How to Order Coffee in Spanish Your Way

If you’re a coffee lover visiting a Spanish-speaking country, knowing how to order your cup of joe is a must. 

We’re here to save you from a pre-caffeine panic when the barista asks you “¿En que le puedo ayudar?” (How can I help you?) 

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know to order your favorite coffee drink.

We’ll go over how to place an order, the different types of coffee drinks and the many types of milks and other additives you can add to your cup. 

So brew yourself your favorite roast and settle in for a study session that will help to fuel your future travel adventures!


Phrases for Ordering Coffee in Spanish

A common mistake Spanish learners often make is using the phrase “Puedo tener…?” to order something at a café or restaurant, similar to how we say “Can I have…?” in English. This, however, is incorrect. 

You can use these phrases instead: 

Spanish English
Un café, por favor. A coffee, please.
¿Me da un café, por favor?
¿Me das un café, por favor?
Can you give me a coffee, please? (formal, informal)
Quisiera un café, por favor. / Me gustaría un café, por favor. I'd like a coffee, please.
Tráigame un café, por favor.
Tráeme un café, por favor.
Bring me a coffee, please. (formal, informal)
¿Me traería un café?
¿Me traerías un café?
Would you bring me a coffee? (formal, informal)
Voy a pedir un café con leche. I'm going to order a coffee with milk.
Para mí...un café con leche. For me...a coffee with milk.
¿Sería tan amable de traerme un café?
¿Serías tan amable de traerme un café?
Would you be so kind as to bring me a coffee? (formal, informal)

You may have experienced that moment of panic when the server or barista approaches you and you haven’t decided on your order yet. In those situations, you can use one of these phrases:

Curated authentic video library for all levels
  • Thousands of learner friendly videos (especially beginners)
  • Handpicked, organized, and annotated by FluentU's experts
  • Integrated into courses for beginners
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU
Un momento, por favor. Just a minute, please.
Todavía estoy viendo. I’m still looking.
No he decidido aún. I haven't decided yet.

How to Address the Staff at a Restaurant or Café

You may have noticed that we provided the formal and informal versions of a few of the phrases above. So should you use or usted with a server, barista or other staff at a restaurant or café?

In Spain, it’s very common to use the informal form with restaurant staff. It isn’t considered rude as long as you treat them with respect.

In Latin America, it’s also common for people to address restaurant staff as , although older people will often use usted and you’ll definitely hear this formal address more often than in Spain. If you want to be extra careful, you can use the usted form, especially if the person is older than you. 

However, again, it’s not considered rude to treat restaurant staff informally with the form, as long as you’re kind and polite. 

Essential Vocabulary for Placing Your Order

How best to order exactly what you want? Learn your coffee lingo! With so many choices, it’s not hard to mix things up, so let’s go over the basics.

Types of Coffee Drinks

café solo "only coffee"Popular in Spain, this is a single shot of espresso served in a small cup.
café negro black cofeeLike in English, this is just plain coffee with no milk, cream or sweetener.
café doble double coffeeThis one is also exactly what the name implies: two shots of espresso.
café americano American coffeeThis is typically espresso diluted with water.
cortado "cut coffee"This is espresso “cut” with a bit of milk.
café con leche coffee with milkThis usually comes with about half espresso (or coffee) and half milk.
café con leche y canela coffee with milk and cinnamonIn Mexico, coffee with cinnamon is called "café de olla."
café con hielo / café del tiempo coffee with iceUnless you're in a more modern coffee shop, you might just get some coffee and a cup of ice if you order this!
cafe descafeinado decaf coffeeThis won't be available everywhere, but if you want the coffee taste without the caffeine rush, now you can ask for it.
café instantáneo
/ café soluble
instant coffeeThis is popular in much of Latin America. You can ask “¿El café es instantáneo o en grano?” (“Is the coffee instant or whole bean?”).
café de tueste ligero

de tueste medio

de tueste oscuro
light roast coffee

medium roast

dark roast
If you're somewhere in Latin America that offers these options, you're probably in for a great cup of coffee.

If you’re buying coffee beans at a coffee shop, they’ll probably ask you if you want it en grano o molido (whole bean or ground).

Another way to say coffee in beans (not instant) is café para pasar , which literally translates to “coffee to pass” and means it will pass through the coffee or espresso machine. You can ask for this at a grocery store, for example.

If you want to learn more about coffee terms in Spanish, check out this video podcast:

Types of Milk

Nowadays, there are a plethora of milk options available. Don’t expect to have these options at most small coffee shops or restaurants in Latin America, but if you’re in a big city or a particularly touristy area, these terms may come in handy:

Video player for learners like you
  • Interactive subtitles: click any word to see detailed examples and explanations
  • Slow down or loop the tricky parts
  • Show or hide subtitles
  • Review words with our powerful learning engine
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU
leche entera whole milk
leche semidesnatada reduced fat milk
leche desnatada skim milk
leche condensada condensed milk
leche de vaca cow’s milk
leche de cabra goat’s milk
leche de soya soy milk
leche de almendra  almond milk
leche de avellana  hazelnut milk
leche de anacardo cashew milk
leche de avena oat milk
leche de coco coconut milk
leche vaporizada steamed milk
espuma foam
leche caliente hot milk
leche tibia warm milk

Again, not all types will be available everywhere, but it never hurts to ask—and practice your Spanish! 

Coffee Additives

Looking for something to mix into that café other than leche? Here are some common options:

azúcar sugar
miel honey
estevia stevia
edulcorante sweetener
crema cream
crema batida whipped cream
jarabes saborizados
(vainilla, caramelo, etc.)
flavored syrups
(vanilla, caramel, etc.)
canela cinnamon
cacao en polvo cocoa powder
nuez moscada nutmeg

Like with the different types of milk, these options won’t be available everywhere you go. But now you can ask for them or recognize them on a menu! 

Other Helpful Coffee-Related Vocabulary

If you’re a true coffee fan, you might need to know some of these useful terms related to ordering, drinking and preparing coffee:

Spanish English
una cafetería a café
una taza a mug
un vaso a glass
un termo a thermos
para llevar to go/to take away
para servir for here
una cafetera a coffee maker
un filtro de café a coffee filter
un molinillo de café a coffee grinder
una cafetera de émbolo / prensa francesa a French press
una máquina de espresso an espresso machine
granos de café coffee beans
aromático / aromática aromatic
el tueste de café the coffee roast
molido fino fine ground
molido grueso course ground
una cucharilla a teaspoon
una cucharada a scoop/tablespoon
empaque al vacío vaccuum-sealed

Regional Varieties of Coffee Drinks

Coffee is produced in so many Spanish-speaking countries it’s not surprising that they have a couple of special brews up their sleeves.

If you’re in Spain and want a coffee with a kick of alcohol, order un carajillo. This is espresso served with rum, whisky or brandy. If you’re in Chile around Christmas time, order a cola de mono or Colemono , usually made with aguardiente (a type of liquor), milk, sugar, coffee and cloves. 

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, order a café bombón. Originating in Valencia, Spain, it’s made by layering espresso with condensed milk and is typically served in a glass cup. 

If you’re in Cuba (or Miami), you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a café cubano, which is made by pouring a hot shot of espresso over sugar and then stirring them together. Or you can make your own at home:

Coffee Culture in Spanish-speaking Countries

Spanish-speaking countries are known for having a culture where tomar un café (to have a coffee) is a common expression and is done throughout the day, including after dinner. 

Master words through quizzes with context
  • Learn words in the context of sentences
  • Swipe left or right to see more examples from other videos
  • Go beyond just a superficial understanding
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

Coffee drinking in Spanish-speaking countries is a social event, a time for chatting with friends, family and colleagues. It’s something to be enjoyed and savored. Even early in the day, most who stop for a morning cup don’t rush out of the café.

That’s why you probably won’t see to-go cups in various sizes on display in most coffee shops in Spanish-speaking countries. If you order a café solo, you’ll probably get it in a very small cup—sometimes almost like a shot glass. Otherwise, your coffee drink will likely come in a mug.

If you can, try to do like the locals do and take some time to enjoy it, rather than rushing off to your next activity. 


And for more practice, watch native speakers order at restaurants and cafés with an immersive language learning program like FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month)

  FluentU Ad

Now you know how to order coffee in Spanish, in pretty much every way possible. 

Review and practice these words and phrases so the next time you’re in a Spanish-speaking country, you can confidently get your coffee fix!

And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.


Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.


Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.


The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe