German Language Blog

A Sample Of German: Das Kostehäppchen Posted by on Sep 1, 2021 in Language

Guten Tag! Today we’re going to look at a quirky German word, das Kostehäppchen. We will look at its meaning, how to use it, the breakdown of the word itself, and some alternative/related words you may also find useful!

What is das Kostehäppchen?

Simply put, a Kostehäppchen is a small sample of food you get to try a product before you buy the whole thing. Due to Covid-19, this obviously hasn’t been happening lately! I’m unsure if it’s been reintroduced anywhere yet – personally, I haven’t seen any Kostehäppchen being given out in my local supermarkets, or on any food stalls in the market -, but we’ll learn the word anyway, because it’s an interesting one.


Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

How does the word look in a sentence?

Someone offering you a sample might say,

“Möchten Sie ein Kostehäppchen?”
“Would you like a sample/would you like to try a piece?”

However, they may just use the verb kosten, instead:

“Möchten Sie etwas kosten?”
“Would you like to try something?”

This is where the word starts to become interesting; in the above example, it would be very understandable to think you were being asked to pay for something, or being asked its cost, when you’re actually being asked to taste something. So let’s explore the breakdown of the word now, and I’ll try to clear up any confusion!


Photo by Jem Sahagun on Unsplash

The breakdown of Kostehäppchen

Let’s take the first part of the word: Kost(e). Die Kost is a German noun meaning ‘food’, usually indicating a type of food/diet eg. die Rohkost – raw food; die Krankenkost – a specific diet for an ill person.

Die Kosten is a different German noun. This one means ‘costs’ or ‘expenses’, and is unrelated to the meaning of Kostehäppchen.

The verb kosten reflects these two meanings above:

kosten: to try (food)
kosten: to cost (money)

“Möchten Sie etwas kosten?” – Would you like to try something?
“Wieviel kostet das?” – How much does that cost?

So, in the case of a Kostehäppchen, we are talking about the first meaning: to taste. This is something worth bearing in mind, as so often we only hear kosten used when talking about price. Now you know its second meaning!

Now let’s move onto the second part of the word: häppchen. This stems from the noun der Happen, which means ‘small bite’ or ‘appetiser’ in German. The word Häppchen is simply a diminutive of der Happen, used because it’s talking about something smaller than the original (which was already small, because der Happen means ‘small bite’… Anyway, you can read all about how diminutives work in German, by clicking here!).


Woman giving out Kostehäppchen in the street (2017). Photo by Ryan Plomp on Unsplash

Alternative words

Here are a few words related to Kostehäppchen, which you may also find useful!

probieren – to try

essen – to eat

ein kleines Stück – a little piece

ein Bissen – a piece

eine Kleinigkeit – a little something

die Kostprobe – sample (alternative word for Kostehäppchen)


I hope you found this post helpful!

If you did,  you might also like this one: 11 foodstuffs of the GDR you can still find in German supermarkets

Bis bald (see you soon)

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Thorsten:

    Never heard this word. Where in Germany is it used?
    I know it as “Probierhäppchen”

    • Constanze:

      @Thorsten Yeah there are a few different terms, I believe! Another is die Kostprobe.