Just like in many other countries around the world, coffee is the No.1 non-alcoholic beverage in Germany.
In England, people traditionally celebrate the “5 o’clock tea”. In Italy or France, people meet in the evening to have an aperitif together.
And in the German culture? It is widespread to meet up for “Kaffee und Kuchen” – coffee and cake. They even have a particular word for it – “Kaffeekränzchen” (but to be honest, this mainly applies to elderly women).
Some people prefer to meet at home, and others favor meeting in a cafe on a market square observing the city life.
No matter which of these two groups you belong to, you should know how to order coffee or tea in German.
Ordering Coffee or Tea – Basic Vocabulary
- 🇩🇪 der/ein Kaffee – 🇺🇸 a coffee
- 🇩🇪 der/ein Tee – 🇺🇸 a tea
- 🇩🇪 die/eine Tasse – 🇺🇸 a cup
- 🇩🇪 das/ein Glas – 🇺🇸 a glass
- 🇩🇪 das/ein Café – 🇺🇸 a cafe
- 🇩🇪 die/eine Kneipe – 🇺🇸 a pub
- 🇩🇪 das/ein Restaurant – 🇺🇸 a restaurant
- 🇩🇪 die/eine Bar – 🇺🇸 a bar
- 🇩🇪 die Milch – 🇺🇸 milk
- 🇩🇪 der Zucker – 🇺🇸 sugar
- 🇩🇪 der/ein Süßstoff – 🇺🇸 sweetener
- 🇩🇪 bestellen – 🇺🇸 to order
How to order your type of coffee
It may happen that the coffee you would love to have, is not on the menu.
But it is not a big deal. You just have to ask the waiter for a slight modification of your coffee:
- 🇩🇪 schwarzer Kaffee – 🇺🇸 black coffee
- 🇩🇪 Kaffee mit Milch – 🇺🇸 coffee with milk
- 🇩🇪 Kaffee mit Zucker – 🇺🇸 coffee with sugar
- 🇩🇪 Milchkaffee – 🇺🇸 milky coffee
- 🇩🇪 Kaffee ohne Milch – 🇺🇸 coffee without milk
- 🇩🇪 Kaffee ohne Zucker – 🇺🇸 coffee without sugar
- 🇩🇪 kleiner Kaffee – 🇺🇸 a small cup of coffee
- 🇩🇪 großer Kaffee – 🇺🇸 a big cup of coffee
- 🇩🇪 entkoffeiniert – 🇺🇸 decaffeinated
- 🇩🇪 Sojamilch – 🇺🇸 soya milk
- 🇩🇪 laktosefreie Milch – 🇺🇸 lactose-free milk
- 🇩🇪 Vollmilch – 🇺🇸 full milk
- 🇩🇪 fettarme Milch – 🇺🇸 skimmed milk
- 🇩🇪 weißer Zucker – 🇺🇸 white sugar
- 🇩🇪 brauner Zucker – 🇺🇸 brown sugar
- 🇩🇪 Kaffeesahne – 🇺🇸 coffee cream *
Asking for the Way to a Cafe in German?
You are in an unfamiliar city in Germany, your phone battery is empty, and you would kill for a hot cup of coffee.
If you don’t want to end up searching for a cafe for hours on your own, you will have to ask a local for advice.
Here are some handy phrases for you:
🇩🇪 Entschuldigung, …
🇺🇸 Excuse me, …
🇩🇪 Gibt es ein gutes Café in der Nähe?
🇺🇸 Is there a good cafe nearby?
🇩🇪 Wo gibt es den besten Kaffee der Stadt?
🇺🇸 Where do they have the best coffee in the city?
🇩🇪 Wie komme ich zum Café “Die Bohne”?
🇺🇸 How do I get to the coffee shop “Die Bohne”?
🇩🇪 Wo finde ich die Bar “Maria’s Tasse”?
🇺🇸 Where do I find the bar “Maria’s Tasse”?
🇩🇪 Können Sie mir ein Café empfehlen?
🇺🇸 Can you recommend a good cafe to me?
Giving directions in German is a big topic, but I’ll try to show you some possible answers here:
🇩🇪 Es gibt viele Cafés in der Nähe. Am besten finde ich das am Ende der Straße.
🇺🇸 There are many cafes nearby. I like the one at the end of the street the most.
🇩🇪 Den besten Kaffee der Stadt gibt es bei Steffi am Marktplatz.
🇺🇸 The best coffee in the city is served at Steffi’s on the market square.
🇩🇪 Sie müssen die Straße runter bis zur Kirche, dann links.
🇺🇸 You have to go down the street to the church. Then you go left.
🇩🇪 An der Kreuzung rechts und dann noch etwa zweihundert Meter gerade aus.
🇺🇸 You have to go right at the crossroads and then about two hundred meters straight ahead.
🇩🇪 Mein Lieblingscafé befindet sich am Fluss, in der Nähe des Kinos.
🇺🇸 My favorite coffee shop is by the river, near to the cinema.
How to Order a Coffee in German
Now you have found the right cafe, let us look at some phrases that help you order a coffee.
The essential thing in interpersonal communication is to be polite and respectful. So always remember to say “hello” to the waiter before you start with your order.
Here are few formulations you may use while ordering:
🇩🇪 Haben Sie einen freien Tisch für zwei personen?
🇺🇸 Do you have a free table for two?
🇩🇪 Ich hätte gerne ein Latte Macchiato.
🇺🇸 I would like a Latte Macchiato.
🇩🇪 Für mich nur einen schwarzen Kaffee.
🇺🇸 Just a black coffee for me.
🇩🇪 Ich nehme einen Espresso.
🇺🇸 I will take an Espresso.
🇩🇪 Die heiße Schokolade mit Schlagsahne sieht gut aus.
🇺🇸 The hot chocolate with the whipped cream looks good.
🇩🇪 Was können Sie mir empfehlen?
🇺🇸 What can you recommend to me?
Be careful: in a good cafe, you might be asked if you would like to have a “Kännchen” (a pot) or a “Tasse” (a cup) of coffee. There are no refills in Germany. If you want to have more coffee after the first one, you have to order another one.
Have you already had too much caffeine today? Maybe you just don’t like the taste of coffee or need something to calm down your nerves?
There is another hot beverage, which is an excellent alternative to coffee – tea.
How to Order Tea in German
I have to warn you at this point. Although there are probably as many tea-lovers in Germany as there are in other countries, the tea-drinking culture is not that distinctive in Germany.
Of course, you can get black or green tea in almost every bar, but you should not expect every possible tea variety in a typical cafe.
But there are special tea shops too so that tea junkies aren’t disappointed!
- 🇩🇪 eine Tasse Tee – 🇺🇸 a cup of tea
- 🇩🇪 schwarzer Tee – 🇺🇸 black tea
- 🇩🇪 grüner Tee – 🇺🇸 green tea
- 🇩🇪 Minztee – 🇺🇸 mint tea
- 🇩🇪 mit Zucker – 🇺🇸 with sugar
- 🇩🇪 mit Milch – 🇺🇸 with milk
- 🇩🇪 mit Honig – 🇺🇸 with honey
- 🇩🇪 mit Zitrone – 🇺🇸 with lemon
- 🇩🇪 Eistee – 🇺🇸 iced tea
Important culture note:
British tea drinkers often face disappointment when they order their black tea with milk. It is uncommon for any other culture to drink it like that. So when you ask for milk, you will usually get coffee creamer. It really doesn’t taste the same. If you really want to be clear, say
🇩🇪 Ich möchte bitte Vollmilch, nicht Kaffeesahne – 🇺🇸 I’d like full milk, not coffee creamer, please
Finally, whether you have had a meal or just a tea or coffee, it is appropriate to leave a tip for the waiter. It is usually about 5-10% of what you have paid for your order.
Fun fact: When you join a larger group of people already sitting at a table, it is polite to say “hello”. But nobody likes to shout it over other people’s heads. Instead, you can knock on the edge of the table, make short eye contact with everyone, and then take your place.
Now, enjoy your coffee!