It’s a reoccurring nightmare for nomadic coffee drinkers - being in a foreign country and not being able to order coffee. The quality of the coffee will always be a game of chance (especially when you can't get your hands on República coffee...) but even a bad cup of coffee is better than no coffee. And without the correct tools how will you even be able to order the thing that closely resembles a flat white when you’re outside of Australia?
Have no fear - we’ve popped together a little guide for ordering coffee in 5 different countries.
If you want an espresso with a dash of milk you want ‘une noisette’ which is basically a macchiato.
‘Cafe creme’ will get you a milky coffee but a French cappuccino might not be what you were after. They’re waterier than their Italian counter parts and might not be the creamy coffee hit you were expecting.
Depending on which part of France you’re in, a waiter might scoff at you for ordering coffee with a meal. Coffee is drunk separately from meals in France but the good news is they drink wine with meals instead.
In Japan, coffee is called ‘kōhii’ and if you simply want a coffee with milk you can say ‘kōhii gyūnyū’ and you’ll get a pretty normal cup of coffee.
Having said that though, if you’re in Japan, make the most of it and order all their weird and wonderful coffee based beverages. You can actually buy hot cans of coffee from vending machines in Japan. How cool is that? Be careful with any pre-mixed coffee in Japan though - they’re often full of sugar so just beware if you’re trying to avoid that.
Coffee with milk in China is ‘kāfēi niúnǎi’ and you can even order a cappuccino by saying ‘kǎbùqínuò’. If you’re travelling through China it shouldn’t be too difficult to get the usual coffee suspects with most cafes making Americanos, mochas, cappuccinos, espressos and machiatios.
Thailand is very tourist friendly so getting coffee there isn’t too difficult. For hot coffee you say ‘ga-fae ron’ for cold coffee you say ‘ga-fae yen’.
You should also try a traditional Thai iced coffee while you’re there. They’re spectacular. Again if you’re trying to be heath conscious, maybe avoid them. They generally come with a very heavy serving of whipped cream and sugar but they truly are an amazing treat.
Don’t try to order a cappuccino after lunch - they only do milky coffees in the morning in Italy. Coffee in Italy is very simple - a cappuccino is cappuccino and if you want an espresso you just say ‘un caffe’. Coffee is also quite medicinal in Italy - you don’t tend to sit around for hours like we do in Australia. It’s a quick a sip standing at a counter and you’re off!
As far language is concerned, American English will do quite nicely in the US but they have a whole different language of coffee. Most places won’t know what a flat white is but they are getting better at it. At most diners, having cream in your coffee in the done thing and they mostly drink filter coffee but many cafes are getting on board with espresso and artisan coffee. Don’t be too hard on our American buddies either - full cream milk in Australia confuses them immensely, which is fair enough. It sounds like it’s a bottle of full cream which is weird because we generally don’t have cream in our coffee.