Does it sound natural to say

I'd like to have a cup of coffee

at a café or is it too wordy?

It sounds like the more wordy the more polite.

  • 3
    It isn't too wordy. That's how I would say it ... except that I don't drink coffee. Just saying "cup of coffee" is a little terse. – zondo Apr 1 '16 at 18:52
  • @zondo Thanks , Would you use the word order like " I'd like to order a cup of coffee" Does it sound casual/idiomatic or old or more like you are from a royal family? – Mrt Apr 1 '16 at 19:06
  • 6
    "I'd like to have a cup of coffee" is perfectly fine. "I'd like a cup of coffee" is probably more common. – Tofystedeth Apr 1 '16 at 19:42
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    Whether it's too wordy or not is going to come down to opinion and the local culture and situation. If ordering at a counter in Manhattan during the Monday morning rush, it's wordy. Coffee, please would be fine. If ordering from a waitress on Sunday afternoon in a small town, I'd say it is insufficiently polite— Good afternoon. I'd just like a cup of coffee, please, or some such, would be more pleasant. – choster Apr 1 '16 at 20:11
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    A cup of coffee, please. is fine for most situations, unless you want to strike up a conversation with your server. – Alan Carmack Apr 1 '16 at 22:08

In the UK, normally I hear people just say

  • Can I have...
  • Could I have...
  • Can I get...

The last one has a slightly American feel to me, but is still used a lot here.

If you want to be more polite, you just could add 'please'.


If you want to be polite and concise, a common phrase is "May I have...?":

May I have a cup of coffee?

If you want to be particularly polite, then you can add "please" somewhere in there:

May I please have a cup of coffee?


May I have a cup of coffee, please?

Of course, if we're talking about word count here, then adding "please" will make it just as wordy as what you suggested. You observed that more polite tends to imply more wordy, which is generally the case. Placing more emphasis on formality tends to require more words, in general.

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