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Ordering a drink

In this week’s blog I’ll describe what to expect when you order a drink in several different settings, provide some phrases you might want to use and also some that you might hear in response. Any specific language is in bold for you to look up in the dictionary yourself.


It’s good to remember that the British love a queue. Sometimes we join the back of a queue just to see what everyone is waiting for! The queueing system can be slightly different in cafes and bars, though, so I’ll describe what to expect below. Always do your best to join the back of a queue; skipping/cutting in can earn you dirty looks, tuts and some people will tell you off.

In a coffee shop/café

Some coffee shops are table service (someone comes to your table to take your order) and some are counter service (you have to order at the till). There’s usually a sign if a café does table service and you can almost always order at the counter anyway. If there’s a queue along the counter, be sure to join the back of it. While you’re queuing, check out the menu and decide what you want; do you want a cake or a biscuit? Ordering will be much easier if you know what it is that you want.

I’ll now give you an example of how I’d order a drink from the menu.

Server: Hi. Can I help you?

Customer: Morning. Can I have a {cappuccino}, please?

You can put any other drink in the brackets {}. Remember if you’re ordering more than one of the same kind of drink you’ll need to make it plural: Cappuccinos, Espressos, etc.

Server: Medium or Large? Customer: {Medium}, please. Server: Would you like cocoa powder?

Customer: No, thanks.

Server: Anything else?

Customer: No. Thank you.

If I order a drink that can be hot or cold, the server should ask you which one you want.

Customer: Hi. A latte, please.

Server: Hot or cold?

Customer: Cold, please.

Server: And is that a medium or large latte?

Customer: Medium is fine, thanks.

Here’s an example of a more complicated order (with cake!)

Server: Hello. What can I get for you?

Customer: Hi. Can I get {2 coconut milk lattes and an Irish coffee}?

Irish coffee is coffee, Irish whiskey and cream. They won’t sell this to you if you are under 18.

Server: Would you like the lattes hot or cold?

Customer: Hot.

Server: Sure. Would you like whipped cream on the Irish coffee?

Customer: Go on, then. (I accept the server’s suggestion because it sounds nice)

Server: Anything to eat with your coffee?

Customer: Oh yeah, that sounds good. Could I have a slice of {chocolate biscuit /ˈtʃɒk.lət//ˈbɪs.kɪt/ cake} and one (slice) of {gooey (sticky) /ˈɡuː.i/ lemon cake?}

Why not try going through these 3 examples and making your own choices? Don’t forget to look up any words you don’t recognize for definition and/or pronunciation

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