How to order a coffee in Japan (5 drinks you can order in Japan, mistakes to avoid when ordering coffee in Japan)

If you are in Japan and need that first sip of coffee, you may find yourself visiting a coffee shop. However, the experience may be strainge if you cannot read the menu, and the barista has a hard time understanding you. This article will give easy phrases on how to order a coffee in Japan.

How to order a coffee in Japan 

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To order a coffee in Japan, you need to know the common phrases used in a coffee shop like コーヒー (ko-hi-ro) – Coffee and コーヒー を 一つ ください (Kōhī wo hitotsu kudasai)-Coffee, please. You also need to be aware of some of the coffee drinks served in Japan, like カフェモカ (Kafe moka) and カフェラテ (Kafe rate). During my visit to Japan, I enjoyed touring Japanese coffee shops to see what they offer. The Japanese language, I admit, was difficult even to read. I mean, who can read this カフェオレ ? There is no single English letter. However, learning some common phrases used in Japanese coffee shops made it easy to navigate, especially after a few painful tries . So, in this article, I will show you simple ways to order coffee in Japan, the drinks to order and mistakes to avoid so you do not bite your tongue.

How to order coffee in Japan like a local- Ordering coffee in Japanese

How to order a coffee in Japan 
How to order coffee in Japan like a local. Image source: Pixabay

Ordering coffee in Japan can be difficult if it is a foreign language to you; however, learning the simple phrases they use to order coffee, like コーヒー (ko-hi-ro) – Coffee or アイスコーヒー (aisu ko-hi-ro) – Iced coffee and the type of coffee drinks to order like:  will help you navigate the challenge of ordering coffee in Japan.

  1. The good news is that most of the vocabulary used in ordering coffee in Japan is the same as in English; the only difference is the pronunciation. Most Japanese cafes use katakana pronunciation which are words that are similar to English; for instance; Espresso” is エスプレッソ (Esupuresso), and Cafe Latte” is カフェラテ (Kafe Rate). The katakana pronunciation is easier to understand because the words are similar to the English coffee menu you may be familiar with. 
  2. You can order coffee in various Japanese cafes. The coffee shops are written as コーヒーショップ (ko-hi-ro shop).
  3. It is also important to be civilized, especially when you are in a foreign country. To greet the barista, say こんにちは (Kon’nichiwa)- Hello.
  4. In Japan, you can tell them the type of roast that you want for your coffee;
  • ライト (Laito)-light 
  • ミディアム (Midiamu)-medium 
  • ダーク (Dhaaku)-dark 

These are some of the vocabulary to use when in a Japanese cafe

  • コーヒー (ko-hi-ro) – Coffee
  • コーヒー を 一つ ください (Kōhī wo hitotsu kudasai)-Coffee please
  • アイスコーヒー (aisu ko-hi-ro) – Iced coffee
  • ホットコーヒー (hotto ko-hi-ro) – Hot coffee
  • スモールサイズ (sumōru saizu) – Small size
  • ミディアムサイズ (midiamum saizu) – Medium size
  • マキシマムサイズ (makishimamu saizu) – Maximum size
  • 砂糖 を 下さい (Satou wo kudasai)- Sugar please
  • クリーム を 下さい (Kureemu wo kudasai)-Cream please.
  • クリームはいれないで下さい (Kureemu wa irenai de kudasa)-No cream please.
  • 砂糖はいれないで下さい (Satou wa irenai de kudasai)-No sugar please.

Mistakes to avoid when ordering coffee in Japanese?

5 drinks you can order in Japan
Ordering coffee in Japanese. Image source: Pixabay

Always remember to specify the kind of drinks you want in Japanese. Japanese coffee shops have similar orders to most coffee shops in America, so you will find that most drinks are either hot or cold. When making your coffee order, make sure to give specific instructions if you want it hot((hotto) or cold(aisu), the size and if it is a to-go coffee drink or not. Tell them if you want a small, medium, or maximum size. Suppose you want a to-go, say お持ち帰りで (omochi kaeri de). If you want to take it in the store, you can say 店内で (tennnai de).

Do not order a Starbucks-size cup in a Japanese coffee shop. Only Starbucks stores in Japan offer the exact sizes as a Starbucks store in America, so you will get a short, tall Grande and venti instead of Japanese coffee shops that only offer small, medium and large.

Do not rush baristas when you order in a Japanese cafe. Japanese believe in order and patience. If you want it brewed, be patient so you are served with an artistic and Instagram-worthy coffee that will know your taste buds off. I recommend coffee vending machines like 7-Eleven if you are in a rush. You can get your coffee in minutes; it is cheaper and less fresh .

5 Coffee drinks you can order in Japan

How to order a coffee in Japan 
Coffee drinks you can order in Japan. Image source: Pinterest

You can get hot or cold coffee drinks in Japan are classified as hot or cold drinks. The cold drinks usually have ice in them. You can get an iced americano, iced latte, iced mocha, or iced cappuccino for a cold drink. Some of the coffee drinks you can order in Japan are;

  • コーヒー (Koohii) – drip coffee. It is a coffee where hot water is slowly poured over it.
  • アメリカーノ (Amerikaano) – Americano is an espresso diluted with water. I’ll never understand why americano was invented .
  • カフェラテ (Kafe rate) – Cafe Latte has steamed milk, a light foam milk layer and a shot of espresso.
  • カプチーノ (Kapuchiino) – Cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed and foamed milk.
  • カフェモカ (Kafe moka) – Cafe mocha has espresso milk and chocolate syrup.


What is the most common coffee drink you can get in Japan?

The most coffee drink you can get in Japan is iced coffee which you can get in cafes or convenience stores. Other standard drinks are canned coffee drinks available at vending machines.

How much is coffee in Japan?

The price of coffee will range between $0.50- $ 4.30. The price depends on the type of coffee you want. Canned coffee in vending machines is cheaper than those brewed fresh in cafes. Moreover, if you order coffee in famous tourist places and cities, the price will be higher compared to small towns.

How to order black coffee in Japan

To order black coffee in Japan, say ブラックコーヒー (Burakku coohii).

How do you order coffee with milk in Japanese?

To order coffee with milk say ミルク入りのコーヒーをお願いします” (miruku iri no kōhī o onegaishimasu). You could also request a specific coffee drink that has milk in it, like カフェラテ -Kafe rate, a カフェモカ-Kafe moka or a カプチーノ- Kapuchiino.

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