Ordering coffee can be confusing if you’ve never gone to a coffee shop before; some people even feel like it’s almost impossible to figure out the language of coffee. Ordering your favorite beverage in-store doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker though, as you will soon learn in this guide below.
Cap: This simply means you want a cappuccino
Decaf: This is a coffee with almost no caffeine. In order to be classified as decaf, the coffee must only have 3% caffeine.
Double: This doubles up on a topping or ingredient of your choice.
Double Double: This quadruples a topping or ingredient of your choice.
Dry: A coffee that is only made with frothed milk
Extra: This refers to flavoring and sugar and tells the barista you want extra of a selected ingredient.
Half-Caf: This is a coffee that is 50% regular and 50% decaf.
House: This is the special of the coffee house that you are at. It will vary from place to place.
Mocha: This is a coffee beverage that uses chocolate flavoring.
Regular: Fully caffeinated coffee that doesn’t have any extras added in.
Rice: A milk substitute that uses rice instead of dairy products.
Quad: This will give you four shots of espresso.
Skinny: Coffee that is made with skim milk.
Shot: A single shot of espresso.
Single: A drink with one shot of espresso added in.
Solo: A drink of any size made with one shot of espresso.
Soy: A drink that replaces the traditional milk with a soy substitute.
Sugar-Free: A coffee beverage that uses no sugar or sugar substitutes.
Triple: This term is used if you want three shots of espresso.
Wet: This drink has plenty of milk inside with little to no foam.
Whip: This term will add whip cream on top of your coffee.
No Whip: This will tell the barista to hold the whipped cream.
With Legs: This tells the barista that you need your coffee in a to-go cup.
The number one place people get nervous is at the counter. If you don’t know what you want to drink, then it’s best to study the menu. Memorize the terms above and think about what type of coffee you like to drink at home.
If you like sweet coffee, then you may want to order a mocha. If you drink your coffee straight, then a regular coffee will do the trick. On top of knowing the different terms though, you also need to find out what type of coffee beans and flavoring are available at the shop.
Every coffee shop is going to be different from each other and a mom and pop shop will be different from Starbucks. If you aren’t sure of what they offer, ask to see a small menu. Most places will be able to at least give you a quick rundown of flavor options.
This may seem a bit confusing at first, but everyone has a different coffee personality. This is developed over time as you explore deeper into the coffee world. If you haven’t had much coffee before though, you may feel completely lost.
Think about what type of foods and drinks you enjoy. If you love sweets, then you may want to go with a mocha or add whip cream to your drink. If you find yourself drinking energy drinks, then espresso shots are perfect for you.
If you can’t stand hot tea, then you may want to go with a gold brew. On the flip side, those who prefer hot drinks should go with a cappuccino. Coffee also seems to be linked with jobs and personality types as well.
Energetic people tend to love espresso shots, while more laid back people seem to love a hot drink. For more serious drinkers, regular coffee seems to be a favorite, while younger teens seem to enjoy mochas.
Before you get up to the counter, make a mental note of exactly what you want to order. Remember to start with a size and then start listing off what type of coffee you want. Once the size and type of coffee are settled, you can start talking about add-ins like flavor.
If it helps, bring a list with you when you go to the register. It is easy to write down the beverage you want to try on your phone. Don’t be afraid of trying new beverages or being specific on the amount of flavoring or milk you like in your drink.
You can even use specific measurements like telling the barista you want a tablespoon of sugar. This will help them make your perfect drink and ensure that you’re not wasting money on a beverage that you hate. Make sure to note any allergies you have as well.
If you are allergic to cinnamon like me, then there are probably tons of beverages like pumpkin spice that you should avoid. Milk is used in almost every drink, so be sure to ask for a milk substitute when ordering.
Even with the terms above, you may find it difficult at some stores to order coffee quickly. Every coffee house can differ, especially if you are in a different country or state. Try to look at the menu to determine how the drinks are described.
While Starbucks may have Venti cups, the coffee house down the road from you may use regular sizing. While things like espresso shots are usually safe, asking for a wet drink, maybe a little more difficult in some places.
There are tons of ways to order coffee out there, but you don’t need to be nervous about it. Most coffee houses are welcoming to newcomers and before long, you will know all the terms. Remember to sort out your order before you get to the register and be as specific as you can when ordering.
Coffee Term Glossary
How to Order Coffee