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Regardless of where you are in the world, there is one universal morning ritual that spans borders and cultures: drinking coffee.
But how do you order a coffee in Spanish? Are there certain phrases you need to know? What about ordering (or drinking) etiquette?
Today, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about ordering coffee — and other popular drinks — in Spanish.
We’ll also introduce you to the coffee shop etiquette in Mexico, show you how to greet your server and get the menu, how to order your drink and ask for alternative milk options if needed, how to ask about Wi-Fi, and finally, how to get the check and pay.
Ordering a Coffee in Spanish
In Mexico, as in most countries, there are different styles of coffee shops. Sometimes they have a bar where you can order, get your drink, and pay. After this, you decide if you want to sit or not.
Most of the coffee shops here have tables and servers so you can get in, sit down, and they’ll bring you the menu. Then, you can order at the table (and pay at the table when you’re done) — just like you would at a typical American restaurant.
Regardless of the cafe or coffee shop you visit, there are some standard phrases you’ll want to be familiar with. Here are some examples for greeting your barista to help you get started:
- Buenos Dias: Good morning
- Buenas Tardes: Good afternoon
- Buenas Noches: Good evening
- Si, gracias: Yes, thank you
- Claro que sí: Sure thing / Of course
- La Carta / El Menú: The menu
(Note: Carta and Menú both mean the exact same thing and are both commonly used throughout Spanish-speaking countries. It’s up to you or the coffee shop what you should use.)
- Tengo una pregunta: I have a question
- ¿Tienes alguna leche vegetal?: Do you have any plant-based milk?
Types of milk:
- Entera: Whole
- Light / Baja en grasa: Light
- Deslactosada: Lactose-free
Alternative milk options are:
- Soya: Soy
- Almendra: Almond
- Coco: Coconut
- Avena: Oat
Some more phrases that can be helpful when ordering drinks:
- ¿Me lo puedes hacer con leche de almendras?: Can you make it with almond milk?
- Caliente, por favor: Hot, please.
- Y sería todo por ahora: And that would be all for now.
- Déjame el menú por si se me antoja algo más: Leave the menu here in case I feel like having something else.
- ¿Me traes…, por favor?: Can you please bring me…?)
- ¿Me traes un café americano?: Can you bring me a black coffee?
Note: In some coffee shops, an Americano is a shot of espresso with extra hot water. In other places, it’s simply coffee grounds brewed in a regular coffee machine.
- ¿Te encargo un capuchino?: Can I get a cappuccino?
- ¿Te encargo un shot de expreso?: Can I get a shot of espresso?
Note: Expreso and Espreso are both commonly used all around the world in Spanish. Both of them are correct, but according to the Spanish Royal Academy, Expreso is the one we should be using.
- ¿Te encargo un cold brew, por favor?: Can I get a cold brew, please?
- ¿La tisana la puedes hacer fria?: Can the herbal tea be made cold?
- ¿Te encargo una de fresa y kiwi?: Can I get a strawberry-kiwi one?
- ¿Gusta…?: Would you like…?
- Agregar: To add / To put
- Miel: Honey
- Sin miel, gracias: Without honey, thanks.
One common phrase you may hear in Mexico is “Te encargo…” which you can translate as “Can I put you in charge of bringing… to me?” This is a common stand-in for , “Can I get…?”
While “Te encargo…” is a very common phrase used for ordering drinks and all over Mexico, it might not be common in other countries. People will understand you if you decide to use it somewhere else, but if you don’t hear anyone else use this phrase you can always use “Me traes…” (Can you bring me…?) Or “Me das…” (Can you give me…?)
In Mexico not many people use the plain “Quiero…” (I want…) It sounds a little bit too direct, which some people might interpret as rude. Mexicans generally aren’t very direct; they like to sugar coat phrases and make them more polite. So these phrases aren’t as common for that reason.
Now, one common reason people visit a cafe is to work or hang out. For that, you may need Wi-Fi — especially if you’re traveling and want to browse the internet and social media while you enjoy your coffee. Here’s how to ask if they have Wi-Fi:
- Disculpa, ¿tienen wifi? (Excuse me, do you have Wi-Fi?)
In Spanish, it is common for the staff to respond with:
- Ahorita te traigo la contraseña: I’ll bring you the password right away.
- Esta en el menu: It’s [written] on the menu.
Or they may also just tell you the name of the network and the password right away.
Something worth mentioning is that here in Mexico, most people say, “wifi” as in /Why-fi/. You can also ask if they have “internet inalambrico” (wireless internet) or “La contraseña del internet” (the internet password).
Getting the Check and Paying in Spanish
Here are some phrases you can use when you’re ready to ask for the check:
- ¿Te encargo la cuenta?: Would you bring me the check?
- Disculpa, ¿aceptas tarjetas?: Excuse me, do you take [credit/debit] cards?
These are some words and phrases you will need to know regarding tipping at a restaurant in Spanish:
- El Servicio / La propina: The tip
- ¿Cuenta cerrada o gusta agregar propina?: Do you want to close the bill or add a tip?
- ¿Me puedes poner el 15% de propina, por favor?: Can you please add a 15% tip?
In many places in Mexico, when you’re paying by card they’ll bring you the terminal and process the whole transaction at your table. This is for security reasons and for you to keep an eye on your card. You can also request for them to bring it to you and do the whole transaction at your table. Simply say “Voy a pagar con tarjeta, ¿me puedes traer la terminal, por favor?” (I’m going to be paying by card, can you please bring the terminal?
In some other establishments, if you’re paying by card they’ll ask you to go to the cash register and pay using your card there. They may say something like “¿Puede pasar a pagar en la caja, por favor?” (Would you please pay at the cash register?)
Coffee shops are a great place to sample local life and practice your Spanish while traveling. Check out our essential Spanish phrases all travelers should know to help you comfortably experience any Spanish-speaking country and go about life just like the locals!
And if you’re really serious about learning Spanish, definitely check out our Spanish Immersion Retreat opportunities to take your Spanish to the next level.