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How-to Order Coffee Like a New Yorker


A Deli in  Woodhaven, Queens

A deli in Woodhaven under the tracks.

Photo (c) John Roleke

Learning how to order coffee like a New Yorker will not improve your life. It will not make your morning coffee taste better. You will still be stuck in an endless line at the deli. It won't help you join the hip crowd, pay your bills, or watch your kids. Your Facebook friends won't like you more or even be aware of ignoring your self-congratulatory post. No one outside the tri-state area will even know what you are talking about. Your mother, your girlfriend, your husband, your Twitter twits, your hockey team, your doctor, your boss, your tween daughter ...they all couldn't care less. There is really no point in ordering coffee like a New Yorker unless you're a New Yorker.

On second thought, knowing what a "regular" coffee means would be useful to a diabetic.

Hint - This works in Dunkin Donuts in New York and Long Island, too, but not Starbucks. Don't even try it at Starbucks. That would be stupid. The opprosite is even stupider. My favorite sign in a New York deli reads:

"If you insist on ordering a tall coffee, we insist on charging you like you're at Starbucks."

When a New Yorker Orders Coffee in a Deli: The Meanings

  • Regular Coffee or just "Coffee" - That's coffee plus plenty of milk and sugar. Got it? You don't have to say milk and sugar. You'll get that thrown in like a bonus. It's your lucky day, champ.
  • Milk and sugar - Why would you order coffee like that? Why do you have so much time? You can't just say "regular?" Isn't that wasting less of everyone else's time? Yes, sometimes the idiot behind the counter doesn't know. Stop going to that deli unless the next one is more than one block away.
  • Dark - A little milk.
  • Lite or "light" - A lot of milk. More than a regular.
  • Extra-lite or "extra-light" - More milk than a lite. You got to be lactose tolerant to order this way.
  • Sweet and lite - Lots of sugar, lots of milk.
  • No sugar - Say it twice. Say it loud. Say it clear. The default is "with sugar." You got this, diabetics? Consider this a public service announcement.
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