Life in Japan: How to Order Coffee in Japanese

For most people in Japan, coffee is an essential part of daily life. Japan takes their coffee game rather seriously, however ordering coffee in a foreign language can be intimidating – but don’t worry, we have you covered. In this article we go over how to order coffee in Japanese. List of contents:

When In a Cafe in Japan, How Should I Order?

Maybe you are having trouble with the menu?

Or you know what you want but the staff is having a difficult time understanding you?

Most Japanese cafes and coffee shops may have english menus, but the staff might not always understand what you are trying to order.

The first thing to know about ordering coffee in Japanese is that alot of the vocabulary is the same as in English. It’s just carries a different pronunciation from what you might be used to.

English vs Katakana Vocabulary When Ordering at a Japanese Cafe

For the most part, Japanese Cafes will have the same words as English speaking ones, but with Katakana pronounciation.
For example

  • “Cafe Latte” is カフェラテ (Kafe Rate)
  • “Drip Coffee” is ドリップコーヒー (Dorippu ko-hi-)
  • “Soy milk” is ソイミルク (Soi miruku)
  • “Espresso” is エスプレッソ (Esupuresso)

And so on. As a general rule, the names of the menu items will likely be the same as what you are familiar with, just get used to the katakana pronounciation.

Specifying Your Drink or Coffee Type in  Japanese

As with any cafe, most drinks can be served hot or cold, so when ordering in Japanese it is important to specify. Thankfully most Japanese coffee shops make it easy by listing these options with katakana pronounciation as well.
“Hot” is ホット (hotto) and “Cold” or “iced” is アイス (aisu)
Then just tell them the size and whether it is for here or to go!

When ordering for here or to go, the polite phrase often used is 店内で (tennnai de) and to go is お持ち帰りで (omochi kaeri de). Keep in mind some coffee stores – like Starbucks – use different terms for their sizes: short, tall, grande, etc. Instead of S, M, L – so just bear that in mind!

Put it Together to Order Coffee in Japanese!

Let’s say you want a grande (or medium size) iced mocha カフェモカ エムサイズ アイスで おねがいします Then the clerk hits you with 店内でお過ごしですか? You want to take it to go so you reply: いいえ、お持ち帰りで And there you have it! Now you know how to order coffee in Japanese at a cafe or coffee shop! We also have a youtube video that covers this on our youtube channel! Interested in taking online Japanese lessons? We offer online Japanese courses taught by professionals. For more information check out this link!

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