Coffee! A great start to any day! But, how do you order a coffee like a native speaker?
Tom's Eat Sleep Dream English YouTube channel is full of informative videos about using real, natural British English. Since Tom used to work at Starbucks, he’s the perfect person to guide us through the order process, which can be a bit complicated sometimes! The language for this blog post comes from his video here.
Let's dive in.
Ok, so you’ve entered the cafe and joined the queue. That’s the easy part.
When it’s your turn to order, the barista (the person who makes your coffee) will greet you and ask you,
“What would you like?”
“What can I get you?”
Or, sometimes they’ll just wait, expecting you to make your order.
Ordering Your Coffee
You can tell the barista what kind of coffee you want. For example, you could say,
“I'd like a latte please.”
“One drip coffee please.”
Thought that was easy? But you know what? Sometimes that's not enough.
You have to tell them how you want your coffee done.
Hot or Iced?
Tell the barista the temperature of your drink: hot, extra hot or iced.
※ You could say cold instead of iced and they would still understand, but native speakers usually say, iced.
Then comes the size. Normally, it’s small, medium (or regular), and large. But Starbucks uses some Italian words, like short, tall, grande, venti.
- short – small
- tall – medium
- grande – large
- venti – very large
※ venti means number twenty in Italian!
How Much Caffeine?
Then, you can choose to have decaf coffee. This means without caffeine in it.
You can also ask to get one shot of espresso, two, or even three! Or you could also say, a single, double or triple shot.
An extra shot of espresso will make the coffee strong.
※ caffeine is pronounced kuh-feen
You have the option to add flavored syrup – hazelnut or caramel are my favorites, but vanilla is also popular.
Then there’s the type of milk: full fat, semi-skimmed or skinny – not to mention if you’d like a vegan alternative: soy, almond, or coconut.
Putting Them All Together
And finally, you can decide the type of coffee you want. Is it a cappuccino, a latte, a flat white?
Let's put everything we have learned so far together and order a coffee exactly the way you want. You might say,
“I'd like a tall hot cappuccino with an extra shot, please.”
“I'd like an iced soy caramel macchiato, please.”
For Here, or to Go?
Do you think that's a lot of information for the barista? They're trained to take your order and make your coffee, so don't worry! Once in a while, they may come across a customer with a crazy long order, but for the most part, they can handle it.
Will you be drinking your coffee at the coffee shop? Or will you take your coffee and go somewhere else? After your order, the barista will ask you,
Do you want it in or take away?
For here or to go?
Here's what the dialogue might look like between you and the barista.
Now, if you don’t want anything complicated, then you can make it simple!
If you just want a plain black coffee, order an americano. If you want milk with your americano, you can say, a white americano.
The barista will ask you about the size of your coffee, and whether you'll have it in or takeaway.
But they won't ask you about the type of milk, extra shot, or syrup if you don't mention them in your order.
So, next time you’re in a city with Starbucks, or any other coffee shop, see if you can order in English.
Try tricking the barista into thinking you’re a native speaker!