How to Order Coffee in Chinese

Using yàobēifēi (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”. We don’t want you to go unprepared to answer the follow up questions you will certainly be hit with after this phrase. This post covers all the main things you need to know to properly order a cup of coffee in Chinese. 

Core 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 favorite order that you can simply memorize for convenience. We just want to make sure that you have all the pieces that you may want to use. In the subsequent sections we’ll break down each part of this order for you. 



First, start with a simple hǎo (hello). Do not greet a barista with ” hǎoma “. If you say ” hǎoma” with a big smile, it might appear that you’re flirting…poorly! 

Drink Size

Coffee size might sound like one of the simplest aspects of ordering a coffee but thanks to Starbucks, it isn’t.

Normal sizing
Small: 小杯 (xiǎo bēi)
Medium: 中杯 (zhōng bēi)
Large: 大杯 (dà bēi)
Starbucks sizing
Short: 小杯 (xiǎo bēi)
Tall: 中杯 (zhōng bēi)
Grande: 大杯 (dà bēi)/ 标准杯 (biāozhǔn bēi) 
Venti: 超大杯 (chāodà bēi)

In order to increase revenue, the short size xiǎobēi 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 yàobēixiǎobēifēi (I want a small cup of coffee) , the nice barista will answer duìzhèshìzhōngbēi (Sorry, this is a tall.) 

Describe Your Coffee

Instead of “fēi” (Coffee), use one of the more descriptive words below. If you would like your drink iced or flavored you simply add “bīng” (iced) and your flavor before your coffee type. For example Iced mocha is “bīng“).

Coffee types
Espresso: 意式浓缩 (yì shì nóngsuō)
Double Espresso: 双份意式浓缩 (shuāng fèn yì shì nóngsuō)
Americano: 美式咖啡 (měishì kāfēi)
Black Coffee: 黑咖啡 (hēi kāfēi)
Cappuccino: 卡布奇诺 (kǎ bù qí nuò)
Latté: 拿铁 (ná tiě)
Mocha 摩卡 (mókǎ)
Macchiato: 玛奇朵 (mǎ qí duǒ)
Caramel: 焦糖 (jiāo táng)
Vanilla: 香草 (xiāngcǎo)
Hazelnut: 榛子 (zhēnzi)
Chocolate: 巧克力 (qiǎokèlì)
Mango: 芒果 (mángguǒ)
Cherry: 樱桃 (yīngtáo)
Peppermint: 薄荷 (bòhé)
Cinnamon: 肉桂 (ròuguì)

That’s a lot of types and flavors! Try ordering a different type each day to practice your Chinese and explore the flavors, or just memorize your favorite to make your life easier. Eventually it would be cool to memorize all of them, that way you can impress your friends by helping them place an order. 


These are some of the possible customizations you can have with your coffee. If your customization of choice isn’t listed feel free to comment or tweet at us and we’ll reply and update our list.

Whipped Cream: 鲜奶油 (xiān nǎiyóu)
Milk 牛奶: (niúnǎi)
Skinny: 低脂牛奶 (dī zhī niúnǎi)
Dry: 多奶泡,少奶 (duō nǎi pào, shào nǎi)
Wet: 少奶泡,多奶 (shào nǎi pào, duō nǎi)
Decaf: 低咖啡因 (dī kāfēi yīn)

To Go?

Finally you can end up with “To go”(bāo) or “Here” (zàizhèyòng)


Good luck ordering your coffee!

Author pictureThis blog is provided by GoEast, Professional Chinese Language Training with a few updates in 2020 by Du Chinese. Wang Rong (Emily) is a cofounder of GoEast and writes columns for the GoEast Blog on Chinese language learning, Chinese culture, and life in China as a language specialist. She holds a BA degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language and a MA in Comparative Literature. She has been teaching Chinese to foreigners since 2007 as a tutor and a professor in Universities.

This is the accompanying blog post for our elementary lesson “Ordering Coffee“.

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