A huge coffee lover like myself, I did struggle for a while when I first came to Chile, not knowing how to order my favorite beverage. I had to rely on my boyfriend to buy my coffee, which was a blow to my self-confidence. I made sure to learn some essential phrases.
Whether it is your morning cup of coffee or tea or a beer to wash down your lunch, it will make your life much easier when you learn how to order what you like in Spanish.
Have you read my post on essential Spanish expressions for restaurants? It will definitely come in handy when you need to make yourself understood while booking a table, asking for a menu, place your order, and such.
As for some more specific vocabulary that you’ll need when ordering a cup of coffee / tea or a glass of beer in Spanish, I have prepared a list of the must-know words and phrases:
Essential Spanish vocabulary related to ordering coffee, tea, or beer
- 🇪🇸 un café – 🇬🇧 a coffee, NOT a café
- 🇪🇸 un té – 🇬🇧 a tea
- 🇪🇸 una cerveza – 🇬🇧 a beer
- 🇪🇸 una taza – 🇬🇧 a cup
- 🇪🇸 un vaso – 🇬🇧 a glass
- 🇪🇸 una cafetería – 🇬🇧 a coffee shop, a café
- 🇪🇸 un bar – 🇬🇧 a bar, a pub
- 🇪🇸 azúcar blanca / rubia – 🇬🇧white / brown sugar
- 🇪🇸 endulzante – 🇬🇧 sweetener
- 🇪🇸 leche – 🇬🇧 milk
- 🇪🇸 crema / nata – 🇬🇧 cream
- 🇪🇸 ordenar – 🇬🇧 to order
- 🇪🇸 una tetera – 🇬🇧 a tea pot
With these introductory words, you will at least be able to get started. But if you like your tea, coffee, or beer in a certain way, you should have a look at some more specific vocabulary.
Asking where to find a coffee shop or a bar
Knowing how to ask for Spanish directions is a crucial skill that helps you get around even the most prominent city. With a few simple expressions, you can easily ask your way when you are dying of thirst or need a quick caffeine fix.
🇪🇸 ¿Hay una cafetería / un bar cerca de aquí?
🇬🇧 Is there a coffee shop / a bar close to here?
🇪🇸 ¿Dónde está la cafetería Tavelli, por favor?
🇬🇧 Where is the Tavelli coffee shop, please?
🇪🇸 Disculpe, ¿cómo llego al bar La Salvación ?
🇬🇧 Excuse me, how do I get to La Salvación bar?
🇪🇸 ¿Me puedes recomendar un buen bar? – (“tú” gives it an informal context.)
🇬🇧 Can you recommend a good bar?
🇪🇸 ¿Me puede recomendar un buen bar? – (“usted” gives it a formal context.)
🇬🇧 Can you recommend a good bar?
As you see, these last two questions look the same in English, which is why native English speakers often struggle with choosing the right pronoun. Skillful juggling between tú, usted, vosotros and ustedes is one of the common problems people have when learning Spanish.
Asking for a table in Spanish
Bars and coffee shops in tourist destinations like Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogota tend to be busy. That is why you should always consider booking your table in advance. Unless, of course, you settle for Starbucks, which has successfully plowed its way to Spanish speaking markets.
But if you are up for a more “local” experience, here’s a bunch of useful expressions:
🇪🇸 Tengo una reserva a nombre de…
🇬🇧 I have a reservation under the name of….
🇪🇸 ¿Tiene una mesa para dos?
🇬🇧 Do you have a table for a party of two?🇪🇸
🇪🇸 Nos puede poner en la lista de espera, por favor.
🇬🇧 Can you put us on a waiting list, please?
In case you just need a quick morning coffee, you’ll be happy to know that the Spanish and Latin culture also admits “gulping” rather than “savoring”. Many coffee shops have stand-up bars, where you can quickly get your espresso, pay, and leave.
You’ll normally find them downtown and in other busy office areas of the city. Mind you – around 9 AM (before work), and around 3 PM (after lunch) they can get really crowded.
The caffeine lover guide to ordering coffee in Spanish
Ordering a cup of coffee in Spanish can be a surprising discovery: the taste is not the same, the serving sizes are all wrong. Remember that Latin America has easy access to Colombian or Brazilian coffee, which is considered one of the world’s best. Hence a rich and complex flavor that can take the Nescafé drinkers to a whole new coffee world.
If you are used to having your latte in Venti or Trenta size, better head to a Starbucks or one of its local equivalents. More typical coffee shops serve coffee in much smaller cups.
Ordering a coffee nowadays, with all the options available, requires you to make so many choices.
Size is only the first one.
Typical coffee types in Spanish
- 🇪🇸 café solo / un espresso – 🇬🇧 coffee alone, a single shot of espresso
- 🇪🇸 un espresso doble – 🇬🇧 two shots of espresso
- 🇪🇸 un americano – 🇬🇧 an espresso with extra hot water added to make for a weaker brew
- 🇪🇸 un cortado – 🇬🇧 an espresso with a little milk, similar to Macchiato
- 🇪🇸 un café con leche grande – 🇬🇧 a big cup of coffee with milk (half and a half)
- 🇪🇸 un latte pequeño – 🇬🇧 a small latte
- 🇪🇸 un mocha mediano – 🇬🇧 a medium mocha
- 🇪🇸 un cappuccino – 🇬🇧 a cappuccino
- 🇪🇸 un irlandés – 🇬🇧 “Irish” coffee with a shot of whiskey and whipped cream
- 🇪🇸 un descafeinado – 🇬🇧 a decaf
- 🇪🇸 café instantáneo – 🇬🇧 instant coffee
What kind of milk would you like with your coffee?
Those who like to have their coffee with milk will surely want to know about the names of different milk options in Spanish.
- 🇪🇸 leche entera – 🇬🇧 whole milk
- 🇪🇸 leche semi descremada /semi desnatada – 🇬🇧 semi-skimmed milk
- 🇪🇸 leche descremada / desnatada – 🇬🇧 skimmed milk
- 🇪🇸 leche sin lactosa – 🇬🇧 lactose-free milk
- 🇪🇸 leche de soya / de arroz / de coco / de avena – 🇬🇧 soy / rice / coconut / oat milk
Ordering coffee in Spanish – essential expressions
Do you feel prepared enough to order your coffee? Let’s have a look at a couple of sample dialogues:
A: Un espresso doble, por favor.
B: ¿Azúcar o endulzante?
A: Endulzante, por favor. Ojalá stevia, si tiene.
A: A double espresso, please.
B: Sugar or sweetener?
A: Sweetener, please. Hopefully stevia, if you have it.
A: Quiero un cortado.
B: Por supuesto, señor. ¿Qué tipo de leche desea?
A: Entera, por favor. Y un sachet de azúcar rubia.
A: I’ll have a “cortado”.
B: Certainly, sir. What type of milk would you like?
A: Whole, please. And a sachet of brown sugar.
As you can notice, the Spanish version uses the verb “quiero”, which literally means “I want”. While it may sound a little arrogant and rude in English, it is perfectly acceptable and commonly used in Spanish.
A: Un café mediano para llevar, por favor.
B: ¿Lo quiere con leche o crema?
A: No, café solo.
A: A medium coffee to go, please.
B: Do you want some milk or cream with it?
A: No, I’ll have it black.
Useful Spanish phrases for a cuppa tea
Are you not really a fan of coffee? Fair enough. Instead, perhaps you like a steaming cup of Earl Grey with a slice of lemon? Or a mug of traditional English Breakfast with milk and a few cookies?
Sorry, biscuits. 😉
Here are a few tips for those of you whose British soul longs for a well-prepared cup of tea.
First of all, keep your expectations down. Spanish speaking countries traditionally drink way more coffee than tea. Until recently, there was not really much to choose from in terms of tea varieties, and very little knowledge about proper tea brewing.
Things are changing, though, and the Spanish speaking world is slowly giving the tea a chance. Specialized tea stores are popping up and more and more places are offering quite decent tea service. You can even find the spicy Chai or exotic Rooibos around here.
Let’s not forget about the traditional South American tea-like caffeine drink called mate. When in Argentina, Uruguay or Paraguay, make sure to try it!
Upset stomach? Anxiety? Urinary infections? Latin Americans swear by their herbal teas! Camomile, mint, lemon balm, rosehip, you name it! And if you are brave enough, you can also try some more local herbs whose healing properties were discovered by the indigenous Maya, Incas, Aztecas or Mapuches cultures.
Tea related words in Spanish
Here’s what will keep you afloat:
- 🇪🇸 té negro / rojo / verde / blanco – 🇬🇧 black / red / green / white tea
- 🇪🇸 una rodaja de limón – 🇬🇧 a slice of lemon
- 🇪🇸 una infusión de manzanilla – 🇬🇧 camomile tea
- 🇪🇸 un surtido de tés – 🇬🇧 assorted teas
- 🇪🇸 un té de hierbas – 🇬🇧 herbal tea
- 🇪🇸 menta fresca – 🇬🇧fresh mint
- 🇪🇸 té helado – 🇬🇧 iced tea
- 🇪🇸 miel – 🇬🇧 honey
- 🇪🇸 una taza – 🇬🇧 a cup
- 🇪🇸 un tazón – 🇬🇧 a mug
A: ¿Me puede traer una taza de té, por favor?
B: Por supuesto, ¿quiere algún té en particular?
A: Cualquier té negro estará bien.
A: Can you bring me a cup of tea, please?
B: Of course, any tea in particular?
A: Any black tea will do.
A: ¿Tiene té verde?
B: No, señor, solo tenemos infusiones y té negro. Si quiere, le muestro el surtido.
A: Bueno, gracias.
A: Do you have green tea?
B: No, sir, we only have herbal teas and black tea. If you wish, I can show you our assortment.
A: OK, thanks.
A: ¿Qué variedad de té es? ¡Está delicioso!
B: Es una mezcla que hacemos acá, señora.
A: Tráigame otro tazón, por favor.
A: What tea variety is it? It’s delicious!
B: It’s a blend we make here, madam.
A: Please bring me one more cup.
A: ¿Te puedo pedir una rodaja de limón para mi té? Y un poco de miel?
B: Se los traigo de inmediato, señorita.
A: Muy amable, gracias.
A: Can I ask for a slice of lemon for my tea? And a little honey?
B: I’ll get them right away, Miss.
A: That’s very kind of you, thanks.
How to order a beer in Spanish and not die trying
No hot beverage will calm your thirst like a cold pint. And considering the type of weather prevailing in Latin America or the Iberian Peninsula, chances are you will be thirsty most of the time.
For such a popular drink like a beer, each country has invented an informal local name. Here are some of them:
- una caña – Spain
- una chela – Mexico, Chile, Peru
- una birra – Argentina
- una biela – Ecuador
- una fría – Puerto Rico
- una pola – Colombia
- una fría – Guatemala
Reading the beer menu list in Spanish
Sitting at a local restaurant after a busy sightseeing morning in some sunny Latin American city, majestic Barcelona or cosmopolitan Madrid? Here is what you will most likely find on the beer list:
- 🇪🇸 una caña – 🇬🇧 a small glass of beer (a little less than half-pint)
- 🇪🇸un tercio / una garza – 🇬🇧 a 320 ml bottle of beer
- 🇪🇸 un quinto / un botellín – 🇬🇧 ⅕ of a liter
- 🇪🇸 un schop / un chopp – 🇬🇧 a mug of beer
- 🇪🇸 una jarra de cerveza para compartir – 🇬🇧 a jug of beer to share
- 🇪🇸 un ale / un lager / un porter / un stout – 🇬🇧 same names in English
- 🇪🇸 una cerveza artesanal – 🇬🇧 a craft beer
- 🇪🇸 cerveza de barril, un schop – 🇬🇧 draft beer
- 🇪🇸 cerveza en botella – 🇬🇧 a bottled beer
- 🇪🇸 cerveza en lata – 🇬🇧 canned beer
- 🇪🇸 un vaso de cerveza – 🇬🇧 a glass of beer
- 🇪🇸 cerveza de trigo – 🇬🇧 wheat beer
- 🇪🇸 cerveza sin filtrar – 🇬🇧 unfiltered beer
- 🇪🇸 cerveza sin alcohol – 🇬🇧 alcohol-free beer
The way the word “alcohol” is pronounced in Spanish is quite different than in English. The “H” is mute, so is the second “O”, which makes the word sound like “al·kol”.
Una cervecita bien helada, aka how to order beer in Spanish
For some reason, using the diminutive form of nouns is common among Spanish speakers (especially those from Latin America). Everything tends to be little for them:
un café becomes un cafecito
un té transforms into un tecito
una cerveza shrinks into una cervecita
Sometimes it’s out of respect, other times out of affection.
So if someone tells you “Vamos a tomarnos una cervecita”, they are merely suggesting you both go for a beer.
Look at the short conversations below to get an idea of how to inquire about and order beer in Spanish:
A: ¿Qué cerveza tiene?
B: De la nacional tenemos Cristal y Escudo, y de la importada Heineken, Corona y Budweiser.
A: Tráigame una Corona bien heladita, por favor.
A: What beer do you have?
B: From the national brands we have Cristal y Escudo, and from the imported ones Heineken, Corona, and Budweiser.
A: I’ll have a Corona, please. Make sure it’s well cold.
A: ¿Qué cerveza me recomienda?
B: ¿Le gusta oscura o clara?
A: Prefiero una oscura.
B: Tenemos un porter artesanal muy bueno.
A: What beer do you recommend?
B: Do you like dark or light?
A: I prefer dark.
B: We have a very good craft porter.
A: 2 schops, una cerveza sin alcohol y una Corona con limón, por favor.
B: ¿Algo para comer?
A: Unos nachos con guacamole y unas papas fritas grandes con queso para compartir.
A: 2 glasses of draft beer, one alcohol-free, and a Corona with lemon, please.
B: Something to eat?
A: Nachos with guacamole and large cheese fries to share.
A: Otra ronda de lo mismo, por favor.
B: Me temo que ya se nos acabó la cerveza en barril.
A: Cámbiela por una Chrysler, entonces.
A: Another round (of the same drinks), please.
B: I’m afraid we´ve run out of the draft beer.
A: Change it for a Chrysler, then.