Idea: 

A good book and a strong cup of coffee – the perfect recipe for a relaxing afternoon. 📚☕️ #CoffeeAndBooks #ReadingTime

  • Morning Rituals Post Idea: 

Mornings are for coffee and contemplation. How do you start your day? ☀️☕️ #MorningRituals #CoffeeRoutine

  • Coffee and Nature Post Idea: 

Finding serenity in the simple pleasure of coffee amidst nature's beauty. 🌿☕️ #CoffeeInNature #OutdoorCoffee

  • Travel and Coffee Post Idea: 

Exploring new destinations one coffee shop at a time. Where will your next coffee adventure take you? 🌎☕️ #CoffeeTravel #Wanderlust

  • Gratitude Post Idea: 

Grateful for the simple joys in life – like the first sip of coffee in the morning. What are you grateful for today? 🙏☕️ #Gratitude #SimpleJoys

  • DIY Coffee Recipe Post Idea: 

Get creative in the kitchen and whip up your own specialty coffee creation. Share your recipes! 🧁☕️ #DIYCoffee #CoffeeCreations

Or keep it simple with a photo holding your drink with “Coffee break” or “Hitting my happy place”. Check-in to share your location. For extra fun, add quirky hashtags like #caffeinequeen, #coffeeconnoisseur, or #mybaristaknowsmewell.

Other Ways to Say Coffee

Coffee enthusiasts often use creative and playful expressions to refer to their favorite beverage. Here are some alternative ways to say "coffee" along with examples:

  • Eather’s Energizer: "I can't start my day without a cup of Eather’s Energizer to get me going."
  • Liquid Gold: "There's nothing quite like the aroma of Liquid Gold brewing in the morning."
  • Nature’s Nectar: "A steaming cup of Nature’s Nectar is like a hug in a mug on a chilly day."
  • Brewed Bliss: "There's nothing like a cup of Brewed Bliss to unwind after a long day."
  • Morning Fuel: "I rely on my Morning Fuel to get through early meetings."
  • Caffeine Fix: "A Caffeine Fix is just what I need to stay alert during late-night study sessions."
  • Cup of Joe: "Can't beat a classic Cup of Joe to start the day off right."
  • Black Gold: "A piping hot mug of Black Gold is my go-to on chilly mornings."
  • Liquid Energy: "I swear by Liquid Energy to power through my workouts."
  • Espresso Elixir: "An Espresso Elixir is all I need to conquer my to-do list."
  • Cuppa: "Let's catch up over a Cuppa this afternoon."
  • Bean Juice: "Hand me a mug of Bean Juice, and I'm good to go."
  • Morning Mud: "Pass me a cup of Morning Mud, and I'll be ready to tackle anything."
  • Brown Elixir: "Nothing perks me up like a steaming cup of Brown Elixir."
  • Super Power In A Mug: "Feeling unstoppable after a sip of Super Power In A Mug."

Small Talk During a Coffee Drink

When sharing a coffee drink with a friend, colleague, or partner, the setting provides an opportunity for enjoyable conversation about coffee, the coffee shop experience, or other related topics. Here are some conversation starters and dialogue examples to enhance your coffee time together:

  • Have you tried any new coffee shops lately? I'm always on the lookout for great places to grab a cup.
  • What's your go-to coffee order when you visit a new cafe?
  • Do you prefer your coffee with milk or black? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
  • Have you ever tried making your own coffee at home? I've been experimenting with different brewing methods.
  • I heard about this unique coffee blend. Would you be interested in trying it together sometime?
  • Do you have any favorite coffee rituals or routines? I find that my morning coffee sets the tone for the day.
  • Have you ever attended any coffee tasting events or workshops? I've been thinking about trying one out to expand my palate.
  • What's the most memorable coffee experience you've had while traveling? I love discovering local cafes and their unique brews.
  • Do you have any favorite coffee-related books or documentaries? I'm always looking for recommendations to deepen my understanding of coffee culture.

Friend: "Hey, it's been a while since we caught up. How about we grab a coffee?"

You: “Sounds great! I know this cozy cafe nearby. They have the best cappuccinos. Let's go there!”

Colleague: "Do you want to take a coffee break and discuss the upcoming project?"

You: “Sure! There's a nice coffee shop down the street. We can grab a table and brainstorm over lattes.”

Partner: "I'm craving a latte. Want to go to our favorite coffee spot?"

You: "Absolutely! I love their lattes. Let's make it a coffee date and catch up on our week."

Conclusion

From espresso to specialty latte art, there is so much to discover in the world of coffee drinks. We hope this Promova guide gave you the knowledge and confidence to order coffee in English effortlessly. Remember to start with the basics, don’t be shy to customize your drink order, and stay polite with baristas. The coffee shop is a great place to practice your English skills. So what are you waiting for? Go treat yourself to a delicious cup of coffee in English!

FAQ

What are the most popular coffee drinks I should know?

The top coffee drinks to know are espresso, Americano, cappuccino, latte, and macchiato. Study the key differences between these basic drink types.

Should I tip when ordering coffee?

Tipping customs vary by region, but it's generally appreciated to leave a small tip for good service, especially in sit-down cafés.

How do you ask a girl for coffee?

Asking a girl for coffee can be a great way to get to know her better in a casual and relaxed setting. To ask her out, consider using a straightforward approach while being respectful of her feelings and personal boundaries. You could say something like, “I've really enjoyed our conversations lately, and I was wondering if you'd like to grab a coffee with me sometime?” This approach is friendly, clear, and gives her the opportunity to accept or decline without feeling pressured. To keep it casual, say, “We should get coffee soon”. To be bolder, say “Let's get coffee tomorrow / on Sunday”. Remember to be genuine, confident, and considerate of her response, whether it's a yes or a no.

Should I use "a" or "some" before "coffee" in the sentence "I want coffee"?

In the sentence "I want coffee," it is grammatically correct to use "some" instead of "a" before "coffee." This is because "coffee" is an uncountable noun, referring to a substance rather than a specific unit or quantity. "Some" is used to indicate an unspecified amount or quantity of the substance.

Should I use "want" or "would like" in the sentence "I want coffee"?

Regarding the verb choice, both "want" and "would like" are grammatically correct in this context, but they convey slightly different tones. "Want" is more direct and casual, while "would like" is slightly more polite and formal. Therefore, depending on the context and level of formality, you may choose either "I want some coffee" or "I would like some coffee" to express your desire for coffee.

How do I order multiple cups of coffee in English?

When ordering multiple cups of coffee in English, you can simply specify the number of cups you'd like along with any additional details for each cup if necessary. For example, you can say, "I'd like three coffees, please. One with milk, one black, and one with sugar." Alternatively, if you're ordering for a group, you can say, "Can I get four coffees to go, please? Two with cream and sugar, one black, and one decaf." Being clear and specific about the quantity and any customization ensures your order is accurately fulfilled.

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