A Beginner's Guide to Coffee Ordering Terms

Learn the Right Lingo

variety of coffee drinks

Stocksy / Clique Images

Coffee ordering terms like "solo" and "skinny" are useful for placing espresso and coffee orders, but they can also be confusing if you're relatively new to coffee drinks and espresso drinks. This guide includes all the top coffee menu and coffee order terms you'll need to get exactly the drinks you want.

illustration of popular coffee orders
Illustration: Alex Dos Diaz. © The Spruce, 2019

Coffee Ordering Terms

  • Cap: Short for cappuccino.
  • Decaf: Coffee with most (not all) of its caffeine removed. Standards require that 97% of the original caffeine be removed, but the actual caffeine content in decaffeinated drinks is a controversial topic. Caffeine may be removed with water processing (called the "Swiss water process") or with chemical applications.
  • Double: Twice as much. This can be a double shot, a double amount of flavor syrup, two packs of sugar, twice the usual amount of milk or anything else. Just say "double" before the thing you want twice as much as when ordering coffee.
  • Double Double: This drink order is popular in Canada, especially at Tim Horton's. It refers to a large coffee with two creamer packets and two sugar packets mixed in.
  • Dry: A drink with frothed milk only (little or no creamy hot milk).
  • Extra: Similar to "double." This is usually used when you want more flavor, milk or sugar than usual.
  • Half-Caf: A 1:1 blend of decaf and "regular" coffee, a.k.a. a "split shot" or "half and half."
  • House: The house blend of coffee. It varies from shop to shop, so don't be afraid to ask what it's like!
  • Mocha: A drink made with chocolate syrup or powder.
  • Regular: Not decaf.
  • Rice: Rice milk. It's less common than soymilk, but if your local coffeehouse has it, you can order it in lieu of milk or in addition to a drink.
  • Quad: With four shots of espresso. Also known as a "double-double" in the U.S. (Warning - "Double-double" means "with two sugars and two creamers" in Canada.)
  • Skinny: A drink made with non-fat milk.
  • Shot: One serving size. It's usually applied to espresso and flavored syrups.
  • Single: Usually, one shot of espresso ordered straight, or as part of a more complex drink. It can also apply to other ingredients (such as a single sugar or single shot of flavor).
  • Solo: A drink made with only one shot of espresso, regardless of its size.
  • Soy: Soymilk. You can order it in lieu of milk or in addition to a drink.
  • Sugar-Free: Flavored syrup with a sugar substitute, or a sugarless version of a drink that usually has sugar.
  • Triple: Three shots of espresso served together, or a drink made with three shots of espresso.
  • Wet: The opposite of "dry," which means it has little to no foam and a larger quantity of milk. It's not necessary to order most drinks "wet" unless you want them extra wet.
  • Whip: Whipped cream. Order "whip" if you want it added or "no whip" if you don't want whipped cream on a drink that usually has it.
  • With Legs: In an insulated to-go cup, with a lid.