Everyday English: Ordering Coffee
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Everyday English: Ordering Coffee

Preparing for your IELTS test is really important, but what about real life English? Could you order a coffee in a busy coffee shop? Sounds simple I know but even the most advanced English users can stumble when it comes to this.  There are more and more coffee shops full of people drinking amazing beverages. From ‘skinny soy lattes with an extra shot’ to ‘venti caramel macchiatos to go’… (Most of the words are not English but have been borrowed from languages like Italian.) So, where do you begin? My advice is to work out what you will order before you go and practise saying it.  Fortunately, there are some common names for different styles of coffees. Use this list to work out a basic order and avoid any stress at the counter.   Add these words to get a cold drink or a decaffeinated drink. You could even add both e.g. ‘an iced, decaf latte’ Iced (+ any of the above orders): cold, with ice  Decaf (+ any of the above orders): decaffeinated coffee Milk  When you order your coffee, you may be asked what kind of milk you’d like. Here is a list of the most common options on offer.  Whole milk / full fat milk Semi skimmed / low fat milk Skimmed / fat free milk  Soymilk (milk made from soybeans) Almond milk (milk made from almonds) Some coffee shops have coconut milk and oat milk too!  Most people use the word ‘skinny’ to show that they want a fat free milk choice. If you don’t say you want your drink to be ‘skinny’ you will get whole milk. Extras As well as choosing your milk you can choose to add flavours and other extras to your drink. Here are some of the most common options.  A shot of vanilla syrup A shot of hazelnut syrup A shot of caramel  Mocha (chocolate) Whipped cream Extra foam (more foam than the standard serving in a cappuccino) Cup Sizes Another thing that confuses everyone is the sizes. Different coffee shops use different words to describe the size of their drinks. I have included the names used by Starbucks as I find them the most confusing of all!  Be warned, in some countries the size of coffee cups is enormous, have a look around on the counter to see if you can see the size of the cups they use.  Even a small coffee may be a lot bigger than you are used to! Watch out, you get more shots of coffee and more caffeine!   Questions the barista (a person who serves in a coffee bar) might ask The barista might ask you a long list of questions to get the details of your order right. This can make even the most confident person feel nervous, it is often a noisy place and things happen fast. Think about these questions and how you would answer them for your perfect cup of coffee.  Hi, there. What can I get you? / What are you having? / What would you like? Would you like milk with that? Regular milk? What size is that? (What size cup do you want?) Any flavours or other extras? Is that for here or to go? (are you drinking in the shop or are you taking the coffee with you?) Is that all? (Do you want to order anything else, more drinks, food?) Can I have your name, please? (the barista will call you when your drink is ready Phrases to order coffee in English If you know exactly what you want, give the barista as much detail as possible, this will mean far fewer questions to answer!  I’d like a tall, decaf, Americano to go, please.   Can I get a skinny soy latte for here please?  Could I have a regular full-fat cappuccino with extra foam please? Also, I would like a blueberry muffin and a banana. Thank you.  The next time you arrange to meet a friend in a coffee shop you don’t need to worry about ordering, you should be able to work out the kind of thing that you want in advance and then order like a local! Good luck! If you would like to learn more Everyday English please do let us know on Facebook or Instagram! Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

20 November, 2020

Everyday English: Ordering Coffee

Everyday English: Ordering Coffee

Preparing for your IELTS test is really important, but what about real life English? Could you order a coffee in a busy coffee shop? Sounds simple I know but even the most advanced English users can stumble when it comes to this. 

There are more and more coffee shops full of people drinking amazing beverages. From ‘skinny soy lattes with an extra shot’ to ‘venti caramel macchiatos to go’… (Most of the words are not English but have been borrowed from languages like Italian.) So, where do you begin? My advice is to work out what you will order before you go and practise saying it. 

Fortunately, there are some common names for different styles of coffees. Use this list to work out a basic order and avoid any stress at the counter.

Types of Coffee Beverages

 

Add these words to get a cold drink or a decaffeinated drink. You could even add both e.g. ‘an iced, decaf latte’

  • Iced (+ any of the above orders): cold, with ice 
  • Decaf (+ any of the above orders): decaffeinated coffee

Milk 

When you order your coffee, you may be asked what kind of milk you’d like. Here is a list of the most common options on offer. 

  • Whole milk / full fat milk
  • Semi skimmed / low fat milk
  • Skimmed / fat free milk 
  • Soymilk (milk made from soybeans)
  • Almond milk (milk made from almonds)
  • Some coffee shops have coconut milk and oat milk too! 

Most people use the word ‘skinny’ to show that they want a fat free milk choice. If you don’t say you want your drink to be ‘skinny’ you will get whole milk.

Extras

As well as choosing your milk you can choose to add flavours and other extras to your drink. Here are some of the most common options. 

  • A shot of vanilla syrup
  • A shot of hazelnut syrup
  • A shot of caramel 
  • Mocha (chocolate)
  • Whipped cream
  • Extra foam (more foam than the standard serving in a cappuccino)

Cup Sizes

Another thing that confuses everyone is the sizes. Different coffee shops use different words to describe the size of their drinks. I have included the names used by Starbucks as I find them the most confusing of all!  Be warned, in some countries the size of coffee cups is enormous, have a look around on the counter to see if you can see the size of the cups they use.  Even a small coffee may be a lot bigger than you are used to! Watch out, you get more shots of coffee and more caffeine!

Cup Sizes

 

Questions the barista (a person who serves in a coffee bar) might ask

The barista might ask you a long list of questions to get the details of your order right. This can make even the most confident person feel nervous, it is often a noisy place and things happen fast. Think about these questions and how you would answer them for your perfect cup of coffee. 

  • Hi, there. What can I get you? / What are you having? / What would you like?
  • Would you like milk with that? Regular milk?
  • What size is that? (What size cup do you want?)
  • Any flavours or other extras?
  • Is that for here or to go? (are you drinking in the shop or are you taking the coffee with you?)
  • Is that all? (Do you want to order anything else, more drinks, food?)
  • Can I have your name, please? (the barista will call you when your drink is ready

Phrases to order coffee in English

If you know exactly what you want, give the barista as much detail as possible, this will mean far fewer questions to answer! 

  • I’d like a tall, decaf, Americano to go, please.  
  • Can I get a skinny soy latte for here please? 
  • Could I have a regular full-fat cappuccino with extra foam please? Also, I would like a blueberry muffin and a banana. Thank you.

 The next time you arrange to meet a friend in a coffee shop you don’t need to worry about ordering, you should be able to work out the kind of thing that you want in advance and then order like a local! Good luck!

If you would like to learn more Everyday English please do let us know on Facebook or Instagram!

Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

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