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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Cuppa Joe

A Coffee-House in Palestine, 1900


Do you drink coffee? Or tea? If so, how do you drink it: with or without cream and/or sugar?


Three friends, Larry, Curly, and Mo (short for Maureen, a woman’s name) are in a coffee shop.

Waitress: What can I get you folks today?
Larry: I’ll have a cuppa Joe.
Mo: Me too!
Curly: Me three!
Waitress: Super! And how do you take it?
Larry: Do you have any non-dairy creamer? I’m lactose intolerant.
Waitress: No problem, sir.
Mo: And do you have Sweet n Lo or Equal? I’m on a diet.
Waitress: Of course. How about you, sir? Anything special?
Curly: Nope! I like my coffee black.
Waitress: OK, that’s three coffees, one with creamer, one with artificial sweetener, and one black. How about some pie today?
(All three): No thanks!


These days, most people think of Starbucks and other specialty coffee places as "coffee shops." But before the lattes and the frappes, a coffee shop was a type of restaurant for informal dining.
By the way, although "coffee," as a liquid, is an uncountable noun, we often refer to such drinks without units: "two waters" (two glasses or bottles of water,) "five beers" (five bottles of beer,) etc. Properly, the waitress should say "three cups of coffee."


Match the terms to their meaning.

1. Joe
2. black
3. folks
4. Me three!
5. No thanks
6. non-dairy creamer
7. Nope
8. Sweet n Lo, Equal
9. Super

a. I don't want any
b. no
c. people, friends
d. without cream or sugar
e. like sugar, but not "real"
f. I want that, too (funny)
g. coffee
h. wonderful, great
i. like milk, but not "real"


1. Is coffee a popular drink in your country? If not, what is?
2. What are the different ways people can drink coffee or other drinks in your country? For example, with or without cream, etc.
3. Are there coffee shops in your country? If so, what are they like? What can people buy there? If there are no coffee shops, where else can people gather with their friends?


1 g (a cuppa) Joe: Americans have a lot of slang terms for coffee, including "Joe" and "Java." So "a cuppa Joe" or "a cuppa Java" is simply "a cup of coffee."
2 d black: Straight, without cream or sugar.
3 c folks: Waitresses in America are often very friendly and talk familiarly with the customers. "Folks" is a friendly term for "people."
4 f Me three!: Curly is making a little joke. "Me too!" sounds like "Me two!" So Curly adds "three" to Mo’s "two/too."
5 a No thanks!: "No thanks" means "I don’t want any." It does NOT mean "You’re welcome!"
6 i non-dairy creamer: Some people drink coffee with cream, others with milk (it’s cheaper). But Larry is "lactose intolerant." That means he can’t drink milk, cream, or any dairy product (products made from milk). So he wants a substitute, a powder that tastes like milk, but has no milk in it.
7 b Nope!: A slangy way to say "no."
8 e Sweet n Lo, Equal: These are brand names of popular low-calorie sweeteners.
9 h Super: wonderful, a way to say that you like what a person has said

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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