Using the Chinese phrase “我要一杯咖啡”(Wǒ yào yībēi kāfēi, I would like a cup of coffee), to order a cup of coffee really isn’t sufficient these days. What about the size? Would you like it flavoured? How about the kind of coffee bean? None of this is covered by “我要一杯咖啡”. Here are some other things you can say to order a coffee using Mandarin Chinese language to properly order a cup of coffee.
Core Chinese sentence structure
This is the general structure of how you would order coffee in Chinese. It looks complicated and long but keep in mind that you don’t need to use all the elements, and it’s likely that you have a favourite order that you can simply memorize for convenience.
Greeting + “I would like a ” + size + iced + flavor + drink type + customizations + for here/to go + “thank you.”
Greeting in Chinese
First, start with a simple “你好”(Nǐ hǎo, hello). Do not greet a barista with “你好吗”. If you say “你好吗” with a big smile, it might appear that you’re flirting…poorly! (Here more on greetings in Chinese.)
Drink size might sound like one of the simplest aspects of ordering a coffee but thanks to Starbucks, it isn’t.
Normal coffee sizing:
- Small coffee: xiǎo bēi 小杯Medium coffee: zhōng bēi 中杯Large coffee: dà bēi 大杯
Starbucks coffee sizing:
- Short: xiǎo bēi 小杯
- Tall: zhōng bēi 中杯
- Grande: dà bēi 大杯 ／biāozhǔn bēi标准杯
- Venti: Chāodà bēi 超大杯
In order to increase revenue, the ‘short’ coffee size (小杯 xiǎo bēi) isn’t usually displayed on the counter at Starbucks. Frequently what this means is that if you point at the smallest cup on the counter and say “我要一杯小杯咖啡”（Wǒ yào yībēi xiǎo bēi kāfēi, I want a small cup of coffee) , the nice barista will answer “对不起，这是中杯” (Duìbùqǐ, zhè shì zhōng bēi。Sorry, this is a tall.)
Describe your coffee in Chinese
Instead of “咖啡” (Kāfēi，Coffee), use one of the more descriptive words below. If you would like your drink iced or flavoured you simply add “冰” (bīng, iced ) and your flavour before your coffee type. For example, Iced mocha is “冰摩卡” (bīng mókǎ).
Coffee types in Chinese
- Espresso: yì shì nóngsuō 意式浓缩
- Double Espresso: shuāng fèn yì shì nóngsuō 双份意式浓缩
- Americano: měishì kāfēi 美式咖啡
- Black Coffee: hēi kāfēi 黑咖啡
- Cappucino: kǎ bù qí nuò 卡布奇诺
- Latté: ná tiě 拿铁
- Mocha: mókǎ 摩卡
- Macchiato: mǎ qí duǒ 玛奇朵
Chinese Coffee flavours
- Caramel: jiāo táng 焦糖
- Vanilla: xiāngcǎo 香草
- Hazelnut: zhēnzi 榛子
- Chocolate: qiǎokèlì 巧克力
- Mango: mángguǒ 芒果
- Cherry: yīngtáo 樱桃
- Peppermint: bòhé 薄荷
- Cinnamon: ròuguì 肉桂
These are some of the possible customizations you can have with your coffee. Of course, there are many crazy coffee customizations that aren’t included.
- Whipped Cream: xiān nǎiyóu 鲜奶油
- Milk: niúnǎi 牛奶
- Skinny: dī zhī niúnǎi 低脂牛奶
- Dry: duō nǎi pào, shào nǎi 多奶泡，少奶
- Wet: shào nǎi pào, duō nǎi 少奶泡，多奶
- Decaf: dī kāfēi yīn 低咖啡因
Coffee to go?
Finally, you can end up with “To go”(dǎbāo 打包) or “Here” (zài zhèlǐ yòng 在这里用)
Example of a full Chinese sentence
I would like a medium skinny latte with a double shot.
Nǐ hǎo, wǒ yào yībēi zhōng bēi ná tiě, yào shuāng fèn nóngsuō, dī zhī niúnǎi.
Hope that helps you ordering a coffee using Mandarin Chinese language!