How to Order Coffee in English Like It’s No Big Deal

Oct 3, 2018 | English Conversation

This lesson on How to Order Coffee in English has been updated and a video has been added.
It was originally posted in January 2016.

This lesson may seem like something so simple and silly but I’ll be honest with you—it’s close to my heart.

Eight years ago I had a new one-on-one English student. We met in a local coffee shop for our first class and I immediately noticed that her English level was quite high. I was impressed.

But she couldn’t order a coffee. She was completely stuck and too nervous. Her English level was high but she couldn’t speak.

After a couple of classes, we met at the coffee shop again. This time, she ordered a coffee for the first time.

She cried. I did too.

That’s right. It’s the small things.

Then a few months ago, I had a Fluency School student tell me how excited she was because, after her classes with me, she could finally order a coffee after living in the United States for more than a year. It made my heart explode. With happiness.

It’s the small things that make us so angry, embarrassed, and frustrated.

But it’s also the small things that makes us feel like we can do anything we want.

I believe you can have the freedom to say what you want in English. And I want you to feel the joy that happens when you can do something you really want (something really simple) in English. Without stress. Without fear.

So here’s how to order coffee in English like a native.

Learn to order coffee in English like it’s no big deal.

Lesson by Annemarie

Tips on How to Order Coffee in English Easily

In the video lesson, I shared common phrases and expressions we use to order coffee in English… from the moment you walk in the door of a coffee shop to the moment you leave.

Here’s a summary plus some additional helpful language.

Common Menu Items

Here are some common drink items you’ll see on a menu at coffee shops.

  • Americano: espresso with extra hot water added
  • Cafe au Lait: brewed coffee with steamed (hot) milk
  • Cappuccino: espresso with steamed (hot) milk and foam
  • Chai: tea with milk, spices and sugar
  • Decaf: decaffeinated coffee
  • Doppio or Double: two shots of espresso
  • Half-Caff: 1/2 regular coffee, 1/2 decaffeinated coffee
  • Latte: espresso with steamed (hot) milk
  • Macchiato: espresso with a very small amount of steamed (hot) milk
  • Mocha: a latte with a little chocolate
  • Pour Over or Brewed Coffee: hot water poured over ground coffee
  • Iced: cold, with ice (common in the summer months)
  • Matcha latte: steamed milk with match (green tea) powder


Milk & Flavor Choices

When you order your coffee (or tea) drink, you may be asked what kind of milk you’d like, whether you’d like any sugar, or a flavored syrup. Here are common choices:

  • Whole milk (full fat milk)
  • 2% milk (lowfat milk)
  • Skinny or skim (non-fat milk)
  • Soy milk (milk made from soy beans)
  • Almond milk (milk made from almonds)
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Hazelnut syrup
  • Mocha (chocolate)


Coffee & Espresso Sizes

  • Small (tall)
  • Medium (grande)
  • Larger (venti)
  • 1 shot
  • 2 shots
  • 3 shots

Common Questions You’ll Hear

  • Next in line, please.
  • Who’s next?
  • I can help who’s next.
  • Can I help whoever’s next? Hi, there. What can I get you?
  • What are you having?
  • What’ll it be? (This is another way to ask what you would like to order.)
  • What would you like?
  • What can I do for you?
  • Would you like milk or cream?
  • Do you take milk or cream?
  • Any sugar or flavors?
  • Is that for here or to go?


Example Phrases for How to Order Coffee in English

  • I’d like a coffee to go. (I want just a regular coffee – no milk or sugar – to take with me out of the coffee shop.)
  • Can I get a cafe latte for here please? (I want to stay here in the coffee shop to drink my latte.)
  • I’ll have a skinny cappuccino. (A cappuccino with nonfat milk.)
  • I’d like a half-caff with soy milk and no sugar please. (half-caff = half caffeinated, half decaffeinated coffee)


What to Say When You’re Feeling Nervous or You Can’t Decide

If you are feeling nervous because it is busy, there are too many options, or you just don’t know what to say, here some common phrases you can use:

  • I’m sorry, I’m not ready yet. Please help someone else.
  • I’m sorry, I need an extra moment.
  • Here. You go ahead. I’m not ready to order yet. (Talking to another customer.)
  • I’m still trying to decide. You go ahead. (Talking to another customer.)

With those phrases, you can take extra time to think, calm down, and prepare what you want to say.

Sample Dialogues of What You Might Here in a Coffee Shop

Based on the language you learned in the video lesson, here are two dialogues to highlight what you’ll hear and what you should say when ordering a coffee in English.

Sample Dialogue One:

Barista: Hi – what can I get for you?

You: I’d like a medium mocha with 2% please.

Barista: Sure. What’s your name?

You: Sarah. S-a-r-a-h.

Barista: Great. That’s $3.50 please. It will be ready in a just a moment.

You: Thanks.

(a few minutes later)

Barista (loudly): Sarah – medium mocha with 2%?

You: That’s me! Thanks. (pick up your coffee and go)

Sample Dialogue Two:

Barista: Hi there – how are you today?

You: Fine, thanks. You? Can I get a double shot soy latte?

Barista: Sure. Do want a tall or grande?

You: Just a tall.

Barista. Alright. A tall double shot soy latte. That’s $4.30.

You: Here you are.

Barista: Thanks. It will be just a minute.

You: Great, thank you.

And finally, just for fun… 

If you’re a real coffee connoisseur or you love coffee culture, here are some fun links:

The History of Coffee Culture in America from Smithsonian Magazine

A Brief History of American Coffee Culture from The Culture Trip

After you’ve watched the video and reviewed the language you need to order coffee in English, I’d love to hear from you!

In fact, I have two challenge questions for you today.

  1. What’s your coffee drink of choice? Or, if you hate coffee, what is your drink preference?
  2. I’d love to hear about your experience at coffee shops in an English-speaking country. What differences have you noticed?

You can share with me and get feedback in the comments below. It’s also a great place to learn from others in the Confident English Community.

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie

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