Ordering Coffee

The elixir of life: coffee! Well, for some, kind of… If you’re a coffee lover, you probably want your fix the way you like it. So here goes: how to order it in Amsterdam!

Black coffee, nothing else
If you like your coffee black, you can order either a ‘gewone koffie‘ (regular coffee), or ‘een koffie, zwart‘ (a coffee, black).

If you end up saying ‘coffee’, or the Dutch ‘koffie‘, the waiter will give you some options. Simply answer: ‘zwart‘ (or, combining the two: ‘gewoon zwart‘).

Black coffee, really strong
The Italian way: ‘een espresso’, or, going hardcore, ‘een dubbele espresso (double espresso). As you probably know; you’ll get very little coffee, yet with the same amount of caffeine as a normal or a double coffee.

Black coffee, adding milk yourself
If you prefer to pour cream in your coffee, have a look around before ordering. Do you see milk on a tray? Or milk capsules, like the ones you see in the picture above? If not, you might want to add it to your order (they don’t charge you for it): ‘met een kuipje melk’. Unlike some other Dutch places, in Amsterdam they don’t put one on your saucer by default — which never stops to amaze my Mum.

In a complete sentence: “Mag ik een zwarte (or: gewone) koffie met een kuipje melk?” If you give a friendly smile, you don’t have to try and say: ‘alsjeblieft’ (please).

Coffee with warm milk added already
To order a coffee with a lot of milk already added, you can either ask for a ‘latte’ (a shortened version of the Italian caffè latte), or a ‘koffie verkeerd‘ (‘wrong coffee’). Quite often, this coffee is served in a glass.

Coffee with warm milk added AND some foam
That would be a cappuccino.


Another fairly common option
That fairly common option would be a latte macchiato, the composition of which I never quite can remember. I do know it’s mostly served in a glass, just like the ‘latte’, yet somehow it pretty much always looks better than that very latte. Disclaimer: after trying a Latte Macchiato, I always go back to ordering a latte for my second round. Mysteries!

If all this makes your coffee muscles twitch with nerves, just click on the image above, point out the coffee of your liking (interestingly enough, a latte macchiato is not on ‘the menu’)  and say: ‘Mag ik deze koffie?‘ (May I have this coffee?). I’d say that should work at every cafe on the globe where they speak (some) English!

The bill
Tips are not included in the Netherlands. Quite common is to give 5 to 10%, depending on how happy you are with your waiter.

Depending on how ‘touristy’ the area is, you don’t have to pay until after finishing your food/drinks. You can pretty much always pay with a debit card, a credit card is less common! Especially in cafes.

Wait! How do I pronounce all this?
Ah! Good point. I will post an update to this blog including audio. How about that? Coming up faster than you can brew your coffee! Ok, not quite, but coming up for sure! For now, I can recommend Pronuncation Guide Dutch, and Hear Dutch Here.

Next week I’ll post about Dutch as a language.

Stop! What about sugar in my coffee?
Good point again: I’d say you’ll find sugar on your saucer 99% of the time. Either sugar cubes, or — mostly — sugar sachets.

Enjoy your coffee :-)


CC Photo Sheila Schenkel; (c) Types of coffee: Lokesh Dhakar Text © Amsterdam Culture/Sheila Schenkel




admin says:

Something else: if you like some flat water next to your coffee, you can order “en een glas water, alstublieft” (=and a glass of water, please). To be sure, they might check: ‘Flat or bubbly?’ You can say: ‘Kraanwater is goed.’ (Tap water is fine.)

I wouldn’t go to the cafe next to track 2B of Central Station called Grand Cafe-Restaurant 1e klas (’1st class’). They bluntly refuse complimentary water — so far the only place that I know of. They must be the obligatory exception to a nice rule :)


Brian says:

Thank you for this post! I have lived in Haarlem for over 6 months now and always wondered if “koffie,zwart” was the same as “gewone koffie”! I didn’t look it up until just now… finding your page! Thanks :)

Sheila says:

Thank you for your nice comment, Brian! Happy to have been of help :-) Enjoy Haarlem! Such a nice place to live!

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