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Ordering at a Café in Swedish Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in Living in Sweden, Swedish Language, Vocabulary

Anyone who has ever worked to learn another language knows the situation. You’re in a new country, let’s say, hypothetically, Sweden. You’re ready to partake in the Swedish fika tradition. You’re excited to test out your Swedish. But before heading in to the café, you want to make sure you’ve got it all right. So you stand outside for a couple of minutes. You decide what you want. One coffee. Maybe a cinnamon bun. You go over in your head how to say those words in Swedish. Coffee=kaffe. Cinnamon bun=kanelbulle. Check. You’re ready. Ish. You head inside. Talk to the barista. Ask for your coffee. Ask for your cinnamon bun. You nail it. Then they ask you something else. A follow-up question. A question you weren’t prepared for. The gig is up and you switch from Swedish to English. Foiled again.

But don’t worry! We’re going to go through some of the ways you can interact at a café. Of course, this post won’t be able to predict how each interaction goes, but hopefully it will give you a good start. So let’s begin.

There are several ways to ask for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun. For example:
Kan jag få en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle?
Jag tar en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle.
Jag skulle vilja ha en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle.
Jag skulle vilja beställa en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle.
Jag vill beställa en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle.
Jag vill ha en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle.

I think you get the idea. Keep in mind that often times you don’t need to include the word kopp. People will simply say: jag tar en kaffe. Kaffe is an ett word, so just imagine the kopp being silent. Jag vill ha en [kopp] kaffe.

If you’re like me and don’t drink coffee, you might ask for te or varm choklad.

But you’re going to get follow-up questions at some of these places when you order coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

They may ask you: vill du ha socker? Mjölk? Sojamjölk? Vispgrädde?

So you’ll have to decide on the fly. Do you want sugar? Milk? Soymilk? Whipped cream? Here’s where your politeness comes in. In English, we would use the word please. In Swedish, you’ll want to use the word thank you.

Let’s take a look at how the ordering process is going then.

You: Kan jag få en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle?
Barista: Absolut. Vill du ha socker i kaffet?
You: Ja tack.
Barista: Mjölk?
You: Gärna lite sojamjölk.

Nailed it. Well done. Two questions down. And you even managed to ask for a little soymilk instead of cow’s milk with the phrase gärna lite sojamjölk. That means something like, gladly some soymilk or I’d prefer some soymilk.

Ok, now you have a coffee with some sugar and a little bit of soymilk. Your cinnamon bun is on the way. You need to pay now. You’ll probably be faced with a few questions here. One: var det bra så? Two: ska du äta här eller ta med? Three: ska du betala med kort eller kontant? Four: vill du ha kvittot?

The first question—var det bra så—is the normal attempt at an upsell. Can I get you anything else? This is your chance to maybe ask for a glass of water or whatever else has caught your fancy.

The second question—ska du äta här eller ta med—is the question about your take-away preferences. Do you want to eat here or will you be taking the food with you?

The third question—ska du betala med kort eller kontant—is asking about how you plan to pay for your order. Are you going to pay with a card or with cash?

And the fourth question—vill du ha kvittot—wants you to decide about the receipt. Do you want the receipt?

Let’s get back to our conversation:

You: Kan jag få en kopp kaffe och en kanelbulle?
Barista: Absolut. Vill du ha socker i kaffet?
You: Ja tack.
Barista: Mjölk?
You: Gärna lite sojamjölk.
Barista: Var det bra så?
You: Nja… kan jag få ett glas vatten?
Barista: Vattnet står där borta.
You: Tack.
Barista: Vill du äta här eller ta med?
You: Jag äter här.
Barista: Betalar du med kort eller kontant?
You: Kort.
Barista: Slå in koden.
[Type in your PIN]
Barista: Tack. Vill du ha kvittot?
You: Nej tack. 

Woooo! You did it! You just made it through the entire coffee ordering process! When you asked for water, the barista told you that the water was somewhere else. Hopefully they pointed to where it was. Often there will be some glasses standing out so you can serve yourself.

Keep in mind that a lot of times these questions will be shortened. For example:
Vill du äta här eller ta med? = Äta här eller ta med? OR Äter du här eller tar du med?
Betalar du med kort eller kontant? = Kort eller kontant?
Vill du ha kvittot? = Kvittot? 

But now you’re ready for whatever they might throw at you. Good luck!

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


Comments:

  1. zsolt varsányi:

    Thanks! It was the most informativ topic about ordering at a café (or anything else) in Swedish.

  2. Marcus Cederström:

    Oh good, glad it was helpful.

  3. Carlos:

    Hej!
    Tack så mycket för ditt inlägg!

    Det här inlägget har hjälpt mig så mycket!

  4. Zuzanna:

    What shoud I respond to the question “var det bra så?” if I don’t need anything else?
    Ja, det var bra så?
    Please, let me know 🙂

  5. Omar:

    Tack så mycket

  6. Nicola Arnold:

    How would I say, to begin with, that I’d like a coffee to go?