Let's say that there is a coffee vending machine in my office, and I ask my friend to get some for me. However, the standard amount of coffee the machine serves is half of, say, a Starbucks mug. Thus, every time I go to the coffee machine, I press the button twice.

How would I express this to my friend? Should I say

I want two coffees.

Which is unfortunately ambiguous. Or maybe

Pour the coffee twice.

Or suppose he brings me a new, different cup, one that's shaped differently. How would I ask him about the amount it contains?

How many coffees is this?

  • 3
    I want a double coffee?
    – skymningen
    Sep 16 '13 at 14:12
  • 1
    How would I ask for the cup to be filled? I'd say, "This mug holds two servings. Fill it up, please." As for asking about the new cup, I'd say, "How many servings do you suppose this will hold?" The words servings is context-dependent, and in this case refers to the amount of coffee that is dispensed from the machine.
    – J.R.
    Sep 16 '13 at 14:34
  • I'll take two coffees- and put 'em in this.
    – Jim
    Sep 16 '13 at 15:02

Since you state specifically that the machine dispenses a standard amount of coffee, an appropriate word would be serving. Portion would also be correct, but isn't as common in everyday use.

Can you please get me two servings of coffee?

Can you please get me two portions of coffee?

This assumes that your friend is familiar with the machine, and knows or can figure out that it dispenses a particular amount. If you don't trust him that much, the best way to ensure you get a full cup of coffee would be something like what you said originally:

Go to the machine and push the button twice so that the cup gets filled completely.

  • I think with both of these wordings you'd want to clarify that you mean two servings or portions in one cup.
    – Biglig
    Sep 17 '13 at 9:46

I'd just go with the simplest phrasing, which is to ask for exactly what you want:

Can you please fill this all the way to the top?

No other information is really necessary; they'll push the button once, see it isn't full, and figure it out themselves. But if you want to give them the extra information the first time, you can say:

Can you please fill this all the way to the top? You'll have to press the button twice.

As for finding out how many times you'll have to push the button to fill a different container, I'm in agreement with everyone else:

How many servings do you think will fit in this?

Or if you're referring specifically to your office coffee machine:

How many times do you think I'll have to push the button to fill this up?


I can't think of an idiomatic way to express this exact request. If my friend is new to the office, I would probably need to explain that it takes two doses to fill the mug. Then on later occasions I could simply ask him to fill the mug or fill the mug up, or if he needs more explicit direction, to push the button twice or to put in two servings.

Since the coffee is being dispensed from a machine, you could ask for two shots (or a double shot) of coffee. This is not the usual use of shot in reference to beverages:

10a. a small amount of a drink, especially a strong alcoholic one

Shots is also used to refer to servings of espresso and wheatgrass and other strong non-alcoholic drinks. But since the serving size of those drinks is small (a shotglass holds about 1 fl. oz./ 30cc), asking for a shot of anything is an informal way to ask for a small portion of it, especially when it is dispensed from a pump. Someone might informally ask for a shot of whipped cream or a shot of mustard in this way.

You could also ask for a double. A double beverage contains twice the normal portion of its strongest component of the drink; a double latte is a café latte with two shots of espresso, a double martini has twice as much gin.

But again, until your friend becomes familiar with the machine and your mug, asking for a double or two shots will require some additional explanation, just the same as if you ask for two servings, or two measures, or two portions, or even two doses.


Firstly, all your examples are very imperative, they sound like you are giving an order, not asking a friend for a favour. So you should soften them.

You might use "double", to indicate that you want one coffee that is twice the size of a standard one.

So you would say:

"I would like a double coffee, please."
"Thank you. Is this a double or a single?"

In the second example, because it is clear to your friend that you are talking about coffee, you can just use "double" and single. This would also apply in a coffee shop, for example. "Gimme a venti soy latte - wait, make it a double. Thanks."

Notice that you can be more imperative in the coffee shop - you actually are giving an order - but that it is still good manners to soften it a little.

  • "A double coffee" is short and sweet, and to the point. But it would be more polite to ask a friend or colleague: "Could you make me a double coffee, please?"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 17 '13 at 6:30
  • 1
    Absolutely correct, I didn't want to muddy the waters, but yes, you should use much politer language. "Can I have a double, please?" and "Thank you. Is this a double or a single?"
    – Biglig
    Sep 17 '13 at 9:44
  • You can edit your answer. It's not muddying the waters if you are being more precise :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 17 '13 at 9:46
  • Thanks Mari-Lou, your suggestions really improved the answer!
    – Biglig
    Sep 17 '13 at 10:16

I honestly think this is the sort of thing you should explain, just as you did in your question. I don't think it's common enough for us to have a shared way of expressing it.

Do you think you could get me some coffee, too? Oh, and by the way, I like to drink twice the normal amount of coffee. Do you think you could press the button on the machine twice so that the cup fills up twice as much?

Although I think you'll have to explain it the first time, on subsequent trips to the coffeehouse your friend will probably remember that you like to have twice as much coffee, so you'll be able to express it again with something shorter:

Oh, and can you press the button twice again?

At this point, they'll probably connect the dots no matter what you say, as long as it's vaguely related to having twice as much coffee:

Do you think you could get me another double coffee?


Yeah, I'll have a two-button coffee.

These would, of course, be confusing if you hadn't already explained. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it doesn't always make for very good communication!

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