The secret to exceptional service from a barista is to speak his or her language. Imagine going to coffee shop in Shanghai. China and asking for “咖啡” (kafei) or saying “我想要一杯咖啡” (translation: I would like a cup of coffee) instead of “one coffee, please!”
No matter which country you visit, the truth is, when you say “coffee” in the barista’s or server’s native language, they’re going to love you. Here’s how to say coffee in 15 languages:
1. Chinese: 咖啡 (kafei)
This can be used in China, Taiwan, Chinatowns throughout the world, Singapore and Malaysia.
2. India, Hindi: कॉफ़ी (kofee)
Hindi is spoken in the northern part of India, namely around Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
3. India, Tamil: காபி (kafi)
Tamil is spoken in the southern region of India in the Tamil Nadu region. It is also widely spoken in Northeastern Sri Lanka and Indian communities throughout Singapore and Malaysia.
4. Japanese: コー ヒー (kohi)
The Japanese are the inventors of ceramic coffee drippers and the pour-over coffee equipment for hot and cold coffee. When in Japan simply say コーヒーしてください (coffee please).
5. Indonesian: Kopi
“Kopi” is used in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) is very similar to Bahasa Malaysia. If you’d like, try saying “kopi-o” for local black coffee.
Read more: Coffee Culture In Indonesia
6. Korean : 커피 (kapi)
Koreans drink a lot of coffee. In Seoul, there are 284 Starbucks. There are hundreds of Pascucci, an Italian coffee chain and Korean chains like Hollys, Cafe Bene, Tous le Jours and Drop Top.
7. Vietnamese: cà phê
The Vietnamese make the best iced coffee in the world. They are also known to have strong and sweet coffee. You can find variations of coffee including egg coffee in Vietnam. For a great iced coffee recipe, go to Bon Appetit.
8. Arabic: قهوة (qahwah)
The word coffee originates from the Arabic word qahwah. The origin of coffee can be traced back to Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula. Even the best coffee bean in the world, Arabica, is named after the Arabs. According to the BBC, the word qahwah, or qahwa, originally meant wine, and in Yemen coffee was used as an aid to concentration and spiritual intoxication when they chanted the name of God. To read more go to BBC’s coffee and qahwa.
9. German: Kaffee
The Germans have a Kaffee and Kuchen tradition usually on Sundays between 3 to 5 pm. That’s when friends and family gather together for coffee and homemade cakes and cookies.
10. Danish: Kaffe (pronounced without the e sound)
Just like everyone else, the Danes love gathering together with friends and family for a good cup of coffee and dessert. We like the elaborate coffee culture in South Jutland. To read more about it go to ScandiKitchen’s A very Danish coffee time in South Jutland.
11. Icelandic: Kaffi
The Icelandics have a few coffee drinking habits and superstitions according to Nordic Culture Coffee Blog. Here was our coffee served in a mismatched cup and saucer in Reykjavik. Mismatched cups and saucers according to the Icelandic superstitions can mean the guest will have an affair. Read about this superstitions and more.
12. Russian: кофе (Kofe)
These days around St. Petersburg and Moscow you’ll find coffee trucks selling coffee and pastries. They are inexpensive and are some of the best place to practise your Russian.
13. Spanish: café
In South America, it is easy to get a cup of coffee. Whether you are in Peru, Argentina, Colombia or Bolivia, a simple cup of coffee is called el café.
14. Portuguese: café
In Brazil, the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese, café is the same as in Spanish.
15. Swahili: kahawa
Swahili is spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda and many other countries in Africa. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia in the continent of Africa.
In Ethiopia, where coffee originates, the coffee berries are known as bun. Somehow it took on the word the Arabic word mix when it was made into a drink in Yemen in the 15th century.
Truthfully, there’s not much difference in the word coffee no matter what language you speak – the word ‘coffee’ sounds almost the same in every language. Coffee is a universal drink, a drink to savor with friends and family.